There are a few things that students should know before taking a class with me. I am passionate
about science, and I love teaching and interacting with students. I am lucky because the courses
that I teach stem from the types of scientific questions I am most excited about. As a professor,
I feel that providing opportunities for students to develop a first-hand perspective on how science
works is one of the most important things I can do. I always aim to challenge my students and
myself in the classroom. We do not just grind our way through a stodgy over-priced textbook,
memorizing facts. We delve into the primary literature, get our hands on the currency of science
(data sets, specimens), discuss current and controversial topics, and even write grant proposals.
I am continually honing my teaching style to meet the needs of my students, and I love to pull them
into science with the wow of how interesting and exciting the natural world can be. I enjoy fielding
unexpected questions and sparking and engaging in debate with my students.
At the end of a course,
I expect my students to depart with considerable knowledge relating to the topics we have covered,
as well as an understanding of the bigger picture. I hope my students are well versed in why
scientists ask particular questions and how they go about investigating the answers and I strive to
provide my students with the tools they need to live in a world in which science plays a crucial role
in their daily lives (and is often under attack). Students should leave my classroom with a thorough
understanding of evolution (among other things), and they should also be able to parse the real
scientific issues from the popular fodder that so pervades the media. I want my students to be able
to differentiate good science from bad, critically evaluate popular takes on scientific issues, and
communicate with scientific literacy.