Teaching History – Programs and Descriptions

Programs and courses ordered from most recent to oldest

(Course-equivalent credits awarded as lead instructor are listed in parentheses)

Teaching partner – when relevant – listed in italics

Currently Teaching

Temperate Rainforest Biogeochemistry and Ecophysiology (Biogechemistry, Forest Ecology, Soil Science, Ecophysiology)

Temperate rainforests are poorly understood and highly valued ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest and other coastal landscapes around the world. This type of ecosystem supports complex interactions among constituents of the atmosphere, the forest, and the underlying geology. By focusing on the biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling of the forest, we explore the interplay between the biotic and abiotic components of these ecosystems. We examine the pools and fluxes of organic and inorganic nutrients as well as the processes that link them. We examine forest ecosystem science in temperate rainforests worldwide, while lectures and field labs emphasize the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier National Park. Students gain field experience with long-term studies, and acquire experience with various sampling techniques that are used measure nitrogen, water, and carbon in forested ecosystems in lab exercises in forest biogeochemistry that will span both quarters. Students gain proficiency in laboratory techniques and instrumentation methods for measurement of carbon, nitrogen, and water flux. Weekly seminars further focus on scientific articles from the primary literature. Readings and guest lectures introduce students to major ecological and biogeochemistry issues for temperate rainforests. Each student develops a scientific research proposal throughout fall quarter, and a research methods review in winter. We also visit forests to examine the impacts of anthropogenic influences on temperate rainforest ecosystems.

Plant Ecology and Physiology (Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology and Ecophysiology, Ecological Statistics). Co-taught with Dr. Lalita Calabria, Ph.D.

How do plants sense and respond to changes in their external environment? What are the chemical signals produced by plants in response to external stimuli (light, gravity, temperature) and how are these signals amplified within the larger plant community? This program focuses on these questions through the study of individual plants (autecology), the interactions among plants (synecology), and the physiological interactions of plants with their environment (ecophysiology). Students learn field and laboratory methods for studying plant community ecology and plant physiology including vegetation sampling methods, methods for measuring plant growth, photosynthesis, water-stress, and tree water-use. Lecture topics include plant communities; competition and facilitation ecology; plant growth and development; plant hormones; water use; photosynthesis; rooting; and the potential effects of large-scale disturbances, such as climate change, on plant communities. We apply what we learn about plant physiology to better understand current research in the broader fields of ecosystem and community ecology. Our readings are divided between current widely used texts in plant physiology and ecology, historical papers of great importance, and current research papers from technical journals. Local day trips, workshops, labs, and a multi-week field trip allow us to observe field research on plant physiology, plant restoration, and the plant ecology of diverse environments, as well as conduct student-driven research on plant ecology and physiology. This is also a writing intensive program for technical science writing. Communication skills are emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences.

Statistics I (Descriptive Statistics through one-way ANOVA). Co-taught with Dr. Carri LeRoy, Ph.D.

This course is an introduction to statistics for students with limited if any formal exposure to data and data analysis, and no experience with statistics. This class introduces the student to the statistical process, including data collection, ways of organizing data, an introduction to data analysis, and an opportunity to learn how practitioners present their findings. We examine case studies, explore how data is used in explaining unusual events, and develop a more critical understanding about how statistics allows us  to understand the world around us.The curriculum for this class in delivered online through the college’s on-line system, Canvas. The class includes both synchronous instruction (using Zoom) as well as off-line assigned work. All class computer labs are written for, and taught, using Excel.

Statistics II (Parametric and non-parametric approaches in multifactor statistics). Co-taught with Dr. Carri LeRoy, Ph.D.

This class builds on foundational concepts presented in Statistics I to provide a deeper survey of statistical concepts, theories, and practical applications for students who have already mastered descriptive statistics, basic hypothesis testing, and simple linear regression. In this class we learn to use analysis of variance (ANOVA), multiple-factor ANOVA, multiple regression, multivariate analyses, and meta-analysis methods. The class finishes with an introduction to non-parametric and multivariate statistics. In addition, the students consider journal articles and research concepts, and prepare a small presentation using the concepts from the class. This class is conducted online, using asynchronous lectures and quizzes, but with synchronous computer labs and discussions in Zoom.

Undergraduate Research (Research Design, Applied Statistics, Advanced Research)

Rigorous quantitative and qualitative research is an important component of academic learning in Environmental Studies. This independent learning opportunity is designed to allow advanced students to delve into real-world research with faculty who are currently engaged in specific projects. The program helps students develop vital skills in research design, data acquisition and interpretation, written and oral communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills—all of which are of particular value for students who are pursuing a graduate degree, as well as for graduates who are already in the job market. Students in this program work closely with ongoing research in the Fischer Plant Community and Ecosystem Ecology Lab, participate in weekly lab meetings, and develop their own research projects.

Forests (Forest Measurements, Forest Ecology, GIS). Co-taught with Dr. Lalita Calabria, Ph.D.

Forests are fundamentally important biomes for planet earth. In this upper division science program, we study the ecology and environmental history of Pacific Northwest forests. Students learn: quantitative approaches and tools in forest measurements; foundational concepts in forest ecology and interactions among forest organisms; major biomes, and community types in forests of the northwest; field methods for assessing biodiversity of plants (including bryophytes) and lichens, along with developing laboratory skills for identifying bryophytes and lichens using microscopes and dichotomous keys. We also hold a weekly seminar on texts that address human interactions with forests, and especially in the Northwest. The texts cover forest ecology concepts, forest science and forest genetics, environmental history of Pacific Northwest forests, and global issues in forest management and conservation. This program also includes weekly field days where we will use local forests to refine skills in measuring forests and detect change using long-term data in forest ecosystems. Finally, a series of labs in the use of GIS in forest sciences surveys current use of remote sensing in forest ecology and teaches students basic skills for navigating and interpreting GIS data in forest ecology. Scientific writing, quantitative skills, work with common computer software, field skills, and presentation/communication skills are all emphasized.

Previously taught (past five years): 

Field Ecology (Research Design, Ecological Statistics, Applied Ecological Field Studies). Co-taught with Dr. Alison Styring, Ph.D.

This program focuses on intensive group and individual field research on current topics in ecological science. These topics include forest structure, ecosystem ecology, effects of forest management, ecological restoration, riparian ecology, fire history, bird abundance and monitoring, insect-plant interactions, and disturbance ecology. Students are expected to intensively use the primary literature and student-driven field research to address observations about ecological composition, structure, and function. Multiple independent and group research projects form the core of our work in local forests of the South Puget Sound lowlands, national forests, national parks, state forests, and other relevant natural settings. Through a series of short, intensive field exercises, students hone their skills in observation, developing testable hypotheses, and designing ways to test those hypotheses. We also explore field techniques and approaches in ecology, and especially approaches related to measuring plant and avian biodiversity. Students have the option to participate in field trips to remote sites in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Past research sites have ranged from the North Cascades (WA) to the Southwest (including The Grand Canyon and locations in the Sonoran Desert).  Research projects are formally presented by groups and individuals at the end of the quarter. Finally, student research manuscripts are created throughout the quarter, utilizing a series of intensive multi-day paper-writing workshops. We emphasize identification of original field research problems in forest habitats, experimentation, data analyses, oral presentation of findings, and writing in scientific journal format.

Alaska Wrangell Mountains Summer Field Studies (Applied Field Studies, Introduction to Plant Ecology). Co-taught with Dr. Ken Tabbutt, Ph.D., Dr. Peter Impara, Ph.D., and Molly McDermott, M.S.

This interdisciplinary expedition in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains explores geophysical, biological and cultural change in a rapidly evolving setting situated in the United States’ largest national park. With glaciers flowing from 16,000-foot peaks, canyons deeper than Yosemite, and spruce-forested valleys, the Wrangell-St. Elias study area is in the middle of the world’s largest international complex of protected wilderness lands. Glaciation, volcanism, erosion and ecological succession are exposed and active, making Wrangell-St. Elias an ideal natural laboratory in which to explore Alaska’s landscape of extremes. In one and three-week backpacking trips in rugged Alaskan wilderness, including camping and hiking on glaciers, students investigate the politics of Alaska’s protected lands and inquire into personal roles in wild lands preservation and conservation. This program considers geologic time and geomorphic process questions such as, “How did the Wrangell Mountains form and what is the history of the glaciers they support?” Hiking up from the valley floor, we ask questions such as, “What are the successional changes in fluctuating glacier-edge environments?” “What are the ecological characteristics of unique alpine habitat where Dall sheep, brown bear, and mountain goat overlap?” Quantitative methods will be used to assess botanical diversity. Throughout the program we also study adaptations of species to the stresses of sub-arctic existence and see first-hand the effects of climate change on the landscape. Following in the footsteps of Darwin and Linnaeus we will keep a daily natural history field journal, writing and drawing our observations for a permanent personal record of our time in the Wrangells. The first part of the summer is quite structured, with lectures, workshops and field exercises providing a foundation in local geology, ecology, culture and policy. Starting in Week 2, students develop skills in backcountry backpacking and camping in Alaskan wilderness. The second half of the summer centers on field work in small, applied group projects. During a three-week backcountry expedition with two re-supplies, students focus intensively on data collection and research. The results of this field work are synthesized during the last week of the summer, culminating with oral and written project presentations to our group, and local people interested in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.

Deserts (Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, GIS, Natural History of Desert Plants). Co-taught with Dr. Clarissa Dirks, Ph.D.

Deserts reflect a diversity of habitats that can occur along with dramatic temperature and moisture gradients. Major advances in ecology have been made in these extreme environments, and important work in global change biology is currently being conducted in these ecosystems. This program uses desert biomes as a central pivot for investigating patterns in ecology, biology, microbiology and evolution. Students learn about arid environments, environmental issues related to water use and regulation, plant ecology, field biology, microbiology and biology of organisms adapted to these extreme environments from cacti to kangaroo rats, to snails and tardigrades (water-bears). We pair hands-on scientific exploration in deserts (primarily the southwestern US) with detailed study of conservation, natural resources, and ecosystem response to climate change impacts. Students learn to conduct detailed laboratory analyses so that they can apply these methods in new investigations in field sites. We travel to remote field sites in the Southwest to apply these techniques to questions about organisms in southwestern ecosystems. All students participate in a mandatory two-week field ecology module where they engage in major research projects on diversity and ecology of deserts, riparian forest ecology, and biodiversity of cryptic organisms. During the trips, students learn to identify plant species and conduct field science experiments. We visit environmentally significant sites, including cactus forests, canyons, wetlands, mountains, and water diversion projects. Students use research conducted on these trips as the foundation for writing research papers as a culminating experience of the program. Students receive specialized training in scientific writing, presentation, statistical analysis of data and techniques in laboratory and field biology. Finally, weekly seminars focus on texts that are central to understanding environmental dilemmas in arid regions.

Forests and Farms: The Systems that Sustain Us (Forest Ecology, Forest Measurements, Environmental Studies). Co-taught with Dr. Steve Scheuerell, Ph.D.

Learn to get your hands dirty in two globally important types of landscapes: forests and farms. We use a systems thinking approach to explore environmental issues related to both landscapes, such as climate change and carbon sequestration. We split our focus between an introduction to forests and forest measurements in the Pacific Northwest and an introduction to agricultural systems and ecological agriculture. Management of forests and farms are of central importance in global carbon budgets, and we will explore how both play a role in climate change. We learn about the many stakeholders throughout society who are involved in forestry and farming issues and how science can inform policy and management decisions. Students gain an introduction to basic nutrient cycling and soils concepts that are foundational to both ecological forestry and agriculture systems. We learn the basic tools and techniques needed to account for forest and farm carbon and students learn how to build basic carbon budgets based on forest and soil measurements. For the forestry component, students learn to do basic forest measurements, inventory carbon sequestration in forests, understand ecological succession, and identify common trees. Students learn how to use basic trigonometry and algebraic approaches to measuring forest dimensions and tree carbon storage. Weekly field labs give students hands-on experience working with our local forests in Evergreen’s forest reserve. In the agricultural component, students learn basic agronomic principles, including the structure and function of annual and perennial crop plants; and how plants respond to water, nutrients, light, and heat. Using field trips and case studies, a variety of agricultural systems will be introduced, and students learn how management practices impact climate change via energy-use efficiency and the carbon sequestration potential of soils and crops. Ecological agroforestry systems will be emphasized to show how perennial crops can be utilized to optimize carbon uptake, efficiently utilize inputs, conserve soil, and maintain food production. Both sections of the program are integrated in weekly labs where students learn the basics of spreadsheet use to compile forest, soil, and farm data. Using data students collect themselves, we build and explore carbon budgets in both forests and farms, and then apply data to our understanding of local eco- and agro-systems.

WSDOT Wetland Monitoring Internships (Applied Internship Experience in Wetland Science)

In this program Student complete a Wetlands Ecology and Monitoring Techniques internship with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and are sponsored by a single faculty at The Evergreen State College.  As a participant in this program, the gain hands-on experience collecting environmental data from WSDOT wetland mitigation sites.  Over the eleven-week course, they learn to use a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques to conduct environmental monitoring.  Fieldwork includes conducting surveys of vegetation, hydrology and wildlife.  Students are also introduced to soil morphology, and the birds of Washington State. The greatest percentage of the internship is devoted to learning vegetation sampling, collection, and identification techniques.  Students use basic elements of sampling design to create and implement vegetation-monitoring strategies on several WSDOT wetland mitigation sites.  They learn to test these sampling designs using pilot sampling data and sample size analysis.  At each site, students learn to locate sampling macroplots, quadrats, and transect lines using a basic set of monitoring field equipment including site maps, transect flags, meter tapes, compasses, and a table of random numbers.  Vegetative aerial cover, density, and survival estimates are routinely measured using a variety of plant monitoring techniques including the line intercept, point-intercept, belt transect, and quadrat methods.  Participants learn to use characteristics of the vegetative community and site-specific monitoring objectives to determine the most appropriate sampling methods for each field activity.  In addition, they use WSDOT protocol when collecting samples of plant species that they were unable to identify in the field.  These collected species are later identified in the laboratory using a dissecting scope and technical plant key. On a regular basis, students also have the opportunity to participate in a graduate-level seminar on peer reviewer research in plant ecology, mitigation, and restoration science. Students who complete the seminar series demonstrate significant depth in their ability to link their practice of mitigation site monitoring to the theoretical issues in plant science, mitigation strategy, and restoration ecology. Finally, students are required to complete an independent analysis and presentation of the history and vegetative change associated with an assigned long-term monitoring site. Students give public presentations of this work, and have to field questions from an engaged public audience.

Trees and Native People (Dendrology, Introduction to Botany, Introduction to Ecology and Natural History). Co-taught with Dr. Frances V. Rains, Ph.D.

In this program, we closely examine the natural history and diversity of trees as well as how Native Peoples have interacted with trees and forest communities. We address questions such as how do trees work? How do we identify different species in our region? How old are trees? How did Native Peoples maintain forests? How did these forests change with colonization? How have different types of forests affected the cultures and lifestyles of Native Peoples in different regions? We used a multidisciplinary approach to our studies in order to understand tree form and function and Native relationships with trees as distinct subjects. Students learn about basic botany, dendrology, history, tree identification, geography, Native studies, and ecology. Inherent in our work was the recognition that historic relationships between Native Peoples and trees requires a deeper understanding of Native existence on the North American landmass for over ten thousand years, as well as the impact and consequences of five hundred years of colonization. Understanding the history of trees, and tree function, requires acknowledging deep time that goes back even further in natural history and evolution. Accordingly, our studies are divided between a focus on natural history of trees (especially trees of The Northwest), a broad history of Native/forest relationships across time and geography, and the ways colonization affected the forest ecosystems upon which many Native Nations had depended upon for thousands of years. Students are challenged to reconcile popular beliefs about the roles of trees with deeper hands-on observations. We use seminars, lectures, day trips, workshops, labs, and an overnight field trip to explore the subject matter in the program. Students travel in field trips through the forest lands of the Quinault Reservation, local forests, National Parks, and arboretums. They are exposed to the diversity of trees in The Northwest, as well as trees from around the world planted in our region. Students have exams, essays, labs and final projects as a means for evaluating learning about trees. Students also read texts by Native authors, watched Native films, interact with guest speakers, visit tribal museums, and attend a two-day indigenous climate justice symposium. Learning in this arena iss assessed with regular seminar papers, essays, seminar commentary, and a final synthesis paper. Texts used in the program include Trees: Their Natural History (2nd ed.) by Thomas, Northwest Trees by Arno, The Sibley Guide to Trees, by Sibley, American Indians and National Forests by Catton, Living on the Edge by George, and Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are by Wray.

Introduction to Environmental Studies: Land (Forest Methods, Measurements, and Ecology, Introductory Research in Environmental Studies). Co-taught with Dr. Shangrila Wynn, Ph.D.

This program is an interdisciplinary introduction to the field of Environmental Studies designed for freshmen and sophomores. Using the connection between forests and climate change as a central theme, it explores the complexities of environmental issues in terrestrial environments, demonstrating how social phenomena and natural environments are intertwined. For the social science component, we explore various theories about the environment-society relationship, including those that focus on population growth, economic growth, the commons, environmental justice, and political economy. Students apply this learning to understand environment-society dynamics pertaining to forests and climate change. For the natural science component, students learn about climate change and forest ecology, basic forest measurement methods, carbon sequestration in forests, and plant identification in the Pacific Northwest. Students acquire hands-on experience working with data collection in forests in the region. Students then learn about how these measurements are related to global carbon budgets and climate change. Student learning is facilitated by a combination of weekly lectures in environmental social science and forest ecology, data analysis labs, documentary films, seminars, weekly field labs, and a 3-day field trip to various locations in the Olympic Peninsula. Required course texts include Forest measurements, 2015, by Thomas Eugene Avery, Harold E. Burkhart; Environment and Society, 2013, by Paul Robbins, John Hintz, and Sarah A. Moore; The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, 2010, by Timothy Egan; The Final Forest: Big Trees, Forks, and the Pacific Northwest, 2010, by William Dietrich; and additional readings are from peer reviewed journals, magazines, and newspapers. Assessment of student learning is made based on attendance and participation in required program activities, as well as evaluation of student work in lab and workshop assignments, quizzes, essays, and a final research project entailing group work and oral presentation.

Trees (Dendrology, Introduction to Botany, Introduction to Ecology and Natural History)

How do trees, and forest communities, function? What makes them tick? What determines the tallest trees in the world? What makes trees some of the oldest organisms on earth? These and many other questions about trees have captivated humans since the dawn of time. In this program will closely examine trees in their variety of form and function. We use our studies to learn how understanding of tree form and function integrates study of botany, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography and ecology. Our studies are divided between those that focus on individual trees, forests and whole forests. We also read classic and recent texts about human interactions with trees and how our relationships to trees still help shape our collective identities and cultures. Students learn how to read and interpret recent scientific studies from peer-reviewed journals and be challenged to reconcile popular belief about the roles of trees with scientific observations. Day trips, workshops, labs and a multiple-day field trip allow us to observe some of the largest trees on the West Coast and observe and measure trees in extreme environments. Communication skills are emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences. We also practice skills for communicating to a broader public using nonfiction and technical writing.

Teaching History – Programs Taught 2005 to 2014 (course credits awarded in parentheses)

  • Temperate Rainforests (Forest Ecosystem Science, Laboratory and Field Studies of Pacific Northwest Forests, Independent Research in Forest Ecology)

  • Temperate Rainforests: Ecology, Chemistry and Management (Biogeochemistry, Scientific Writing, Forest Ecology, Plant Physiology and Ecology, Silviculture and Forest Management, Field Methods in Forestry, GIS)

  • Temperate Rainforests: Genetics and Biogeochemistry (Forest Ecosystem Ecology, Applied Ecological Statistics, Scientific Writing, Communication, and Research)

  • Water in the West: Ecology and History (General Ecology 1: Organisms and their Environments, General Ecology 2: Ecosystem Ecology and Primary Producers, Field Ecology, History of Western Rivers, Expository and Scientific Writing, Introduction to Forest Measurements, GIS)

  • Sustainable Forestry (Sustainable Forestry, Woody Plant Physiology and Ecology, Forest Carbon Science, Silviculture, Applied Geographic Information Systems – GIS)

  • Field Ecology: Forests (Statistics, Field Ecology, Scientific writing, Scientific Methods in Ecology)

  • Plant Ecology Afield (Plant Taxonomy, Research in Plant Ecology, Plant Ecology, Scientific Writing and Presentation, Statistics)

  • Genes to Ecosystems (General Ecology with Statistics Laboratory, Seminar in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Genetics)

  • Advanced Field and Laboratory Biology in Southwestern Ecosystems (Topics in Ecosystem Ecology, Plant Physiology and Ecology, Statistics, Arid Ecosystems Research, Research and Field Biology, Scientific Writing)

  • Field and Laboratory Biology in Southwestern Ecosystems (Biology of Southwestern Ecosystems, Applied Field Ecology)

  • Educating on the Wild Side (Environmental Leadership and Education, Environmental Studies Seminar, Introduction to Ecology)

  • Olympic Peninsula (Ecology, Topics in Forest Ecology, Physical Environments of the Olympic Peninsula, Independent Research in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainability)

  • Writing on the Wild Side (Technical Writing, Studies in Field Ecology)

  • Introduction to Environmental Studies: Water, Energy, and Forest Ecosystems (Introduction to Global Change, Forest Ecosystems, Introduction to Field Studies in Forest Ecology, Environmental Studies)

  • Introduction to Environmental Studies: National Parks (Natural History, General Ecology, Readings in Environmental Studies, Landscape Ecology and GIS, Applied Ecology, Research in Environmental Studies)