While teaching at CMI, my goal was for my students to develop a curiosity, respect, and deeper understanding about the environment around them. In addition to hands-on experiences, I also focused on active learning in the classroom. Classes consistently included time for students to make their own predictions, organized partner or group work, discussions, and opportunities for students to explain concepts in their own words.
I believe the scientific process is best learned when students actively participate in each step rather than by following predetermined instructions. In each of my 200-level courses at CMI, students developed and implemented a semester-long class research project. Projects included comparisons of coral reef communities or coral growth rates at protected and unprotected sites. Students presented their results in class and also at two local public symposia.
As my career began with undergraduate research, mentoring undergraduates is very important to me. At CIEE Bonaire, I co-advised three students on 13-week independent research projects, offering guidance throughout the process from planning to presenting. While working at CMI, four of my students were selected to attend the Research Experience for Undergraduates for Pacific Islanders Program, which was the highest CMI representation in the program's history.
I served on CMI's Curriculum Committee for three semesters. I used this experience to develop a 30-credit Certificate in Marine Science program, including the creation of five new courses, with the main learning outcomes focused on marine ecosystems, research, conservation, and science communication. In May 2018, I was extremely proud to watch the first cohort of nine Marine Science Certificate students graduate.
Within my dissertation, I have mentored 10 undergraduates through field and laboratory research experiences in Florida and Bonaire. These volunteers include five women and five students from underrepresented groups. If you are a highly motivated undergraduate student interested in volunteering, feel free to reach out.