Teaching

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY:

Having come from a liberal arts background, I have always conceptualized college coursework as having a two-fold purpose. The first is to provide a holistic educational opportunity for the studentóour world is not constrained by boundaries as artificial as those created in the University environment. Therefore, coursework should transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries as well. The second is the development of a set of practical skills for students to be successful in their future endeavors, both in upper-level university coursework as well as after graduation. In particular, I have striven to focus on skill development as an integral portion of my teaching. For example, my introductory physical geography course has included a series of exercises designed to help students become familiar with Microsoft Excel. My upper-level courses also include a practical element such as: education on the use of GIS software, scientific poster sessions, or hands-on field instrumentation experience. Such practical skills are useful across a broad range of earth science disciplines and increase a studentís marketability when searching for a career after graduation.

Striking a balance between subject matter accessibility and challenging studentsí critical thinking skills is crucial. Several of my students and faculty supervisors have noted that one of my strongest attributes as a course instructor is my ability to convey complex information in an accessible manner. To this end, I believe that exposing students to real-life data collection and analysis as early as possible is pivotal to capturing studentsí interest in attracting and retaining students in a major and facilitates comprehension of material that might otherwise seem imposing when presented without practical application.

I desire to make my classroom inclusive for students with disabilities and students of all genders, ethnic backgrounds, financial situations, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, and life circumstances. To this end, I typically will conduct a brief, informal, written but confidential survey at the beginning of each semester asking students to identify particular experiences they have had in the general field of the course materials I will present. This helps me identify which areas will require more focused attention as the semester progresses. While most of the course material I present is fairly non-controversial, I recognize that not all students are adequately exposed to the geosciences, and students from minority backgrounds are disproportionately affected. I encourage students who are finding difficulties with course materials to come to my office hours, and I make every effort to meet with any student that requires assistance.

COURSES TAUGHT:

World Regional Geography: Geography 151, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, UT Martin (42-50 students per section)
Description: An integrated study of the cultural, economic, political and physical aspects of countries and regions within North America, Europe and Russia
Syllabus

Physical Geography: Geography 201, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, UT Martin (26 Students)
Description: An introduction to patterns and processes that shape Earth's natural environments
Syllabus

Principles of Meteorology: Geography 305, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, UT Martin (11-15 Students)
Description: An introduction to the elements and processes that shape the weather. Weather observation techniques, weather analysis and forecasting will be emphasized. Atmospheric hazards and air quality issues will also be presented.
Syllabus

Boundary Layer Meteorology: Geography 320, Spring 2013, UT Martin (13 Students)
Description: The planetary boundary layer is the layer of the atmosphere that humans live in, that fills up with atmospheric pollutants, and that is heated through solar radiation on a daily basis. This class focuses on the physical processes that occur within the boundary layer by applying physical principles to describe exchanges of mass and energy at the surface. Students will be exposed to the structure and physics of the boundary layer and the current approaches used to observe and model it.
Syllabus

Introduction to Remote Sensing: Geography 364, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, UT Martin (15 Students)
Description: An introduction to the principles and concepts of remote sensing as a tool for geographic inquiry. Emphasis will include the nature of remote sensing images (photographs, satellite imagery, radar) and their analysis and interpretation for applications in geographic inquiry and environmental assessment. (Required for GIS Certification)
Syllabus

Atmospheric Thermodynamics: Geography 440, Fall 2013, UT Martin (5 Students)
Description: Thermodynamics deals with the processes that transfer energy and help to create and change atmospheric systems. Knowledge of the basic principles of thermodynamics and their interactions will facilitate students' comprehension of meteorological processes that determine the weather and climate of the Earth. Understanding thermodynamic processes is critical to accurate assessment of the current state of the atmosphere and to accurate evaluation of the output from numerical models of weather and climate. This course will cover these thermodynamic principles.
Syllabus

Atmospheric Dynamics: Geography 460, Spring 2014, UT Martin (5 Students)
Description: This course is the second of two courses that examine the physics of the atmosphere. Atmospheric Dynamics focuses on motion and circulation in the atmosphere, and builds upon the principles covered in Atmospheric Thermodynamics.
Syllabus

Special Topics: Mesoscale Meteorology and Climatology: Geography 491, Fall 2014, UT Martin (10 Students)
Description: This course focuses on atmospheric processes that occur at scale lengths between 10 and 1000km. Topics covered will include thunderstorm formation, lake-effect snow, mesoscale convective complexes, and the effects of smaller mountain ranges on atmospheric flow. This course will involve some mesoscale atmospheric modeling and will culminate with a paper and poster session. Papers and posters will be of sufficient quality and novelty to present at the 2015 AMS student conference this January in Phoenix.
Syllabus (Coming Soon)

Special Topics: Severe Weather: Geography 491, Fall 2012, UT Martin (9 Students)
Description: This course is an in-depth examination of severe weather phenomena. Severe weather impacts society through loss of life, damage to property and crops, and can cause disruptions in transportation networks. This course will focus on the use of peer-reviewed journal articles to gain a better appreciation for severe weather topics, and will culminate with a final project in the form of a scientific poster presentation.
Syllabus

Special Topics: Instrumentation and Climate Field Methods: Geography 492, Spring 2013, UT Martin (5 Students)
Description: This course will examine issues surrounding the siting of weather stations, differences in accuracy and precision of various instruments used to measure atmospheric variables, and will also examine issues surrounding the storage and manipulation of data.
Syllabus

TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS

Physical Geography, Climatic Processes (Lecture): Geography 101, Summer 2007, University of Delaware (Instructor of Record, 17 students)
Description: Introduction to processes responsible for weather, climate and climatic change. Implications of climate for ecosystems and human activities. Earth-sun relations, geographic coordinate systems and map interpretation. Together GEOG101 and 106 form a comprehensive introduction to physical geography and its tools.
Syllabus
Permafrost Visualization and Analysis Exercise
Final Project: Severe Weather Case Study
Grading Rubric for Final Project

General Geology (Laboratory): Geology 107, Spring 2007, University of Delaware (Supervisor: Leslie Hasbargen, Four sections totalling 105 students)
Description: Principles of physical geology and its application in interpreting earth processes. Laboratory covers identification of earth materials and the interpretation of topographic and geologic maps.

Human Geography (Teaching Assistant, Discussion Section Facilitator): Geography 102, Spring 2006, University of Delaware (Supervisor: April Veness, Two sections totalling approx. 45 students)
Description: Examination of the spatial distribution of human activities worldwide. Particular attention is given to those factors and processes that have led to spatial inequality and locational conflict from the international scale to the neighborhood scale.

Physical Geography, Climatic Processes (Laboratory): Geography 111, Fall 2005, University of Delaware (Supervisor: David Legates, Two sections totalling approx. 30 students)
Description: Laboratory investigation of processes responsible for weather, climate and climatic change. Implications of climate for ecosystems and human activities. Earth-sun relations, geographic coordinate systems and map interpretation.

Environmental Geochemistry and Analysis (Teaching Assistant): Geology 203, Fall 2003, Colgate University (Supervisor: Karen Harpp, Approx. 10 students)
Description: The focus of this interdisciplinary laboratory and field-based course is the development of practical skills essential to the study of natural systems. Through a series of local projects, students learn how to address environmental questions, including experimental design, collection and analysis of samples, interpretation of data, and presentation of conclusions. Specific skills include techniques for the chemical analysis of natural materials including rock, soil, and water, statistical analysis, sample collection, and methods of data presentation. Laboratory and lecture are fully integrated and meet once or twice a week. Occasional day-long sampling and field trips.

Responsibilities included: Preparing Laboratory for Analysis, Sample Preparation, Field Sampling, GIS tutoring, Interpretation of instrument output for GC-MS and ICP-MS

Having taken this class in Fall 2002, and served as a Teaching Assistant in Fall 2003, I worked on a pedagogical development project with Dr. Karen Harpp in Spring 2004 that was presented at the American Geophysical Union Joint assembly in Montreal, Quebec in May, 2004. (Click for poster) Below are some pictures taken near, on, and around Onondaga Lake while sampling during the Fall, 2003 semester:


STUDENT EVALUATIONS OF TEACHING:

As an educator at the University level, there are few opportunities to receive tangible feedback save for end-of-semester teaching evaluations. What follows is a sample of the feedback I have received for my courses:

"I think he is a wonderful professor. He presented the course very well. It was one of my favorite classes. I am considering taking Geology as my science because I enjoyed this class so much. He seems like he genuinely wants for his students to have a great learning experience and grasp of the subject/course." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"He is very organized and his teaching is very structured which makes learning a great experience. He also is clear about his expectations and instructions on the assignments and this is very helpful." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"I truly enjoyed the fact that the instructor knew about the subject and that he had traveled to the majority of the places and had personal stories of the experience. That alone made the learning experience more fun because of the knowledge and insight he had." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"he was so enthusiastic that even the person who hated geography could enjoy it with him. He was a very effictive as a teacher and I would love to have him as a teacher again." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"He tries to be funny and sometimes he succeeds, but it is more fun to watch him laugh at himself. He's very corny." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"I appreciated how the course was laid out. Nothing was unexpected." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"I would take him again if I could. One of my favorite teachers so far." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

"Extremely knowledgeable about the topics he taught. I also thought he was very friendly and approachable, in and out of class. Great professor. I couldn't believe that it was his first semester because he was clear and precise when teaching." (Geography 151: World Regional Geography: Noth America, Europe & Russia)

In response to "What did you like best about this course?": "The weather discussions before and during class. The application of the knowledge really helps me to comprehend the material better." (Geography 305: Principles of Meteorology)