I teach because I enjoy sharing knowledge with others—and I find it deeply fulfilling to engage students in subjects that excite me. The most inspiring teachers during my education were those with a deep passion for their subject—their enthusiasm was contagious and transformed class from mundane to engaging. I believe that teaching is not just the transfer of facts. To me, the hallmark of a good teacher is that they leave a student with the tools to make connections on their own, the curiosity to ask new and interesting questions, and the enthusiasm to participate actively in the learning process. My goal as a teacher is to help students develop the ability to evaluate information critically, make connections, and generate new questions which will prepare them for the study of any subject and give the ability to adapt to new situations.
Particularly for instruction in ecology and environmental science, I believe that an interdisciplinary education is key to student success. As I look back on my career so far, I see a number of seemingly unrelated skills and interests that have played a key role in giving me the ability to approach questions in ways that other people may not. For example, learning programming helped me write programs to analyze my data in Matlab, JMP, SQL, and R; web and graphic design helped me display and share my findings in unique and interesting ways; fabrication techniques (e.g., machining and circuitry) built research equipment that couldn’t be bought; photography gave me the ability to capture nature’s intricacies both for its scientific value and inherent beauty; and art gave me a window to show others components of science in approachable ways.