I am a dedicated naturalist, ecologist, and environmental educator with a passion for writing. As a Lecturer in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, my courses emphasize natural history and environmental education & communication. I am also the Director of the Environmental Science Summer Program at Duke and Director of the NSOE Communications Studio.
Education. My ecological training began before college at The Grove, a nature preserve in northern Illinois. There, I worked at as a naturalist and educator. I received my B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois – Urbana, I graduating summa cum laude after three years of study. Before starting my doctoral studies, I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Knoxville, TN working at the interface of water quality policy and science. I also volunteered at The Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL.
I completed my doctoral studies in Duke University’s Program in Ecology, one of the top three programs in the nation (see National Research Council). My dissertation research explored the multi-scale distributions and conservation status of snakes in the North American tallgrass prairie and integrated the quantitatively intense methods of landscape ecology with the more traditional field-based approach of conservation biology (see 2008 paper).
Academic Positions. In 2011, I joined the Thompson Writing Program (TWP) at Duke University as a Lecturing Fellow. The TWP provided intensive training in pedagogical methods, allowing me to develop courses that empowered students to complete real-world research and service-learning projects. These courses included Endangered Ecosystems of North Carolina, From Woods to Words, and European Environmentalism. I also used the TWP’s unique interdisciplinary environment to develop a new research program focused on environmental education.
In 2013, I was invited to join the Faculty of the Nicholas School of the Environment, where I teach courses in natural history (e.g., Forest Measurements, Wildlife Surveys) and communication (e.g., Writing for Environmental Professionals). This particular amalgamation of subjects follows a long tradition of naturalists, including Aldo Leopold and E. O. Wilson, that combine science and communication in their work.
I regularly conduct biotic surveys of the Duke Forest and annually survey bird-window collisions on Duke’s campus (see C.V. for publications). I also research and write about environmental education, particularly in non-formal settings (e.g., nature centers, e.g., Cagle 2013), and the development of teaching practices among the environmentally dedicated.
Environmental Education & Service. In addition, I am committed to environmental education, both locally and globally. For example, I have built a footbridge at Occoneechee Mountain State Park and taught biology and English in a small town in Tanzania. In 2007, I completed my North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. In 2012, I completed my Native Plant Studies certificate at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, where I currently teach continuing education courses. I also write a bi-monthly natural history newsletter for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. In 2013, I became a National Association for Interpretation Certified Interpretive Trainer. I also had the opportunity to explore the current climate in K-12 education as a North Carolina Science Leadership Fellow (2012-2014). In 2016, I completed my Kamana I Naturalist Certificate from the Wilderness Awareness School. Currently, I am exploring the internal dimensions of human connection to the natural world in the Inner Life of the Child in Nature program offered by the Center for Education, Imagination, and the Natural World.
Finally, I have a deep interest in foreign culture and language that compelled me to study a number of languages and travel to all 50 states and over 35 countries. On the weekends, I love spending time in nature, writing and reading, visiting historical sites, and exploring local museums with my husband and remarkable son.