I find teaching both rewarding and challenging and strive to implement best practices when designing and teaching courses
In 2017, I created the course Animal Behavior (11:216:441) which is taught during the summer session at Rutgers University. In this course, students gain a fundamental understanding of how evolutionary processes shape animal's behavior. The course is focused on active learning with students designing experiments to test and observe animal behavior in action. The course also reinforces students' ability to understand and communicate scientific ideas.
I have been teaching the Vertebrate Zoology lab since 2016 and restructured the course in 2017 when I transitioned to the role of head Teaching Assistant. Originally, the course focused on memorization of specimen with no other learning goals or assessments. Now the course focuses on connecting vertebrate morphology to life history allowing students to see trends across taxa. Students also focus on homologous features and investigate how features are changed and adapted to best suit the life history of the animal. To achieve these goals, students work with specimen including field skins and skeletons and are assessed on broader concepts in addition to identification
What Students are Saying:
Principles of Natural Resource Management
Principles of Natural Resource Management is a field based course that teaches students forestry and natural resource management skills. Over the past three years I have helped restructure labs and assessments to be more dynamic and engaging to the students. The capstone of this course is a semester long project in which students implement a management practice in the Rutgers Ecological Preserve and asses their practice.
Caroline Beardsley (linkedin)
Caroline is a junior at Rutgers University and has been working with me since 2016. Caroline started working with me as a Aresty Research Assistant working to identify and sort invertebrate samples. Caroline has gone on to present our work at the annual Aresty Symposium at Rutgers (2016), at the Student Conference on Conservation Science in New York (2017), and most recently at the Ecological Society of America in New Orleans (2018). Caroline has also helped me conduct initial research for a meta-analysis I am co-authoring. Currently, Caroline is a Peer Instructor at the Aresty Research Center.
Skills Gained: Over the past years Caroline refined many of her scientific skills through our work together
-Data entry and management
-Increased scientific literacy including ability to understand and write scientific papers
-Basic coding and figure making in R
"And Then There Was Light: Influence of Novel Light Sources on Arthropod Communities". J Brown, Caroline Beardsley*, Julie Lockwood, Max Piana. Poster Session, ESA 2018.
Gloria Blaise (website)
Gloria is starting her master's program in Cornell's Department of Natural Resources in the fall of 2018. Gloria is interested in human wildlife interactions and particularly interested in people's perception of wildlife. Gloria and I worked together to write and collect data for her Cook Scholars Senior Thesis. Over the course of this project, I worked with Gloria to on best practices for designing sampling protocols as well as how to implement those protocols. Gloria also gained skills in data organization and analysis using R.
Currently, Gloria is formatting her senior thesis for publication and it should be submitted in the fall of 2018.
Gloria Blaise, R Jordan, JA Brown, AE Sorenson. The Impact of Forest Usage and Accessibility on the Perceptions of its Users and Surrounding Residents. In Prep