Teaching Philosophy

As an educator, my main goal is to instill independent critical thinking and creativity, while maintaining a high standard for retaining important biological concepts. In this way, I hope to prepare my students to excel in whatever career they pursue. As a botanist, I am acutely aware of challenges in overcoming "plant blindness", and continually search for creative ways to incorporate multi-media and hands-on experiences to illustrate complex concepts with active learning. I also use concrete examples from my own research and life experiences to relate more directly to my students.

Pressing a water lily in the field
(click for more photos!)

Advanced Field Botany
While at the University of Idaho, I helped to develop and teach a new field-based botany course with my advisor, David Tank, at the University of Idaho's McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS). This course provides experience with field identification and botanical collection techniques, while contributing more broadly to our understanding of the flora of central Idaho. Alternating days between collecting plants in the surrounding Payette National Forest with lectures in yurts is the best way to learn about plant systematics.

Promoting plant research
I had the privilege to work with Dr. Chris Martine from Bucknell University and help film the second episode of "Plants Are Cool, Too!", his educational video series. With the aim of increasing interest in plant biology, Dr. Martine travels around the country highlighting various botanical research projects. Intrigued by our work sequencing 15 million-year-old DNA Clarkia fossil site, Chris flew out to northern Idaho to help us dig up incredibly well-preserved plant fossils. The result is worth watching...the best part is at the end!