My Courses


UVU_LogoI have experience teaching Principles of Biology (non-majors and majors) and General Ecology courses as instructor, as well as co-instructor, at two institutions, Brigham Young University (BIO 100, BIO 100H, BIO 350) and Utah Valley University (BIOL 3700). “Team teaching” the non-majors Principles of Biology Honors section at BYU with Keith Crandall taught me to approach teaching in a broader, deeper, more intimate and student-directed learning environment. Team teaching Ecology with Russell Rader taught me to make complex subjects accessible to students by linking abstract, conceptual, and mathematical ideas and skills and also taking students out into nature. Teaching as sole instructor gave me more freedom to implement active learning techniques in the classroom and guide student learning through applying and creating. 

UnB Logo - University of Brasilia logoDuring Spring 2016, I was part of a team of four postdocs offering, for the first time ever, a course on Integrative Taxonomy to graduate students in Zoology at my present institution, the Universidade de Brasília. Last year’s course in Brazil was an outstanding success, and we are currently submitting the resulting empirical (1) and opinion papers (1) resulting from the course to Frontiers in Zoology and BMC Zoology. I am currently a Guest Lecturer for the Summer 2017 section of Integrative Taxonomy (BIOL 391) taught by Florencia Breitman at Virginia Commonwealth University.

I am also currently developing my own undergraduate and graduate-level courses in core Biology courses and specialty topics, including undergraduate courses in Evolutionary Biology, Ichthyology, and Genetics, and a graduate course in Statistical Phylogenetics and Phylogeography. 


Principles of Biology Honors section (non-majors, co-taught with Keith Crandall).

BIO100Course Description:   The purpose of this course is to help students develop character traits, intellectual abilities, and basic literacy in biological sciences to “think clearly, communicate effectively, and act wisely” as stewards and citizens in their homes, communities, and the world. The learning outcomes for this course include 1) acquiring basic literacy of the language of science and biology, including ability to describe and explain basic principles of biology and to plan and perform simple experiments and draw conclusions from the results using the scientific method; 2) exercising sound scientific reasoning, for example by evaluating scientific evidence and developing intellectual and abilities for effective communication; and 3) accept responsibility for personal and public stewardship, through learning to integrate sound scientific reasoning with other disciplines to address real-world biology-related issues and use these skills to make decisions to take responsibility as stewards of human communities and the natural world.

Required Text: Simon, E. J., Reece, J. B., Dickey, J. L. 2009. Essential Biology, Fourth edition. with Mastering Biology and Virtual Biology Labs. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco, 544 pp.  Buy it on Amazon

Other Required Texts: Bacon F (2001) The Advancement of Learning. edited by Stephen J. Gould. Modern Library Science Series. Modern Library. 254 pp. [original work part of volume set published by Bacon in 1605]

Hardy GH (2012) A Mathematician’s Apology. Cambridge University Press, Reissue edition. Canto Classics. 154 pp. [original memoir published by Hardy in 1940]

Watson J (2001) The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. Touchtone. 256 pp. [original published by Watson in 1964]  


Ecology General Ecology – Summer 2014 website.

foodwebCourse Description:  Ecology is the scientific study of the relationships between organisms and their environment, including interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms. This course provides an introduction to the patterns and processes influencing variation across different biological levels, from individuals to populations, communities, and ecosystems. Different timescales are also addressed, from brief behavioral processes to historical processes operating over millions of years (e.g. evolutionary change, plate tectonics). In this course, we investigate the principles that determine variation in 1) global ecology, biome structure and distribution; 2) the growth, physiology, and reproduction of individual organisms (e.g. temperature regulation, life histories); 3) interactions between living organisms and the physical environment (ecosystems); 4) population fluctuations; 5) multispecies interactions; and 6) community diversity and stability. This course fulfills a 3.0 credit hour requirement for the BS degree in Biology.

Required Text:  Molles, M.C. Jr. (2013) Ecology: Concepts and Applications, 6th edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.  Buy it on Amazon

Recommended Text:  Gotelli, N. (2008) A Primer of Ecology, 4th edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.  One copy is available from the instructor.  Buy it on Amazon.  


Integrative Taxonomy (Tópicos em Zoologia: Taxonomía Integrativa com Ênfase em Squamata) – Spring 2016 website.

Enyalius_bilineatus“The first step to wisdom is getting things by their right name.” – Chinese Proverb cited by Edward O. Wilson in Naturalist.

Course Description: Taxonomy is the field of biology concerned with discovering, naming, describing, and classifying organisms. Taxonomic classifications provide a means of communicating and storing information about species, which are the fundamental components of biodiversity. As such, taxonomy forms the basis of all studies in ecology, systematics, biogeography, and conservation biology. Taxonomy has a longstanding history dating back to the 17th and 18th Centuries, and the majority of alpha taxonomy work (species descriptions) have been conducted based on comparisons of morphological data gathered from specimens, including continuous measures and meristic counts of anatomical structures. However, alpha taxonomy has now evolved to incorporate a variety of data types, including molecular (genetic), ecological, behavioral, and physiological data from individuals of different species. This change towards an ‘Integrative Taxonomy’ has emerged in association with paradigm shifts in our concepts of the nature and classification of species. To-date, taxonomists have described an estimated 1.78 million species; however, the number of species probably in existence on Earth today is estimated to range from 5 to 30 million species! During this course, students will learn the principles and practices of Integrative Taxonomy, including how to integrate different sources of evidence to describe independent evolutionary lineages as new species. By collaborating with the instructors, students will develop a species description project involving gathering morphological data and combining those data with information from DNA sequences and ecology in an integrative taxonomy framework. This course will promote the use and value of scientific collections, and will also use approaches to teaching, course development, and research based in the spirit of the scientific method.

Required Text:  Text excerpts and primary literature sources (journal papers) available on course website. 

Recommended Text:  Winston, J.E. (1999) Describing Species: Practical Taxonomic Procedure for Biologists. Columbia University Press, New York. One copy is available from the instructor.  Buy it on Amazon.  

Portuguese – Descrição do curso: Taxonomia é o campo da biologia enfocado na descoberta, nomeação, descrição e classificação dos organismos. Classificação taxonómica fornecem um meio de comunicação e armazenamento de informações sobre as espécies, e espécies são componentes fundamentais da biodiversidade. Como tal, taxonomia constitui a base de todos os estudos de ecologia, sistemática, biogeografia e conservação. Taxonomia tem uma longa história que remonta aos séculos XVII e XVIII, e a maioria dos trabalhos de taxonomia alfa (descrições de novas espécies) têm sido conduzidos com base em comparações de dados morfológicos recolhidos a partir de espécimes, incluindo medidas contínuas e contagens merísticos de estruturas anatômicas. No entanto, alfa taxonomia evoluiu para incorporar uma variedade de tipos de dados, incluindo dados moleculares (genética), ecológicos, comportamentais e fisiológicos de indivíduos de diferentes espécies. Essa mudança a uma ‘Taxonomia Integrativa’ surgiu em associação com mudanças de paradigma em nossos conceitos sobre a natureza e a classificação das espécies. Hoje, taxonomistas têm descrito um aproximamente 1,78 milhões de espécies; no entanto, o número de espécies provavelmente em existência hoje na Terra é estimado para a faixa de 5 a 30 milhões de espécies! Durante este curso, os alunos irão aprender os princípios e práticas da Taxonomia Integrativa, incluindo como integrar diferentes fontes de evidência para descrever linhagens evolutivas independentes como novas espécies. Colaborando com os professores, os alunos irão desenvolver um projeto de descrição da espécie envolvendo recolha de dados morfológicos e combinar esses dados com informações de seqüências de DNA e ecologia num trabalho de Taxonomia Integrativa. Este curso irá promover a utilização e o valor de coleções científicas, e também vai usar abordagens de ensino, do desenvolvimento do curso e a investigação baseada no espírito do método científico.