Teaching philosophy and experience

I am convinced that there are natural feedbacks between teaching and research that reciprocally benefit student learning and generate novel inquiries. During the process of preparing for lecture, and then again while answering questions, there is a tremendous opportunity for connecting disparate facts and challenging weakly granted assumptions. So too when examples from the instructor's research can actively illuminate difficult lecture concepts, the engagement with student learning is more tangible.

I value active in situ learning, as there is no substitute for experiencing the concepts of study while visiting real ecosystems, collecting your own data, and writing your own field notes. Hearing that glacial cycles led to the formation of intermittent lakes is the first step, but visiting the sandy shores of dry lakes to envision waxing and waning waters moving those sands over millennia is a more advanced understanding of the truth. In my teaching, I aim to regularly engage in field instruction, whether for short trips as part of lecture courses, or multi-week summer courses involving experiments, data collection, and analysis.


2014. Sessional Faculty, McMaster University, Department of Biology, Autumn semester: Gave 36 lectures (1-hr each) and designed exams for “Biodiversity, Evolution & Humanity,” an introductory majors course of 700 students that I co-taught with Ben Bolker.

2012. Program Facilitator, Project Exploration education non-profit in Chicago Public Schools. Led weekly “Brothers4Science” program, 6th-8th graders at Ariel Community Academy (Chicago).


2016. Yale Scientific Teaching Fellow, Biological Sciences, Yale University (Spring semester). Pedagogy course on active learning and evidence-based teaching methods.

2009. Teaching Assistant Training Course, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Chicago (Fall quarter). Pedagogy course providing practical skills for lecturing and styles of teaching.


2012. University of Chicago: “Ecology & Evolution in the Southwest” (Spring quarter). Led a weekly discussion section of 20 students on topics in desert ecology; field supervision and teaching during a four-week fieldtrip to the SW USA deserts.

2011. University of Chicago: “Biogeography” (Winter quarter). Led weekly labs of 8 students on spatial modeling of species ranges; gave a guest lecture.

2010. University of Chicago: “Insect Ecology & Evolution” (Fall quarter). Gave a guest lecture and graded exams for the lecture section.

2010. Northwestern University, SERTS teaching program workshop leader. Led 4 undergraduate students in projects related to museum science and mammal conservation.

2009. University of Chicago: “Mammalian Ecology” (Spring quarter). Led weekly labs of 20 students in identifying mammalian skull features.

2007. Occidental College: “Evolutionary Biology” (Fall semester). Led weekly review sessions for lecture topics, graded exams, and assisted with final projects.

2006, 2007. Lab instructor and lecturer, Occidental College, High School Summer Oceanology Program.

2005. Occidental College: “Evolutionary Biology” (Fall semester). Graded exams and helped run weekly review sessions.