I am interested in how we encourage ecology and biology students to engage in learning and retain what they learn. This is important throughout our educational experiences, whether inside a classroom or while on a walk in nature. The increasing popularity of citizen science programs facilitates engagement by the public in biology, ecology, and conservation, and I’m interested in whether such projects really do improve learning and scientific literacy. I’m also interested in how data generated by citizen science projects can best be used to address ecological research questions.
Outside of my interests in teaching and learning, my ecological research focuses on the effects of global change on ecosystems and organisms. Most of my work has focused on ecosystem-level consequences of conversion to agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon, the world region where deforestation and conversion to industrial-scale agriculture are happening most rapidly. Much of what we know about the consequences of intensive agriculture come from the temperate zone, but the unique climate and soils of the tropics alter the tradeoffs between food production and environmental consequences, sometimes in unexpected ways. I specifically look at hydrological and biogeochemical changes in streams and soils which inform our understanding of important ecological parameters including water quality, climate control, and soil fertility.