As a scientist, I am highly committed to integrating research and education and facilitating hands-on learning. Below, I outline several educational programs that I’ve participated in and/or led.
GEAR UP Science Lab Day
GEAR UP is a college-preparedness program for inner-city students that is run by UTC (Director: Dr. Hunter Huckabay). Each summer, my students and I lead hands-on science activities during the annual GEAR UP summer camp. In the past, students have dissected sharks, and more recently, GEAR UP students participated in a lab in which they simulated firefly mating behavior.
GEAR UP Aquatic Biology Days
My students and I have led Aquatic Science Days with ~50 GEAR UP students. As part of this activity, GEAR UP students participated in a wildlife canoe trip, nature scavenger hunt, and water quality activity at the North Chickamauga Creek Conservation Area. These activities allowed students to gain field-based science experiences.
Enrichment for Students & Animals
During 2015-2017, I co-led (with Drs. Preston Foerder & Loren Hayes and Professor Sarah Farnsley) an outreach project in which undergraduate and high school students developed and implemented animal enrichment activities at the Chattanooga Zoo, TN Aquarium, and Chattanooga Nature Center. This project fostered hands-on animal behavior education, community engagement, and mentoring experience for students.
Hamilton County Professional Development for Teachers
I have co-led professional development lectures and activities for Hamilton County, TN K-12 educators. These lectures and activities focused on biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and animal behavior.
High School Student Mentoring in Research
During 2017 and 2018, I mentored three high-school students at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy in research activities for their senior projects. In 2016-2017, I mentored one high-school student from Signal Mountain High School in computational biology research in my lab, and this research resulted in a peer-reviewed publication with the student as the lead author.
Undergraduate Student & Post-Bac Mentoring
I serve as the faculty advisor for UTC's Women in the Natural Sciences, and I previously served as the faculty advisor for the UTC chapter of Sigma Beta Rho, a multi-cultural fraternity. Undergraduate students and post-bacs are integrated into all aspects of my research. Thus far, I have supervised ~80 students in research. Many of my students are co-authors on peer-reviewed publications, several have conducted research internationally, and many have attended and presented at conferences. In the past year, my students and post-bacs have travelled to Finland, Sweden, and the UK for research.
I teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Recent courses include Evolution (undergraduate, face-to-face and online), Principles of Biology (undergraduate, face-to-face and online), Advanced Topics in Evolutionary Ecology (undergraduate and graduate, face-to-face and online), Biodiversity in Mate Selection (undergraduate, face-to-face), and Environmental Statistics (graduate, face-to-face). I regularly engage in pedagogical training, and I am certified in online instruction through the Quality Matters program.