Teaching and Mentoring

I facilitate learning through a combined approach of classroom discussions, short lectures, and experiential learning. I believe students benefit the most from expanding on, and applying, knowledge learned in the classroom in real-life settings.

Director and Co-founder of the Environmental Scholars Program

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Sheryl Bradford, undergraduate Environmental Scholar, and Chase Hershberger, work study student, coring soils in the VCU Rice Rivers Center forested wetland.

In 2017 and 2018 I directed the Environmental Scholars Program, a program I co-founded with Drs. Chris Gough and Scott Neubauer. The Environmental Scholars Program, supported by the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, facilitates undergraduate research and mentoring, supplying students with research budgets to conduct their own projects paired with a science faculty member or graduate student mentor. We engaged a cohort of 8 undergraduate student scholars, with separate informal meetings and panels covering topics including the graduate school application process, research communication, and career development. The 2017 scholars presented their projects at Integrative Life Sciences Showcase.

Eco-Techniques, Biology 491

In Summer 2017, I co-created and co-instructed Ecotechniques. This course, taught for the first time at VCU’s Rice Rivers Center, offered advanced hands-on, experiential undergraduate training in environmental sciences and field ecology. Participants learned experimental design, and technical approaches to data collection, analysis, and visualization. Two primary thematic modules centered on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem productivity. Each module combined classroom training with research-grade lab experience to uniquely and more comprehensively train students.

Forest Ecosystems and Carbon Cycling, Intro Bio Lab 173

In Spring 2018, I co-taught a 4-week intensive ARC-course with Cindee Giffen at the University of Michigan Biological Station. The course built on foundational, biological concepts to introduce real-world applications and scientific research (mainly in forest biogeochemistry and disturbance events).

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University of Michigan undergraduates braved beech thickets and downed logs to collect data on forest recovery following BBD-induced mortality.

I coordinated research projects and selected research sites for student projects; created and delivered lectures on forest disturbance, beech bark disease (BBD), and environmental change; and wrote instructional modules on research techniques and equipment.

Other teaching experience:

  • Guest lecturer; Forest Ecology (Biology 422), Fall 2017
  • Guest lecturer; Water, Biology, and Chemistry (Biology 693), Fall 2016
  • Adjunct Instructor; Introductory Biological Lab (Biology 152), Spring 2015
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant of Ecology lab (Biology 317), Introductory Biology Labs (Biology 151 and 152), and Forest Ecology (Biology 422), Fall 2012 – Spring 2014

Undergraduate students mentored:

  • Catherine McGuigan, Independent Study, 2018, VCU
  • Sheryl Bradford, Directed Study & Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Nadia Bangura, Directed Study, 2017, VCU
  • Caroline Baucom, Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Brooke Goodnow, Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Drashty Paresh Mody, Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Raquell Wetzell, Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Coridon Butts, Environmental Scholars, 2017, VCU
  • Marrina Nation, PINEMAP Intern, 2015, California State University Eastbay
  • Ashley Williams, Independent Study, 2015, VCU