I teach as a guest instructor in college & universities, biological field stations, museums, and other settings. I can teach classes at your institution for a single session or a series of sessions. Contact me for more information. Classes include:
Art-science for Innovative Science Communication
Effective science communication is urgent — now more than ever. It doesn’t work to keep piling on more facts. Especially with regard to climate change, growing numbers of the public are resistant, or even hostile, to science. What is needed is an ability to find the core message, connect to audiences with compassion, and use humor, creativity, awe. For this task, the tools of the artist work best. It’s important for artists to get the message right, which means translating effectively between the realms of art and science. In this class, I teach science communicators to open up to their innate creativity, and teach artists to approach science with careful thinking. I share examples of the growing body of innovative, exciting art that communicates science, and can guide student art-science projects.
Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research
Some research questions require mountains of data — for example, changes in seasonality as the climate warms, patterns of bird migration, and stream monitoring over time. Citizen science, or more accurately public participation in science research, is a growing area engaging non-scientists to help collect large amounts of data. Participants may collect a little or a lot, help analyze, and even design projects. For students, these projects are great tools for science learning. In this class, I teach some of the best citizen science projects for learning ecology and environmental biology and responses of our planet to climate change. I can help you incorporate citizen science into your syllabus, provide peer-reviewed literature, and guide student projects.
Nature Journaling Old and New: Drawing, Photography, iNaturalist
Noting observations about natural history is one of the oldest human activities. The oldest recognizable forms in paintings depicted four-footed mammals, painted on caves in Lascaux about 20,000 years ago. Over time, we have drawn and painted nature journals to keep track of edible and medicinal plants, to understand the flora and fauna of far away places, and to study microscopic structures. Today, keeping a nature journal helps us to slow down and pay better attention in world that scatters our focus. I teach nature journaling old and new, and can help you incorporate nature journaling in your biology or environmental science courses. Traditional methods include drawing and painting in several media, effective note taking, and paying attention to scale — from landscape and topography view to tiny and microscopic. Then I tie in to the present day using the iNaturalist app, and can coach you and your students in creating projects on that platform.
Drawing to See: Scientific illustration for Biology Observation
Students who draw organisms and their structures see them better. Spending slow, meditative time looking carefully at details helps us become better observers. We notice structures, which lead to questions of structure-function relationships, which lead to questions about how this organism relates to other organisms, how it relates to its environment, and how it has evolved. Using graphite pencil, pen, color pencil, and watercolor, I teach the careful, accurate depiction of biological forms. I coach students in their projects and can help you evaluate their work.