Teaching

Protea nitida young shoot

Philosophy

 

My teaching philosophy can be summed up in a phrase coined by my doctoral advisor: “Ask the organism.” I believe that when plants “speak” for themselves, anyone can find them fascinating. I emphasize why I think the material I am making available to students is important.

 

Lady slipper orchid

Format

 

I teach integrated/lecture lab courses to generally less than 24 students.  I present background in short mini-lectures, and then students look at the plants I just talked about. I encourage everyone to work with each other to pose and answer questions, etc. I apply the same “Ask the Organism” philosophy to assessments: short essay exams are based on living or prepared plants and require students to use what they have learned to interpret some aspect of the plant in question.

 

cross section of weathered desert tree

EEB 3203/5203 Developmental Plant Morphology

This course explores the development of the plant body from a morphological perspective. We use fundamental principles of plant construction and differential growth to explore the wide diversity in leaves, stems, roots and shoots specialized for reproduction. We base this exploration of plant form on hundreds of living plants in the EEB Biodiversity Living Plant Collection.

EEB 4276 Plant Structural Diversity

This course explores internal structure of plants from a functional perspective.  We combine microscope studies of plant anatomy with ecophysiology to examine how variation in the cellular configurations leaves, stems and roots reflects various adaptations to living on land. We approach increasing complexity from a phylogenetic and developmental perspective, building the plant body from embryos through flowers.

Writing intensive instruction

I also teach in the writing intensive courses EEB 2244W and EEB 2245W when I am not teaching the courses above.