|The Witman Lab @ Brown||
Why I teach
Evelyn Hutchinson referred to Ecology as “the science of the universe.” How can you not be fascinated by that ?
My motivations in teaching courses in Ecology are not only to transmit knowledge about the science, but also to build critical thinking skills and ultimately to inspire students to pursue careers in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My main teaching responsibilities include an intermediate level course, Principles of Ecology, an advanced course in Experimental Design in Ecology and graduate seminars Topics in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology . All faculty in our EEB department teach PhD and undergraduate students how to conduct research in their respective areas of expertise. For undergraduates, this collaboration culminates in a Senior thesis (Independent Study) and usually in a published paper. I am passionate about training more students to test ecological theory in the oceans.
BI 42 Principles of Ecology
Students sample tree diversity at Haffenreffer Forest.
The primary goal of the course is to develop critical thinking skills in Ecology. This is accomplished by building a knowledge base of principal theories, models and patterns from lectures and assigned readings. The discussion sections contribute toward the objective by providing a forum for critical evaluation of selected papers from the recent ecological literature. Discussion and other assigned papers are available to download on MyCourses; you can also access them via ejournals in the Brown Library. The course is designed to cover major levels of ecological organization with : Lectures 1-6 primarily focused at the Individual level, Lectures 7 - 14 are mostly at the Population level (with excursions into communities) while Lectures 15 - 21 are primarily at the Community level. Ecosystem topics are considered in Lectures 15 , 17, 18 and 21. An evolutionary approach is emphasized. Ecological theory is taught as a way to generalize beyond empirical observations. A field trip to the Haffenreffer Forest affords a first hand opportunity to collect and analyze community structure data.
BI 142 Experimental Design in Ecology
Students sample for spatial autocorrelation of milkweed.
Ecology is a discipline reliant on statistical techniques to identify patterns and to test hypotheses. The goals of this course are to 1) foster a greater understanding of the principles of experimental design in ecology. 2) inform the design of ecological experiments to allow statistical hypothesis testing, and 3) to introduce several advanced statistical methods for analyzing ecological data. This will be achieved by discussing the reading in the required course text, A primer of ecological statistics by Gotelli and Ellison (2004) and selected papers in the primary literature. Short lectures on the mechanics and assumptions of statistical methods will be provided along with computer demonstrations of recent statistics software relevant to experimental design and analysis. Problem sets are used to provide practice running statistical routines and for solving experimental design problems. A field trip is conducted at the outset of the course to sample old field plant populations for modules on power analysis and spatial autocorrelation.
BI 243, 244 Topics in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (graduate seminar)
List of seminars taught: