Current Research Projects
Marine Invertebrate Paleoecology
My paleontology research falls broadly under the umbrella of field-based marine invertebrate paleoecology. I have worked on the environmental context of early Paleozoic gastropods from the Great Basin, and still have research interests in this region and in the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE). Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I've started work on ice sheet associated bivalve communities and microfossils preserved in Late Pleistocene glaciolomarine sediments in western Washington state. I'm interested in the biostratigraphic applications of these assemblages in regards to ice sheet migration and isostatic rebound. These paleocommunities can also inform us about ecosystem response to climate change, and may provide insight into modern Salish Sea ecosystems.
Geoscience Education Research
As part of the Science, Math and Technology Education (SMATE) group at WWU, I do a lot of work with pre-service K12 teachers. I am interested in how to best prepare teachers to teach Earth and Space Science (ESS) in K12 classrooms, and how to recruit and train a teacher workforce that reflects the diversity of K12 students in Washington State and in the United States more broadly.
I am also part of an NSF-funded geoscience education research project at UC Riverside, The GEODE Project. This project includes several programs that are designed the engage high school, community college and university students from underrepresented minority groups in geoscience learning. This project examines critical educational transitions that students must pass through on their way to a geoscience bachelor's degree, such as moving from high school to college or transferring from a two year college to university. It includes a "field camp" for high school students, research internships at UCR for community college students, and network building opportunities like joint field trips for students from local 2YCs and UCR.
As a paleontologist, I am deeply invested in how to teach about the history of life on Earth and in making paleontology more accessible for students. I am developing a series of student-centered learning activities for Historical Geology. I am also interested in studying how digitized fossils (photos and 3D scans) can be used in paleontology courses, with the long-term goal of developing a suite of digitized fossils that can be used as a teaching collection at institutions that do not have access to fossils.
I have been working with students at WWU to create a digital archive of our department collections. This includes creating a searchable online database of specimens that includes detailed descriptions, photos and 3D scans. Our goal in this project is to make the collections more accessible to anyone who wants to explore them, from WWU students to K12 teachers and students, and members of the wider Bellingham community. The fossil is an example of our work on this project.