My personal science communication and science-art projects explore the potential of fully integrating the arts in communicating ecology/ecological research stories.
Right now, I am working on several projects which explore the role stories and other art/humanities approaches) play in shaping public perspectives of science/ecology topics.
1. Ecological Concepts in Children’s Books: The first investigates “How Ecological Concepts are Represented in Children’s Books,” and involves visual critique and content analysis of Caldecott Medal-winning books held in the University of Wyoming’s Toppan Rare Books Collection. The anticipated outcome is an academic article for submission in a journal such as Biology Teacher, along with workshops which will facilitate discussions between librarians, teachers, children’s book creators, and biologists.
2. The Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare: My second project dovetails with the first, and involves a specific familiar fable. I am conducting research and interviews in/about ecosystems where tortoises and hares actually co-exist. Research is currently on-going in Arizona and East Africa. The anticipated outcome is a multimedia project and exhibition a) investigating the conservation and social/cultural issues in ecosystems where tortoises and hares co-exist, and b) illustrating the value of utilizing a multidisciplinary science+art method for telling this story.
3. School of the High Plains: In spring 2017, I was one of 13 artists commissioned by the Laramie Mural Project to design and paint a component of the expansion of the downtown Laramie “Gill Street” mural, which features fish designed to evoke Wyoming icons. My design depicts a group of five pronghorn along their ~100-mile migration route – the Path of the Pronghorn. The mural was dedicated in August 2018. Details here.
4. Pica Tidings: The black-billed magpie (Pica pica) and magpies around the world have long been creatures of lore, omen, portent. I grew up in an area where magpies are common, and recently started researching what we know about them from historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives. Right now, the project is developing into a long-form essay about how smart we now know corvids are, how they are good and bad luck, depending on your culture, and how essential magpies are (as scavengers) for nutrient cycling.
4. Hunting for a Sense of Place: Eating as an Exploration of Myth, Ritual, and Ecology on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front: a collection of essays about conservation and natural history in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front ecosystem
5. Drawn to Science: In collaboration with professors and instructors at the University of Wyoming, I am investigating the efficacy of drawing instruction, and drawing requirements, in a range of science-related courses. Investigation focuses both on drawing training and expectations for instructors and training and expectations for students. These courses include, but are not limited to, a freshman seminar focused on natural history appreciation; life science for elementary educators; animal biology.
6. Ecological Society of America’s Communication and Engagement Section: Through a combination of teaching and communicating, I have come to believe deeply in the importance of science communication training. To that end, I co-founded the Communication and Engagement Section of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in 2014. I regularly co-facilitate science communication training workshops at annual ESA conferences. I also developed and now maintain the Section website, served as Secretary (2015-2016), and was voted to serve as Chairperson-Elect (2016-2017) and Chairperson in 2017-2018.
7. Teaching Science Communication Courses: In addition to teaching a host of workshops now and in the past, I teach at the University of Wyoming. I’ve posted the syllabus for each course. I am happy to also share course materials, etc.
- Autumn 2018: Lead Instructor, course designer, ZOO 5890-4: Visualizing Science, Zoology & Physiology Department, University of Wyoming (syllabus; public website featuring student work)
- Autumn 2017: Lead Instructor, primary course designer, ZOO 5890-4: The Art of Science Communication, Zoology & Physiology Department, University of Wyoming.
- Click here to view University of Wyoming press release about our students’ collaboration with the Laramie Mural Project and the Laramie Public Art Coalition.
- Click here for a Laramie Boomerang feature article about one of the students, which resulted from our course unit on scientists interacting with the media.
- Syllabus; public website featuring student work
- Spring 2017: Lead Instructor, lead course designer, ERS 2500: Writing Across Topics in Energy; School of Energy Resources, University of Wyoming. Click here to view University of Wyoming press release about our students’ collaboration with the University of Wyoming Art Museum. (syllabus; public website featuring student work)
- Spring 2016: Lead Instructor, ERS 2500: Writing Across Topics in Energy; School of Energy Resources, University of Wyoming (syllabus)
- Autumn 2015: Instructor of Record, ENGL 1010-30: Composition and Rhetoric; English Department, University of Wyoming (syllabus)