Teaching & Outreach

I prefer to teach by encouraging students to ask smart questions, to observe thoughtfully, and to learn through doing.

We've managed everything from history to horticulture.

Four students stand around water collection sump in Gilmore City, IA.


I guide Iowa State University undergraduate interns on independent research projects, including one honors project, and have mentored others in the past. I also help with job and graduate school placement.

University teaching experience

I have guided students through lecture halls and swamps, discussions and studies, individually and in groups of over a hundred, at introductory and graduate levels.

I taught the "Human ecology" unit in this course at Duke University in Fall 2017. I designed interactive lesson plans with minimal lecturing and mostly activity, largely group simulations of decision-making processes, since these students were primarily environmental management master's students, interspersed with varied audiovisual materials. We wrapped up by discussing what students had concluded at the end of each class. I assigned and graded a writing assignment based on the unit. Some students told me that they appreciated the variation in class format relative to the rest of the course, but, as others commented, I could have planned and maintained organization better.

I led a book discussion group on Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, and gave guest lectures on genetics and on urban ecology in this course at Duke University in Spring 2016. I graded exams, participation, and the final papers I assigned my reading group, and included a mock urban planning exercise in my guest lecture. My students learned to appreciate the difficult social dimensions of environmentalist solutions, and I learned to be more careful about ensuring that the students understood what they were supposed to have gotten out of each class by the end.

I ran a short "Cool Urban Web Thing of the Day" segment each class, guided students through group research, and graded papers in this course at Duke University in Spring 2015.

I contributed to teaching in the Spring 2015 Duke Immerse program joint with Paul Quinn College, including two other courses, in environmental justice and social entrepreneurship. I guest lectured on designed experiments and assisted with student projects and issues that arose during the coursework portion, and took on a leadership role in administering the program in the project stage, including guiding students through organizing a community creek clean-up on the Paul Quinn College campus in Dallas. We all learned a great deal more about managing interpersonal and bureaucratic tensions than we expected in this program, and about how to make a course work with students from mixed backgrounds.

In this course at Duke University in Fall 2014, I graded written assignments and offered office hours which included individualized extensive review of course material, which I learned to re-explain in different ways and media until my students understood.

In this companion course to a lecture at Carleton College in 2009, given a study system and materials to use, students designed every lab that their fellow students completed each week, then analyzed the data and presented it to their colleagues the following week, and wrote their results in journal article format. I guided each week's student leaders behind the scenes to make sure they stayed on track, and worked with them, professors, and staff to ensure that all logistics worked before, during, and after classes. I also helped students as needed with independent research conducted from question to paper in small groups. Students learned to practice the scientific method in its entirety, how to really do ecology, and I learned how to steer students without telling them what to do, to make them think for themselves instead.


I do outreach!

have a variety of experience and training, including as a Virginia Master Naturalist, working as an interpretive park ranger, guest-teaching in (and outside of) K-12 classrooms, helping design a blueways system and guide, judging science fairs, and making lesson plans.

Pre-K to 12 Lesson Plans

water management game logo

SciREN Portal

Most of the lesson plans I have developed, and many more, are available via the Science Research Education Network.

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