I greatly enjoy teaching and mentoring students, and strongly believe in active undergraduate education as a way for students to synthesize learned knowledge with practice. Throughout my career, I have been an active educator by organizing introductory undergraduate courses, immersive upper-division courses, and graduate seminars on specialized topics. I am currently employing the skills obtained and lessons learned from these experiences in a large undergraduate course exploring the history, evidence, and study of evolution at the Univ. of Colorado-Denver, and by mentoring undergraduates in research at the Univ. of Colorado-Boulder.

Biol 3445 Introduction to Evolution, 2015 - 2017. At the University of Colorado-Denver, I teach an introduction to the processes and patterns of evolution. Topics covered include: history of evolutionary thought, origin of life, evidence for evolution, phylogenetics, evolutionary genetics, natural selection and other evolutionary forces, speciation and biodiversity, evolution of sexual reproduction, and social organization. This is a large lecture course, typically exceeding 100 students. To keep students engaged, I incorporate active learning approaches including clickers and group activities.
Bios 998 Graduate Seminar in Species Concepts and Speciation, 2014. At the Univ. of Nebraska, I was an active participant in graduate student education by leading seminars on special topics relevant to the studies of the department. This includes exploring the complexities of studying biodiversity and speciation. The study of biodiversity is a central focus of many biologists, and a considerable body of theory and empirical work has shed light on the underlying processes of diversification and speciation. However, our efforts to understand the processes driving the diversification of life are complicated by the difficulty of delimiting species. In this seminar, we explore the history and theory relevant to species concepts (Biological, Ecological, Phylogenetic, Morphological, etc.) and their differential application across the kingdoms of life, as well as contemporary investigations into the causes and consequences of biological diversification (pre- and post-zygotic reproductive isolation, ecological differentiation, etc.). By parsing the diversity of thought on species as biological entities and the processes the underlie diversification, we will gain an appreciation for such concepts as "cryptic species," "speciation genes," or "species hybridization."
Bios 998 Graduate Seminar in Phylogeography and Species Distribution Modeling, 2013. At the Univ. of Nebraska, I also organized a course focused on phylogeographic analyses, which underpin our understanding of historical demography and biogeography, genealogical relationships among populations, and the effect of current landscape and past geological events on speciation and population dynamics. To explore the theory and application of phylogeographic methods in this seminar, we will read and discuss primary literature. Through a series of primary literature readings, we explored basic concepts and theory relevant to the application of phylogeographic methods, including rates of DNA evolution, gene trees vs. species trees, coalescent concepts and historical demography, molecular clock calibration, and the influence of life history and biogeography on patterns of relatedness. We also explored hypothesis testing with species distribution models and conservation, including cryptic phylogenetic structure and conservation priorities, identifying critical habitat for threatened/endangered species or areas of concern for invasive species, sister species interactions, and modeling past or future distributions.

Bio 341 General Ecology Lab, 2012. As an instructor at the Rochester Institute of Technology I developed a practical lab around my philosophy of inquiry-based education. I employed many of the same approaches utilized for a similar course at the Univ. of Rochester. This involved simultaneous instruction in field ecology techniques (making use of on-campus natural areas) and statistics, while students also proposed, tested, and interpreted their own hypotheses. Some student driven group projects extended lines of inquiry introduced within the context of the class, while others initiated projects wholly outside the topics introduced in class that still made use of learned techniques and principles. I also emphasized the development of communication skills by having students give oral presentations of results from class activities, and by writing short scientific paper-style reports.

Bio 225 Laboratory in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I was particularly involved in the development and implementation of this course from its initial offering in 2008 and continued as an instructor through 2012. This course was developed for Junior and Senior Biology majors at the Univ. of Rochester as a way to emphasize the formulation of testable scientific questions and the implementation of observations or experiments in natural settings. Students conducted projects involving local species and ecosystems to gain experience in field and lab methods critical to ecology and evolution studies. A large component of the course involved reading and critiquing published studies, writing scientific reports, oral presentations of findings, and culminated with the execution of an independent research project. These activities provided the opportunity for in-depth student interactions, and I mentored several students who went on to complete senior theses drawing upon their work in this course.

 *photos by R. Laport, J. Ng, J. Ramsey, T. Ramsey, A. Green, or R. Minckley