In my courses I strive to engage students in the scientific process, asking them to generate hypotheses, design experiments, collect observations, reach conclusions, and communicate results. Through this process students develop and hone widely applicable skills while learning Earth and environmental science methods and content.
My commitment to engaged pedagogy extends beyond Wesleyan. I have contributed to several national efforts to improve the teaching of undergraduate geoscience courses, developing and sharing a number of hands-on data-rich teaching activities. Links to these curricular contributions can be found on my SERC Profile page.
Below are descriptions of courses I teach.
E&ES 101 Dynamic Earth
The earth is a dynamic planet, as tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions make tragically clear. The very processes that lead to these natural disasters, however, also make life itself possible and create things of beauty and wonder. In this course we will study the forces and processes that shape our natural environment. Topics range in scale from the global pattern of mountain ranges to the atomic structure of minerals and in time from billions of years of Earth history to the few seconds it takes for a fault to slip during an earthquake. Hands-on activities and short field trips complement lectures to bring the material to life–so put on your hiking boots and get ready to explore our planet.
E&ES 195 Sophomore Field Course
This course is designed for sophomores who have declared a major in earth and environmental sciences. The course will give students a common experience and a more in-depth exposure to the department curriculum prior to their junior year. Students will be exposed to the wide variety of geological terrains and ecological environments of southern New England.
E&ES 223 Structural Geology
Structural geology is the study of the physical evidence and processes of rock deformation, including jointing, faulting, folding, and flow. Geologic structures can be used to interpret tectonic history and understand physical process responsible for geologic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides. Many structures also exert a primary control on fluid flow in the earth’s crust and thus play an important role in determining the distribution of natural resources and environmental contaminants. In this course students will learn the theoretical foundations, observational techniques, and analytical methods used in modern structural geology. Case studies are drawn from local field work (see description of E&ES224) and published data sets from around the world.
E&ES 224 Field Geology
This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of geological principles in the field. Emphasis will be on describing, measuring, and mapping bedrock geology and structures with applications to tectonics, mountain building, earthquake science, volcanology, and groundwater hydrology.
E&ES 301 New England Geology
For more than a century, students and professionals interested in the geology of New England have gathered at the annual meeting of the New England Intercollegiate Geologic Conference (NEIGC), a weekend of field-based education. In this seminar, we will choose three NEIGC fieldtrips to attend, study the appropriate background material in preparation for the trips, and compile our own guide to the trips that summarizes the appropriate background material. The class will culminate in attendance at the annual NEIGC meeting.
At the end of this course, you will not only know a lot more about New England geology and have met many current and future field geologists, but you will also have learned to synthesize the literature to assess the current state of knowledge and evaluate how field studies can advance our understanding of regional geology and environmental issues.
E&ES 375 Modeling the Earth and environment
Models can provide insights into Earth systems that are difficult to obtain by direct experimentation or observation. This course will introduce students to the process of translating Earth systems into idealized mathematical models, specific methods for solving the resulting equations, and implementation of models in MATLAB. We will explore cases from a range of topics in the earth and environmental sciences to gain a better appreciation of the insights models can offer.
E&ES 497 Senior Seminar
This seminar-style capstone course for E&ES seniors explores major topics that span multiple sub-disciplines of the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Students will use the primary literature to create hypothesis-driven oral presentations and written reports. In groups, students will develop and execute original, field-based research projects. Data will be collected for these projects during a multi-day field trip. Students will then analyze and interpret their data, and then present their findings with a group presentation and written report. The goal of the course is to help students transition to independent, professional scientists.
E&ES 498 Senior Field Research Project
This course is for E&ES majors who have completed E&ES497 Senior Seminar and focuses on improving scientific research skills. The optional research excursion will be taught during the month of January at a designated field area. Past classes have conducted research in Death Valley, California, the main island of Puerto Rico, and the Big Island of Hawaii. In January and throughout the third quarter, students will execute the research projects developed in E&ES497 Senior Seminar. This course will conclude with student group presentations and written reports.