Undergraduate curriculum development; Evolutionary ecology
Though my research background is in Evolutionary Ecology, specifically Conservation Biology and Botany, I have moved away from lab/field research into the study of science education at the college level. My work takes two approaches: course development and course tool development. My course development focus is on designing and implementing new courses as well as employing new teaching techniques to improve content transfer to students and to enhance the broader experience of being a student in the Department of Biological Sciences. In terms of course tools, I have spent several years focusing on how computer simulation can help educate students to intuitively understand evolutionary biology, population genetics, and, most recently, Mendelian genetics; using a tool developed through collaboration with the Computer Science and Engineering department called Pop!World. Pop!World allows a college-level student to explore the five microevolutionary forces and see their effect in real time, an experience unavailable in a traditional wet-lab environment. We also have versions in development for lower level students and entering college students to explore Medelian genetics and are beginning to work on a version for advanced college and graduate students to serve as a clearinghouse for online tools for studying evolution. I am focused on rigorous data collection on how these two approaches, new courses and course tools, affect student learning and experience.