What is your position at UNL?
I am an Assistant Professor of Entomology. I have a teaching and extension appointment. I teach classes on scientific presentation/communication, developing distance-delivered courses and teaching with insects. In my research, I work on science literacy understanding, impacts of different teaching approaches on science understanding and pollinator conservation. I spend a good portion of my extension appointment working on native pollinators and educational programming around this issue.
What drew you to UNL?
I went to undergraduate and graduate school at UNL. I worked as a staff member in the Department of Entomology until 2006. I knew many of the staff and faculty around campus – all very warm and welcoming. The people here were a big attraction to coming back to UNL. The main reason I came back was the position. My position was created as a part of an initiative to enhance STEM education at UNL. I was IANR’s initial Discipline-Based Educational Researcher (DBER) hire. Now there are several other faculty on campus doing DBER, work including the Science Literacy team. Its great to have a number of collaborators across UNL to work with.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I love to teach. I really enjoy working with both children and adults in informal educational settings. My students and I incorporate hands-on learning activities and educational technologies in our teaching. It’s fun to teach to crowds hungry to learn. I love engaging others in dialog around understanding how science works.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have three children ages 6 (Braden), 3 (Grace) and 3 (Will) and a beautiful wife, Erinn. My children are obviously at the top of my list. I can think of a couple of work-related things that have been fun. We have a National Science Foundation funded STEM teaching improvement grant that I am proud to be a team member on. I think the work we are doing with STEM educators and department heads/chairs across the university will make a lasting impact on undergraduate teaching. One of the cooler projects that we started just this year is the new pollinator garden and outdoor classroom located at the northwest corner of 48th and Holdredge. It is a 1/2 acre space demonstrating different types of pollinator gardens. There is also a honeycomb-shaped native bee house there. Much of the materials and funds were donated by private partners, public partners and UNL departments with additional support from grant funds. Check it out this spring when the plants start to bloom again.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
This is a hard one. What to reveal? I love to create art. I don’t get a lot of time to do it as a hobby. I do use my artistic skills in my job when I design projects (e.g., websites, educational materials), put together presentations and charts, and posters and presentations. I think that I sometimes drive my students crazy with alignment of objects and which photos to use in print and Web materials. I also tend to think about things differently (maybe creatively, or maybe I am just weird?). I think it helps me when problem solving and thinking about different approaches to research.
What is your life like outside of work?
Outside of work, I spend time with my family. I really enjoy being a dad. I try to take my children to as many UNL-related events as I can. It allows me to spend more time with them and exposes them to university culture a bit. Having three small children takes a lot of energy. Our kids are getting a little older now. So our (wife’s and my) 2016 New Year’s resolution is to go out on a date once a month.
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