Hey there! Welcome to my faculty webpage. Here you’ll get to know me as a professor by perusing the site to find information on the research I’ve done as well as information on current projects and classes I teach. In addition you’ll find helpful links to relevant information and videos.
Plants, plants, and more plants.
I teach both field botany and horticulture. In field botany a small group of students and I survey the various plant communities around the state creating both physical herbarium collections as well as virtual ones in iNaturalist. In horticulture, students investigate modern perspectives on gardening and learn principles that allow them to design an ecologically productive one themselves.
Field Ecology – in the field and in the lab:
I teach field ecology and coordinate the ecology labs. Field ecology’s main goal is to provide students with an understanding of their local ecosystem using modern sampling methods. Wildlife biologists, zoologists, conservation biologists, ecologists, botanists, dendrologists, marine biologists, agronomists, entomologists, ornithologists, biological science technicians, park rangers, veterinarians and even curators of natural science museums often develop their first practical field skill set in field ecology and ecology lab. Due to this it is often an extremely exciting and challenging experience. I do my best to pique student interest and provide them with the skill set necessary to begin one of many career options in the world of natural sciences.
Interactive learning and science education:
My passion is teaching science through interactive learning. I teach biology to both majors and non-majors and aim to integrate both creativity and practicality. I write songs and poems about class material to entice and enhance interest. I also integrate “Practical Biology” and “Wildwood Wisdom” sections to inform students of the application of concepts they are learning in class. I strive to make learning as interactive as possible by creating a multitude of in-class activities and facilitating continuing group work. I use as many tools as possible including eLearning suites such as Canvas and SymBio as well as in class transmission software such as Poll Everywhere to further improve interaction among students.
Arbor 49er was created to optimize student interaction with their local ecosystem while simultaneously enhancing the skill set of ecology students. Many universities have representative tree species labeled throughout campus and are even nationally recognized arboretums. In an effort to put “UNCC’s trees on the map” so to speak I created the initiative termed Arbor 49er. 49 representative tree species on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte were selected by myself and students in my Fall 2012 Ecology Lab. Pictures of the species were taken and exported to the appropriate cartographic locations in Google Earth. Demographic data were gathered on the trees and descriptions were written for each tree species. Thus, an interactive map was created. For more information on the evolution and collaboration of this project click the Arbor 49er tab above. Downloadable Google Earth files can be assessed via the Arbor 49er tab in either fully descriptive or mystery tree hunt form as well. A hard copy brochure is available and permanent brass signs are now in place!
Piedmont Diving Rescue Association:
As the Environmental Quality Research Officer for the North Carolina Piedmont Diving Association (PDRA), I monitor water quality and overall ecological health of a number of local quarries. These quarries are used for both recreational and rescue dive training. They are also a unique learning environment as they provide an opportunity for students to conduct studies outside of the campus ecological reserve.Together with the PDRA my students and I aim to maintain the health of these quarries semester after semester.
Wild Bermuda Bean (Phaseolus lignosus)
With only about two dozen mature individuals on the planet, the Bermuda bean is probably the rarest pea family plant on the planet. Together with help from Alison Copeland from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources and the government of Bermuda I procured the necessary importation documents to begin Ex situ conservation of this plant. Dr. Bao-Hua Song‘s lab is currently working to resolve it’s phylogeny and further investigate this rare plants genome.
“Who cooks for you! Who cooks for you too!” goes the often phrased Barred Owl call. The first research I conducted was alongside Dr. Richard Bierregaard and involved studying the local Barred Owl (Strix varia) population in its suburban habitat. The focus of this study was South Charlotte. I built traps, radio tagged, and then telemetry tracked the owls at night. Pretty scary, huh? These locations were then registered in Google Earth for later use in demographic study. We built owl boxes to encourage nesting and installed nest cams to monitor prey delivery as well. You wouldn’t believe what Barred Owls eat! For more information on this awesome study click the Barred Owl tab above.
To us, the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is quite harmless. However, believe it or not, among amphibians they’re tough guys and dangerous predators. They’ve been known to eat small birds and even each other! For my graduate studies, with Dr. Sue Peters, I investigated the role of testosterone on the musculature involved in grappling and amplexus (bullfrogs mating embrace).
In a world with increasing pollution, natural waterways are easily susceptible to destruction. Amphibians are classic indicators of ecological health and relevant research conducted in relation to their evolutionary adaptations is invaluable for their conservation. To read more about bullfrogs and this study click the American Bullfrogs tab above.