I am an evolutionary biologist, and I care about teaching evolution because, as noted by Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” While I hope to inspire my students to pursue careers in evolutionary science, my first job as a science educator is to provide access to scientific literacy. Literacy in evolutionary biology has never been more important. Evolutionary processes shape every facet of the natural world, and the COVID-19 pandemic gives us a clear example of how evolution impacts our daily lives [Indeed, the story of how phylogenetics routinely saves us from dire epidemiological events is not told often enough]. More generally, a limited understanding of evolution can impede a person’s ability to make informed decisions on important issues. As discussed by Brandt et al. 2022, scientific literacy encompasses four key learning goals: content knowledge, procedural knowledge, epistemic knowledge, and the application of knowledge. These axes are critical in understanding and evaluating the evidence for evolutionary processes, as well as in applying evolutionary concepts to real-world situations.
You can read more of my thoughts on teaching and check out prior course evaluations in my teaching dossier here.
University of Michigan
- Guest lecturer in Analytical Paleobiology EARTH 444, November 2023 – “Estimating Evolutionary Timescales”
- Faculty invitation from (Dr. Matt Friedman)
- Guest lecturer in Vertebrate Paleontology EARTH 437, December 2021 – “The Evolution of Birds”
- BIOEE 1780: Evolutionary Biology and Diversity
- “Writing in the Majors” seminar, Fall 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018
- I designed semester long seminar courses with guidance from the John. S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. My course offered undergraduates an opportunity to engage with and learn to write about primary scientific literature in a variety of formats. Student evaluations available.
- BIOEE 2650, Tropical Field Ecology and Behavior (field course in Kenya), Winter 2014
Other teaching activities and links to recorded talks available in my CV.