Fun and Compassionate Paleontologist Loves Science
Fun and Compassionate Paleontologist Loves Science
I am thrilled to be a tutor for WyzAnt Tutoring. My background as a science teacher in formal and informal education teaching K–12 students, college students, and adults makes me adaptable and allows me to easily relate to any age group. From my graduate experiences as a research scientist, I command a strong knowledge of the natural sciences, have led fieldwork, and have published scientific papers in paleontology and botany in major journals. A year after college, I was hired as a teacher...
I am thrilled to be a tutor for WyzAnt Tutoring. My background as a science teacher in formal and informal education teaching K–12 students, college students, and adults makes me adaptable and allows me to easily relate to any age group. From my graduate experiences as a research scientist, I command a strong knowledge of the natural sciences, have led fieldwork, and have published scientific papers in paleontology and botany in major journals. A year after college, I was hired as a teacher at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), a private school in Kamuela, Hawaii. My job was to teach biology, geometry, and SAT/ACT math preparation courses. Without any previous formal teaching experience, I learned something of the art of teaching in a trial by fire in the classroom. I was fortunate to have a previously built curriculum to follow. I adapted it and molded it to my teaching style. In my view, using multiple strategies to get the concepts across was most effective. For instance, I use a whiteboard to illustrate biological processes and PowerPoint presentations to build important vocabulary and convey written concepts. I constantly pepper the students with questions, both fun and serious, and I walk around the classroom to keep everyone moving a little, even if they’re stuck in their seats.
On top of sound and effective teaching, a big component of being a teacher at HPA was to engage frequently in an open dialogue with the students’ parents throughout the school year. I was accepted into the MAT program at Miami University in Ohio in spring 2010. I spent a semester studying principles of pedagogy, which taught me the philosophy behind so much of what I had learned trial by fire at HPA. I ultimately decided to pursue a course of study in science, which afforded me several opportunities to continue teaching. In the spring of 2013, I completed my master’s degree in botany at the University of Wyoming. As a graduate student, I taught six undergraduate general biology lab courses over two years. I was responsible for providing pre-laboratory instruction, usually in the form of 30 to 45 minutes of Socratic questioning about the content and concepts that would be covered in the lab experiment. The Socratic teaching style really helped students to learn how to reason through problems while working in groups, which I think promotes an atmosphere of learning.
As a scientist, I’ve contributed to multiple paleontology projects focused on research, collections, and curatorial work with the DMNS and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). In 2006, I started work on the Denver Basin Project with DMNS, a comprehensive study to understand the geologic history and fossil ecosystems in the Denver Basin. In 2007, I was hired by the NMNH to lead a two-year effort to repair 20,000+ cleared leaf slides used by botanists and paleobotanists for understanding leaf venation and its relation to taxonomy and phylogeny. The collection contains whole leaves in glass slides from hundreds of families, across thousands of genera, comprising tens of thousands of species. Leading this project allowed me to gain extensive lab experience including safety procedures. From 2011 to 2013, I was a graduate student at the University of Wyoming studying the fossil conifer cones from the Snowmass fossil site with Dr. Stephen Jackson. My work with extant conifers has shown that bract morphology, including presence or absence of teeth, apex and sinus shape, and bract scale venation, is very useful for identifying species. These characters are also useful for distinguishing late Pleistocene conifer species from Snowmass. So far using these characters I have identified Abies concolor, Picea engelmannii, and Pseudotsuga menziesii. The occurrence of A. concolor and P. menziesii around Snowmass during the last Pleistocene interglacial shows that forests containing both of these species extended further north than they do today. Based on the climatic tolerances of these species, we have inferred that the Snowmass region was warmer and wetter at that time compared to the present day. This study indicates that bract scale apex morphology is distinct between species, and provides new insights into conifer biogeography and paleoclimate in the Rocky Mountains and the evolutionary history of late Pleistocene conifers. Since April 2013, I have worked for a paleontological consulting firm, Rocky Mountain Paleosolutions. As a field paleontologist, I work on pre-construction paleontological resource surveys for transmission line upgrade, oil and gas well pads, solar farms, and drilling. I am transitioning back into teaching and would be honor to work with WyzAnt Tutoring.
Dane hasn’t set a schedule.