Van Es 131
701 231 9779
Courses I Teach
- MICR 452/652, Microbial Ecology
- MICR 354, Scientific Writing
- MICR 202L, Introductory Microbiology Lab
My Teaching Philosophy
Somewhere along the course of my studies and work as a writer and lecturer, I developed something of a hybrid, two-pronged teaching/learning philosophy. The first part stems from something I read once about the French screenwriter, playwright, and teacher, Marcel Achard. He was quoted as saying, “When I give a lecture, I accept that people look at their watches, but what I do not tolerate is when they look at it and raise it to their ear to find out if it stopped.” I guess I’ve taken this to heart; if students turn zombie-like at some point during one of my lectures, I know I haven’t spent enough time preparing an hour that fosters engaged learning, critical-thinking, and collaboration. The second part of my teaching philosophy grew from the idea that learning is best done by doing. This involves hands-on lab work and case-study discussion in microbiology. I approach my writing classes in a similar way. When it comes to writing, reading the work of great writers and trying to figure out how they make it work is part of the process. The harder part, however, is applying that knowledge to a student's own writing style. This takes time and effort, so I guess this part of my philosophy is simply write, write, write…
My Path to VMS
I'm a Minnesota native with graduate degrees in Bacteriology (from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; emphasis in Microbial Ecology) and Science and Environmental Reporting (from New York University). I lived in New York City and Washington D.C. for a few years, working as a writer for magazines, including Audubon and the journal Nature. Although I love the energy of the East Coast, the pace is somewhat relentless, so I returned to the Upper Midwest to work as a freelance writer. A couple of years ago, I was asked to develop a graduate workshop in scientific writing, which evolved into my current position as a senior lecturer in VMS. I also serve as a disciplinary writing consultant at the Center for Writers.
Organizations and Committees
- CAFSNR Scholarship Committee
- VMS Website Committee
- VMS Graduate Program Committee
My literary interests include creative nonfiction, nature writing, and health writing. Lately, I've been writing mostly about renewable energy, conservation, and environmental policy. I also write middle-grade fiction in collaboration with my dad. My interests outside teaching and writing include swimming, hiking, music (performing, writing, listening), and photography.