I have been a member of the Saint Michael's College Biology Department since 2001. I teach in the Fall General Biology, and Community Ecology. In Spring I switch gears and teach Biological Reading and Writing and Biology in Elementary Schools. I'm a community ecologist with a focus on freshwater systems.
Teaching: In all of my courses I use a hands-on approach. The General Biology laboratory program was developed by the entire teaching team (Denise Martin, Doug Green, Peter Hope, and myself) with input and support from the Biology Chair Valerie Banschbach. In the early weeks of the course, General Biology students spend little time in the laboratory and instead work in sandplain forests that have been burned, cut and burned, or left unmanipulated. Student teams join their professors in a semester-long research experience utilizing field data to answer a range of applied conservation and basic ecology questions and present their findings in a poster session and ice-cream social at the end of the term.
My Community Ecology students focus on species interactions and biological diversity working for the most part in aquatic ecosystems. We take advantage of our proximity to Lake Champlain and its tributaries to study ecology in the field. Beginning in 2007 we began utilizing nine artificial in-ground ponds installed on campus by the Saint Michael's College Physical Plant Department. The ponds are realistic biological systems that can be easily manipulated. Just west of campus we study fish communities in a former reservoir that drains our campus and the adjacent Gilbrook Natural Area. Near the end of the term we move indoors and use computer simulations to look at island systems using data from around the globe.
In Biological Reading and Writing we combine readings I choose with student-selected readings. The subject matter is divided among ecology, medical and health, and cell and molecular biology. Most readings are primary sources with a smaller number of reviews. Students give presentations and write about the papers they read.
In Biology in Elementary Schools we partner with Mater Christi School, Lawrence Barnes Elementary, and most recently Edmunds Elementary. Students travel from the grade schools to Saint Michael's College, or we travel to them. Saint Michael's College Elementary Education majors develop science lesson plans that respond to the learning objectives established by the schools. Our students work hard to make the experiences as hands-on as possible. The grade school students pose and then test hypotheses, model biological systems, and run experiments. We have worked with about three hundred grade school students from grades one through four thus far. The partnership is a two-way street with our students learning about teaching, and grade school students learning science. All of the teaching ideas developed by our education majors have been uploaded to to serve as a long term resource for our graduates and any other teachers interested in tried and tested science lessons.
a significant outreach program with collaborators from UVM, Middlebury College, Norwich University, Johnson State College, and Saint Michael's College working with more than a dozen high school teams from the Champlain Basin and beyond.