Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, Providence, RI

Classes –Foundations of Biodiversity, Biology of Reproduction, Environmental Health, Environmental Studies

Research Interests

Small Mammals in Mosaics of Restored and Remnant Prairies
Restoring and reconstructing prairies has become increasingly common and currently a mosaic of small remnant and large restored prairie patches now coexist around Northfield, Minnesota. We study the effects of this changing landscape on populations of small prairie mammals. Despite their size, small mammals strongly affect prairie plant communities. Understanding their role in disappearing Midwestern prairies is important since they are currently persisting in a landscape fragmented by agriculture, without large herbivores such as bison and with a very different predator community. We live trap to compare capture rates across years and locations and collect fur samples to examine the stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) to provide a broad snapshot of vole and mice diets in prairies.

Metacognition and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Prompted by involvement in the ACM (Acredited Colleges of the Midwest) Teagle Metacognition group, I am involved in ongoing research exploring the role of metacognition in teaching and learning. I am 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.

Wetlands Elementary Environmental Education
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 funding for science and environmental education programs was declining. 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 the academic topics they experience in their classrooms and labs.