Dr. Diane Angell
Assistant Professor in Biology
Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, Providence, RI
E-mail - email@example.com
Phone - 507-786-3101
Office - Regents Hall 434
Classes - Evolution and Diversity, Principles of Ecology, Environmental Studies, Conservation Biology, Environmental Health, Zoo Biology
Research Interests - small rodents in mosaics of restored and remnant prairies
Restoring and reconstructing prairies has become increasingly popular and currently a mosaic of small remnant and large restored prairie patches now coexist around Northfield, Minnensota. For the past several years we have been studying the effects of this changing landscape on small prairie rodents. In particular, we considered whether prairie rodents found on remnants had colonized restored prairies, but also whether the species composition in restored versus remnant prairies and on the distribution of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), a species of "special concern" in Minnesota. Rodents were trapped in 10 prairies of various sizes in southern Minnesota over three summers. Each of the four species we focused on was found in a subset of restored prairies, prairie deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii) were more often found in remnant prairies. Moderately high numbers of western harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis) were found in the area, suggesting that the range and abundance of this species has increased. Although once common in Minnesota, prairie voles were found in small numbers. These results show that the elimination and reconstruction of Minnesota's prairies has changed small rodent communities in this part of the state. Differences in species composition between remnant and restored prairies emphasize the importance of conserving the small number of remnants that remain.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Prompted by involvement in the ACM (Acredited Colleges of the Midwest) Teagle group Heather Campbell in the St. Olaf Education Department has been working with me to explore the role of metacognition in teaching and learning. This research project has now focused on the role of metacognition in six different biology courses offered between August 2009 and May 2011. We are especially interested in students arriving at college underprepared and the role of metacognition in shaping successful college learners. The findings of this research should help us increase the success of these students in their biology courses and thus help retain students in the biology major.
Natural Lands Learning and Sharing Program
Since 2005, St. Olaf College has annually hosted nearly 200 local elementary school students to campus to learn about wetlands. Making use of St. Olaf’s 15 wetlands and 150 acres of restored prairie, the arrangement began as an idea shared among one professor, two St. Olaf student naturalists, the St. Olaf Environmental Coalition, and one enthusiastic elementary school teacher who realized that cuts in state education funding were eating away at science and environmental education programs. Individual classrooms of 2nd and 5th graders walk to campus wetlands with their teachers to spend an afternoon learning outdoors in small groups with St. Olaf students majoring in biology and environmental studies serving as volunteer educators.
The field trip provides a positive and hands on outdoor science-learning experience, at a time when encouraging interest in science is increasingly important. At the same time, many college students find that communicating environmental issues to younger students gives them a deeper understanding of academic topics they experience in their classrooms and labs.
This year the Max and Victoria Dreyfus foundation is funding this “St. Olaf Wetlands Project” in order to support two student coordinators to provide additional leadership by heading down to Greenvale classrooms before and after the field trip. Built around the goals of creating a deeper understanding of wetlands by elementary students and effective civic engagement and mentoring skills in college students, this project aims to create ongoing value as all of these students move through their lives.