About Me

Thanks for visiting my website.

Joe in field with anemometer
I am an ecologist that has been doing research at the intersection of mathematics and biology, including wind dispersal of weed seeds and biological control of invasive weeds. I am also an education researcher studying how students learn about biological systems, as a way to improve teaching.

Currently, I am at Michigan State University splitting my time between these two research directions. I research
the growth, spread, and management of the incredibly invasive Japanese knotweed. In addition to my research, I have been coordinating research by elementary school students interested in controlling this weed. You can learn more about my current plant ecology research and outreach here.

My other research direction is motivated by wanting to improve how I teach biology for undergraduate students. Professional scientists regularly use models of their systems: drawings, flow charts, and even mathematical models. I am developing metrics to assess whether students can learn to construct science models during introductory biology and if these skills are retained later in their college careers.

Education is very important to me and I have taught courses on weed ecology and insect population dynamics, and guest-taught in a variety of biology courses. I believe in creating an active classroom where students are challenged to understand the relationships between biological processes. You can learn about my teaching philosophy and teaching background here.