Studying the Earth changes our sense of place
This shift in perspective is empowering and inspires scientific curiosity. When I teach, I aim to stimulate this curiosity, recognize and build on it when it appears spontaneously, and use it to motivate my students.
My interest in teaching grew side-by-side with my scientific training. As an undergraduate, I worked at Carleton College's Science Education Resource Center, editing and compiling online resources for geoscience educators. As a result, I became fascinated by the pedagogy of geology at the same time I was captivated by the science itself.
Assistant Professor | Idaho State University
Courses I teach every year
Earth Materials I (mineralogy, Fall semesters)
Minerals are the building blocks of our planet; their abundance and distribution records geologic processes, from plate tectonics and volcanism to weathering and climate. In this course, we learn about mineral structure and chemistry because they dictate the physical properties of rocks—such as density, strength, rheology, seismic velocity, stability at current conditions—and therefore dictate the dynamics of geologic processes. The study of minerals, mineralogy, is essential for all geoscientists.
Earth Materials II (petrology, Spring semesters)
This course focuses on the science of rock description, classification, associations, and genesis. This is also known as petrology, literally the explanation (lógos) of rock (pétra). We study igneous and metamorphic rocks and the processes that produce them. We also explore big questions about the evolution of the solid Earth. Why are the continents granitic and the oceanic crust basaltic? How do we know the composition of the mantle?
Upper-level courses I teach regularly
Geochronology and Thermochronology (graduate course)
An overview of the geochemical methods used to date Earth materials and thus explore the history and dynamics of Earth and planetary processes. This course covers the fundamentals of radioactive decay and growth, the diffusion of elements in minerals and heat in the Earth, the use of radioisotopes as tracers, and the applications of geochronology and thermochronology to a range of problems in the Geosciences. Geo-thermochron is an expansive topic with many important complexities, so we focus on the methods relevant to the research interests of students. Most recently taught fall of 2020.
MATLAB for the Earth and Environmental Sciences (grad/undergrad)
A basic introduction to the MATLAB® programming language and computing environment as a tool for studying the Earth. We explore geoscience questions using image analysis, numerical modeling, and the visualization of real data while covering the fundamentals of working in the command window, using arithmetic and logical operations, calling built-in functions, and writing scripts. This course is designed for students with little or no programming background. Most recently taught spring of 2021.
Chemical Evolution of the Earth (grad/undergrad, alternating springs)
Approaches to understanding Earth's geochemical evolution from core to clouds, including planetary differentiation, internal processes, plate tectonics, and surficial processes. Will likely be offered in the spring of 2022.
Courses I co-teach
Advanced Physical Geology, GEOL 6601 (required graduate course, odd-year falls with Dave Pearson)
An introduction to the Geosciences department, its faculty, and an evaluation of current research topics in the Geosciences through discussion and critical evaluation of scientific literature.
Geological Writing Seminar, GEOL 6603 (required graduate course, spring 2021 with Dave Pearson)
Review of quality geologic writing and presentation practices. Topics include abstract, poster and manuscript preparation, grant proposals, thesis prospecti, and use of reference library.
Seminar (grad/undergrad, most recently Spring 2020 with Paul Link)
Department field trip, run every semester to a different area of interest.
Visiting Assistant Professor | Hamilton College
Principles of Geoscience: Geologic Hazards (Fall 2018)
This introductory course uses fundamental concepts in geology to explore natural hazards. Topics include using the geologic record to understand the frequency and magnitude of past events; the impact humans have on the processes that generate natural hazards; community resilience and risk reduction; and how natural disasters have shaped humanity’s relationship with the environment.
MATLAB for the Earth and Environmental Sciences (Spring 2019)
A basic introduction to the MATLAB® programming language and computing environment as a tool for studying the Earth. We explore Earth science questions using image analysis, numerical modeling, and the visualization of real data while covering the fundamentals of working in the command window, using arithmetic and logical operations, calling built-in functions, and writing scripts. This course is geared towards students with no programming background.
Sedimentology & Stratigraphy (Spring 2019)
A study of the genesis and diagenesis of clastic, carbonate, evaporite and other important sediments and rocks. Emphasis on fluid dynamics of grain transport, facies architecture, stratigraphy, and paleoclimatic/ tectonic significance of depositional sequences.