Courses Taught

Abbreviations used for Course Description Rubrics: GEOL = Geology; MCB = Microbiology; CHP = Campus Honors Program; UP = Urban and Regional Planning; ESE = Earth, Society and the Environment; OLLI = Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; UIUC = University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; YAI = Yellowstone Association Institute; MOOC = Massively Open Online Course through Coursera; INSPIRE = Illinois-Swedish Program for Educational and Research Exchange

Teaching Awards and Recognitions

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, April 2013

Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Office of the Provost, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, April 2013

Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, awarded for 1997 to 2014

King Broadrick-Allen Award for Excellence in Honors Teaching, Campus Honors Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, May 2010. Awarded for teaching classroom, laboratory and field courses on Biocomplexity at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park and on the coral reefs of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.

“Specialized” and “Online” Courses

MOOC Emergence of Life

(Fall 2014, Spring 2015)
Website: https://www.coursera.org/course/emergenceoflife This online course has had a total enrollment to-date of more than 56,000 students from 154 countries around the world. The class evaluates the entire history of life on Earth within the context of our cutting-edge understanding of the Tree of Life. This includes the pioneering work of Professor Carl Woese on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus that revolutionized our understanding of the Tree of Life. Other themes include: (1) reconnaissance of ancient primordial life before the first cell evolved; (2) the entire ~4-billion-year development of single- and multi-celled life through the lens of the Tree of Life; and (3) the influence of Earth system processes (meteor impacts, volcanoes, ice sheets) on shaping and structuring the Tree of Life. This synthesis emphasizes the universality of the emergence of life as a prelude for the search for extraterrestrial life.

GEOL or ESE 111 UIUC Emergence of Life

(Springs 2014, 2015)
Website: https://courses.illinois.edu/search/schedule/2015/spring/ESE/111 This is the formal UIUC on-campus version of the MOOC course. This Gen Ed-approved undergraduate course has had an enrollment of 170 students in each offering, and contains additional extensive writing assignments and virtual classroom work that are not a part of the MOOC offering.

OLLI UIUC Emergence of Life

(Winter 2015)
Website: http://olli.illinois.edu This is a formal UIUC on-campus OLLI version of the MOOC course. Each 8-week offering will have approximately 30 students. Students range in age from 50 to 65 years old and are primarily composed of professionals from a wide variety of fields, ranging from medicine and law to art and education.

YAI Mammoth Microbes and Their Global Connections

(Winters 2008, 2010, 2014, 2015)
Website: https://www.yellowstoneassociation.org This 1-week course is taught in the field at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park is a condensed version of the MOOC. Students range in age from 35 to 65 years old and are primarily composed of professionals from a wide variety of fields, ranging from medicine and law to art and education. Yellowstone National Park rangers also participate. The course was attended by 15 students from around the United States (including Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina, New York, Illinois and California). Virtually all of the students were drawn to the course by having completed our MOOC entitled Emergence of Life. Half of the course was in the classroom at YAI Headquarters in Gardner, Montana, while the other half was taught on snowshoes in the field at Mammoth.

INSPIRE UIUC Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic

(Summer 2012)
Website: http://www.inspire.illinois.edu This innovative summer course brought together faculty and students from the Royal Swedish Technological Institute (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, with Illinois faculty and students to pursue interdisciplinary studies on Arctic resource management, geopolitics, geology, and climate change. The course spent 4 weeks in Stockholm on the KTH campus, and 2 weeks in the field at Longyearbyen, Svaldbard, Norway.

“In Person” Classroom, Laboratory and Field Courses

GEOL 117 The Oceans

(Fall Semesters 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)
The course has an enrollment of 200 students in each class and consists of classroom lectures. This is an introductory oceanography course that explores the composition and history of sea floor sediments, the physical and chemical nature of sea water (including chemical equilibria and the physics of currents, waves, and tides), marine life, cause-and-effect linkages between ocean circulation and atmospheric climate, and society's impact on the oceans.

GEOL 143 History of Life

(Fall Semesters 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
This course has an enrollment of 162 students in each class and consists of classroom lectures as well as a weekly laboratory practical. This course provides an overview of the dynamically linked co-evolution of Life and Earth. A detailed evaluation is undertaken of the successive evolutionary stages of all forms of life from bacteria to dinosaurs and humans over the last 3.8 billion years. In addition, students learn about the profound influence of mass extinctions caused by meteor impacts and how these geological processes have shaped modern ecosystems and biodiversity on our planet.

GEOL 290/292 and MCB 290/292

Directed Undergraduate Research (offered for each of the 36 semesters since I arrived at Illinois in Fall 1997). This directed study course is designed to provide undergraduate students with experience in conducting geoscience research in the library, laboratory and field. This includes how to develop and test relevant scientific hypotheses and how to write and read scientific papers. Topics have included carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, sedimentary geochemistry, hot spring geobiology, coral reef disease, hydrocarbon exploration, meteor impact processes and Roman aqueduct geoarcheology.

CHP 390 Yellowstone Biocomplexity

(Fall Semesters 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
The course has an enrollment of 18 students in each class and consists of classroom lectures, a weekly laboratory practical and a capstone field trip in the winter to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The course focuses on a progressive new integration of the natural and applied sciences, called Biocomplexity, that is revolutionizing our understanding of how Life has evolved and survived on an ever-changing Earth. Microbes (bacteria and archaea) are the most long-standing, abundant, and diverse forms of life on our planet, and therefore are involved in virtually all biocomplexity interactions. Students establish working hypotheses during the semester that they test with hands-on experiments in Yellowstone.

CHP 390 Coral Reef Biocomplexity

(Summer Semesters 2009, 2014)
The course has an enrollment of 18 students and consists of classroom lectures, a laboratory practical and a capstone field trip to the coral reefs of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, in the southern Caribbean. The program was based out of the Caribbean Marine Biological Institute (Carmabi). Students investigated how coral reef biology, geology, ecology, and oceanography are intimately connected with human history and activities on the island. Biocomplexity studies are now yielding revolutionary benefits for society that range from the discovery of powerful human medicines to identifying sustainable energy resources and understanding how key ecosystems respond to rapid global warming. The course addressed a broad spectrum of expansive scientific and cultural environmental issues facing our planet, and gave students experience in SCUBA-based research techniques required to answer these questions. An outreach project was conducted in which students contribute to educational programs on Curaçao being run by the research staff at Carmabi.

GEOL 440 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

(Spring Semesters 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
The course has an enrollment of 30 students in each class and consists of classroom lectures, a weekly laboratory practical and a capstone field trip to measure and analyze outcrops in either Indiana or Illinois. From 1997 to 2005 I taught the course alone. From 2006 onward I have been co-teaching the course with Professor Jim Best, which has allowed us to increase the depth to which the students experience both siliciclastic and carbonate depositional systems. The class is designed to provide both undergraduate and graduate students with an integrated overview of sedimentology and stratigraphy. State-of-the-art analytical tools are integrated with the latest theoretical concepts on sediment deposition and water-rock interaction to provide a comprehensive answer to the question What is the origin of a sedimentary rock?. Emphasis is placed on: 1) quantitative description and classification of the composition and layering of sedimentary rocks; 2) spatial and temporal models for reconstructing depositional environments (facies); 3) application of quantitative models for sediment deposition and water-rock interaction; 4) reconstructing sea level as a link to gauging ancient climate, oceanic circulation, biotic evolution, and tectonic regimes.

GEOL 415/515 Field Geology

(Fall Semesters1997, 2001, 2004, 007, 2009)
The course has an enrollment of 30 students and consists of classroom lectures, a weekly laboratory practical and a capstone field trip during January to the coral reefs of either Curaçao or Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, in the southern Caribbean. On Curaçao, our base of operation is the Caribbean Marine Biological Institute (Carmabi), while on Bonaire we stay at a 150 year old Dutch plantation house located in Washington-Slagbaai National Park. This is a field geology class with emphasis placed on cross-disciplinary field concepts and techniques in sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, geochemistry, coral reef ecology, geomicrobiology, anthropology and the local cultural history and language development. From 1997 to 2007, I taught the course using snorkel techniques. In 2009, I required that all of the students become SCUBA certified, which permitted more advanced experiments to be conducted in the field for the students to test hypotheses they developed during the semester.

GEOL 493 Carbonate Sedimentology

(Fall Semesters 1997, 1998, 1999)

The course has an enrollment of 6 students and consists of classroom lectures and a weekly laboratory practical, followed by a capstone field trip to analyze limestone outcrops in Illinois and Missouri A course to give advanced undergraduate and graduate students a rigorous theoretical foundation in carbonate sedimentary geochemistry. Includes practical hands-on experience in cutting-edge techniques of cathodoluminescence petrography and mass balance water-rock interaction modeling. Student projects include accurate reconstruction of: 1) marine and terrestrial environments of carbonate sedimentation, including sea level at the time of deposition; and 2) the composition, timing, hydrology, and diagenetic effects of waters that have flowed through these sediments since their deposition.

GEOL 497 Geology and Microbiology of CO2 Sequestration

(Spring 2010)
This new course has an enrollment of 20 students and consists of classroom lectures. I am co-teaching this course with Professor Steve Marshak and Research Professor Robert Sanford in Geology. We also had several guest lecturers who specialize in CO2 sequestration from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). The US Department of Energy has identified carbon sequestration (long-term carbon dioxide capture and storage, CCS) as a fundamental means by which to stabilize climate-forcing CO2 emissions. This course investigates our current knowledge of the primary geological; geochemical and microbiological components of the subsurface that will control the effectiveness and impact of subsurface carbon sequestration. Topics include global carbon cycles on the ancient and modern earth, state-of-the-art CCS technologies and concepts, and the future economic and policy implications of carbon sequestration, as well as other alternative approaches.

GEOL 497/UP 494 Sustainable Island Development

(Fall 2010)
This new course has an enrollment of 60 students and consists of classroom lectures. I am co-teaching this course with Professor Ed Feser in Urban and Regional Planning. The course will emphasize the global connections of economics (economic development, innovation, public policy), planning (land use, regulation, plan making) and environmental geoscience (geology, microbiology, oceanography, chemistry, and physics). This will result in a unique course content that is virtually unmatched with respect to its integrative scope and emphasis on predictive modeling. Students will learn to approach a broad spectrum of expansive scientific, cultural, economic and planning issues in the context of both social and environmental sciences based on a broad core set of working first principles. Thus the course will be of interest and utility for students across the Illinois campus.

Off-Campus Teaching for University of Illinois Initiatives

Microbial Diversity Course, Veterinary Medicine

(July 1999)
This course was directed by Professor Abigail Salyers in Microbiology and is taught at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitute (WHOI) in Massachusetts. This course has an enrollment of 30 Microbiology and Geology graduate students from around the world and consists of classroom lectures, laboratories and field work on Cape Cod. I have lectured at this course on the ecology and geology and thermophilic bacteria in Yellowstone National Park.

Envirovet Summer Institute, Veterinary Medicine

(July 2007, July 2008)
This course has been established by Professor Val Beasley in Veterinary Medicine and is taught at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) in Florida. This course has an enrollment of 30 Veterinary Medicine students from around the world and consists of classroom lectures, laboratories and field work in Florida. I have lectured at this course on coral reef diseases.

Teaching for Other Institutions

National Science Foundation (NSF), Cutting Edge Workshop, Teaching Biocomplexity in the Geosciences, Systems Geobiology, taught a 1-day field course to 30 workshop participants at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, April 2003.

Agouron Institute, University of Southern California, taught a 1-day field course to 30 graduate students from institutions around the world at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, July 2006.

Yellowstone Association Institute, taught a 2-day field course to 15 adult education participants at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, January 2008. The course, entitled Mammoth Microbes and Coral Reefs: Their Global Connections, was also available for formal coarse credits through Montana State University.

NASA Astrobiology Institute, University of Washington Seattle, taught a 1-day field course for 30 graduate students at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, May 2007.

Agouron Institute, University of Southern California, taught a lecture and laboratory module on Systems Geobiology to 30 graduate students from institutions around the world at the Wrigley Marine Laboratory on Catalina Island, June 2008.

Thermal Biology Institute, Montana State University, Yellowstone National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Coordination Network, taught a 1-day field course to 30 meeting participants at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, January 2008.