Teaching Philosophy

In both upbringing and formal education, I am the product of Liberal Arts thinking and instruction, and I bring this perspective to my teaching. In all of my teaching, I seek to rigorously teach the scientific fundamentals as well as add complexity and nuance to my students’ understanding of the world. I seek to accomplish this both within the strict scientific discipline (sedimentology, tectonics, etc.) and also in regard to human, social, and economic realms. I believe that this applied scientific approach best enables students to leverage their knowledge in whatever path they choose and provides them with the best preparation to take on the challenges of the future.

I always integrate my own research into my teaching. I believe that one common shortcoming in science education is that it depicts scientific inquiry as a straightforward and logical pursuit of problems with clear answers and simple interpretations. Left out of this picture is the reality that truth in the natural world is incredibly elusive. The knowledge necessary for the simple cartoon of a subduction zone in the geology textbook took many decades to gather and interpret; the easily interpreted pattern on the geologic map is not at all obvious when actually hiking over that terrain. Science is hard, and the natural world still harbors vast unknowns. Learning about and conducting research helps students approach problems critically and creatively and encourages them to challenge existing ideas. Also, it enables students to engage the idea that there remain immense gaps in our understanding of the natural world, and that there is still no clear understanding of many of the processes that shape the earth’s physical landscape.

 

Classes

Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
This class is one of my primary teaching interests, and I teach it every spring semester at NMT. Objectives for this course are that students leave the course able to (1) describe and predict how a given depositional environment will be preserved in the rock record, and (2) reconstruct depositional environment and provenance from sedimentary outcrops. Topics include the basic physics of sediment transport and weathering; depositional processes; alluvial, fluvial, deltaic, shallow marine, lacustrine, and turbidite depositional systems; sequence stratigraphy; and rudimentary basin geodynamics. Because of spectacular outcrops surrounding Socorro, NM, the lab involved seven in class field trips covering late Paleozoic to Quaternary time.

Orogenic Systems (co-instructor, NAU)
During spring 2016, I co-instructed a graduate seminar on Orogenic Systems. This first half of this class focused on the fundamental tectonic processes that drive orogenesis worldwide and the geological tools and techniques used to reconstruct orogenic history. The second half of the class focused on global orogens including the North and South American Cordillera, the Tethyan system, and the Himalayan orogen. The second portion of the class also focused on more general orogenic topics such as downwelling, delamination, and orogenic cyclicity and their role in shaping mountain belts. 

Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (Teaching Assistant, UA)
While at the University of Arizona, I served as teaching assistant during four semesters of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. In this role, I taught labs, lectured periodically, organized and led field trips to southern Arizona and southern California, and helped with course development. 

Field Mapping (Teaching Assistant, UA)
During the spring of 2015, I had the privilege of assisting George Davis with his field mapping class. This was designed as a capstone and fieldcamp prep class for seniors and juniors within the major. Over the course of the semester, we spent 11 field days mapping Catalina/Rincon Core Complex structures and related sediments surrounding Tucson, AZ. 

Physical Geology (Teaching Assistant, UA)
I taught labs and organized and led field trips for 3 semesters of introductory geology at the University of Arizona. 

General Education (Teaching Assistant, UA)
While at the University of Arizona, I assisted with A Geologic Perspective and Oceanography. Both of these were large (400 and 800 students, respectively), general education classes for first and second year undergraduates. These classes provided me with experience and knowledge of how to approach general education classes and how to manage a class of up to 800 students. 

 

Other Courses

In addition to the classes listed above, I am interested in teaching classes on Basin Analysis, Advanced SedimentologyTectonics, The Geology of Energy, and Scientific and Geographic Exploration.