Why did you choose Hamilton?
It felt like a natural fit. They were advertising for a plant ecologist, and that’s right in my wheelhouse. It’s what I love to study and teach. At the same time, it was a place where I could do the kind of work I wanted to. There are all these great initiatives across campus right now to improve reforestation so that we can restore biodiversity and fight climate change. That’s something that dovetails really nicely with my research. And as a professor, I want to give students the opportunity to do research by sort of bringing the lab into the classroom. Hamilton, with all these different opportunities and ways to do that creatively — it was just too perfect to pass up.
What are you looking forward to in your classes this semester?
In the second half of my senior thesis research course, it’s exciting because we asked all these cool questions last semester, and now, hopefully, we’re going to see some answers rolling in. I’m also really excited for a lecture and lab course I’m teaching called Biodiversity. In this class, we will learn about what makes ecological communities, why they interact the way they do, and how people are changing them, both in bad ways — through climate change, invasive species, and habitat fragmentation — but also in good ways. I’m an optimist, so we have to also focus on what we are doing to conserve biodiversity and restore it after it’s been degraded. It’s a very exciting class to think about because I get to talk about a lot of things that I’m really passionate about.
“We’ll be asking the students to give input on what species of trees to plant and why, so they can develop their understanding for what goes into those decisions. I’m hoping [they] get fired up and feel like they can take ownership over stuff that’s going on in their community.”
Students will also enjoy learning about biodiversity and then applying their knowledge in a hands-on way. In the lab, we’re going to work directly with some of the reforestation work going on around campus. We’ll be asking the students to give some input on what species of trees to plant and why so they can develop their understanding for what goes into those decisions. I’m hoping that students get fired up and feel like they can take ownership over the stuff that’s going on in their community.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
It’s not going to surprise you. The glens here are fantastic. We can teach there, and we can do our research there. They’re also just nice. My wife, daughter, and I go for a walk there on the weekends. Out of all the glens, though, I would say that Rogers Glen is my favorite right now. Usually people say Root Glen, but I like that Rogers is a little bit off the beaten path, and there are some really cool types of forests. We have six or seven different types of forests there that all show their own unique history. Having that at our fingertips is such a cool resource.
What are your favorite things about Hamilton?
First, it’s the community. It’s fantastic. When you come here, when you work here, when you learn here — you know that you’re part of this network of people. I think we’ve learned over these past two years that the connections we make with others are really important. The second thing that I love are the views. When I got here in June of last year, I was driving up this big hill for the first time, and I was a bit awestruck. Then, in the fall, I got to look out my office window and see all these fantastic colors. Hamilton’s just a really cool place to be with lots of cool people.