My goal as a professor is to find the context that stimulates students to develop a passion for the natural world.
As a forest ecologist I ask what if as a means to unravel the dynamic nature of forested ecosystems. My research in ever-wet tropical ecosystems and mountain ecosystems of the northeast attempts to answer the ‘what if’ questions.
What if a hurricane of the intensity of the 1938 hurricane hits the forests of New England again? What if the Hemlock wooly adelgid recently discovered in 2007 in Rockland VT infests the hemlock dominated Pisgah State Park? What if our changing climate causes all the red spruce on Mt. Monadnock die?
It is through my research in forest ecology that I incorporate practical field skills and applied research into the classroom. This applied nature is critical to successful learning and the development of professional skills in my graduate students.
Concepts are more easily understood and interesting to students when taught in a realistic context. I draw on my 30 years of experience in temperate and tropical forest ecology to develop that context for my students. Classroom lessons complemented by field experience (i.e., field trips) and visible practical applications (i.e., outdoor lab exercises) of the subjects taught enable students to put their education into practice.