STEM Education

My current efforts in STEM educational are directed towards developing new educational resources. Much of this work has focused on botany and tree thinking. Evolution is a unifying biological phenomenon, and a focus on tree thinking can be an effective approach to evolution education. New directions I am exploring are how to include more UDL in the resources I develop and how to use botany and evolution modules to improve students’ data skills.

The Tactile Tree Activity developed with Dr. Drew Hasley and Dr. Kristin Jenkins.

I have developed case studies, laboratory modules, and other resources to support evolution and botany education. This work has been conducted within my lab group and in collaboration with colleagues at HHMI BioInteractive and QUBES-BIOQUEST.

Plant Evolutionary Ecology

Wax golden weed Grindelia ciliata

Botanically, I have been fortunate to study a variety of different plants. A common theme in a majority of this work is plant reproduction. Most of my current research activities investigate different aspects of heterocarpy (production of two or more different fruit morphologies) in the genus Grindelia (gumweeds).

My students and I study the relationship between morphological dimorphisms and variation in dormancy and germination behavior. We are also looking at the impact of climate change on the ecology of heterocarpic species. I am also conducting a long-term study of annual variation in germination among populations of Grindelia along an elevational transect from western Kansas into Colorado.  

Grindelia lanceolata in Northern Oklahoma.
One of my favorite field sites in Colorado.

I am also interested in establishment ecology the rare species Alnus maritima (seaside alder, Betulaceae).