Field Course in Modern and Ancient Environments taught with Sue Kidwell and Michael LaBarbera


Effective teaching extends beyond the classroom and requires dedication and effort from both the instructor and the students. When teaching, I strive to develop a community that encourages curiosity and supports scholarship in students. Once a community is established within a classroom, students begin to trust and teach one another, ultimately achieving a deeper understanding of concepts.

Science is often presented as an exercise in rote memorization, but in practice it is a creative process that involves critical thinking. Although lesson plans often contain content goals, there are skills that students should learn that transcend any one classroom. I communicate short- and long-term learning goals to students and use a variety of interactive teaching techniques to promote reflection and self-assessment. I challenge students to succeed in the classroom, as well as to expand their knowledge beyond the classroom.

I am passionate about teaching and always on the lookout for new lessons, approaches, and perspectives. Please be in touch if you have something to share!

Classes taught at UC Merced

Stable Isotopes in the Environment (ESS 174, syllabus)

This undergraduate class covers basic principles of stable isotope analysis in ecological and environmental research. More importantly, student learn to interact and engage deeply with the scientific literature and data analysis, visualization, and interpretation. There is a heavy writing, reading, and oral presentation component to this course.


Data analysis and visualization (Informal workshop)

As a lab, we often focus on the generation of stable isotope data, but the current covid19 situation gives us an opportunity to focus on the steps afterwards. How can we manipulate data in R, both in terms of statistical analysis and visualization? These skills are often not explicitly taught and more expected to be absorbed through the course of graduate school or research involvement, but we are hoping to use this time of shelter in place to build community among the lab members as well as improve proficiency in R. We are using the DataCamp platform to facilitate the process (and were given free classroom access).


Introduction to Marine Science

Given the centrality of the ocean to my research, this topic is very near and dear to me. In designing this course, I reflected on what information was important to the students - a mix of social science, humanities, and STEM majors - to take with them beyond the semester. I realized that I wanted to spark joy and curiosity about the ocean. In addition, I felt the need to delve into the complications of colonialism, social justice, environmental issues, and climate change. I chose to have a simple textbook, but supplement with a "book club." This semester will be an adventure in flipped classroom, heavy group work, and student-led discussions but I'm excited to see how this experiment goes.


Teaching resources:

  • Institute for Science and Engineering Educators (ISEE)

  • American Society of Geoscience Educators (NAGT)

  • Student Education Initiative (SEI) at Univ. of Colorado Boulder

  • The Cutting Edge (SERC)