I find that mentoring students outside of a traditional classroom setting is one of the most rewarding aspects of an academic career. My interest in mentoring and teaching began when I was a high school student tutoring younger students in a variety of science topics. I continued mentoring and tutoring students in the sciences as an undergraduate at Grand Valley State University and more formally in graduate school at both North Carolina State University and the University of California, Irvine.
- As a Lecturer in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UC-Irvine, I advise students minoring in Global Sustainability, and seek to connect students with opportunities for outreach and community-engaged scholarship through a variety of independent study (Bio 197) opportunities, and by developing programs like the Spring Break in the Desert service-learning program which is co-sponsored by the Center for Environmental Biology and the Salton Sea Initiative.
- In my position as Education and Outreach Coordinator for UC-Irvine's Center for Environmental Biology (CEB), I advised and mentored 12 students in a partnership with community experts in informal science education (e.g. Crystal Cove Alliance) to conduct K-12 education and outreach events related to local environmental science research. This unique program directly channels current university-level environmental research to K-12 student groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines while simultaneously training undergraduate students to effectively communicate complex science to broad audiences
- Over the course of my dissertation research at UC-Irvine, I mentored 17 undergraduate students for >7500 hours of supervised research in both lab and field settings, including four independent undergraduate student projects. I taught students experimental design, data collection methods, field techniques for measuring plant traits and collecting insect community samples, laboratory protocols for processing samples and preparing them for chemical or isotope analysis, microscope use and arthropod identification, and data entry and management. Several of these students have gone on to careers in biology or to graduate school and still call on me for advice and letters of recommendation.
- During my Master's Thesis research, I mentored six post-baccalaureate field biologists who worked for me full-time for a total of eleven months based at a field station in Puerto Rico (where my research was conducted). This field research crew included folks from the United States, Canada, Spain, and Puerto Rico. Through this experience I learned a tremendous amount about diversity....cultural, ethnic, linguistic, political, and scientific!