Throughout my academic career, I have served in multiple leadership roles within both my institution and the larger ecological community. At St. Ambrose, I currently co-advise the student environmental club, Green Life, which re-formed in the fall of my first year on campus after a several year hiatus. I also co-chair the campus sustainability committee, a mix of faculty, staff and students helping push campus forward through multiple events and initiatives. In this role, I supervise two student workers associated with grant development, leadership initiatives, and other activities to better campus. I was the organizer of SAU’s 2020-21 campus theme, titled “Changing Climates: From Rising Seas to Societal Needs.” This campus theme included seminars, workshops and other activities throughout the academic year to raise awareness about our changing planetary, political and social climates, both in our local community and around the world. I co-chair the Faculty Development Committee and serve on multiple additional work groups associated with the campus master plan, the general education curriculum, and student leadership scholarships.
Outside of St. Ambrose, I serve as a board member for the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program in Scott County Iowa, in an effort to restore native prairie species and mitigate environmental harms of county roadsides. I have coordinated research efforts, with SAU students, to understand the community dynamics of these roadsides, particularly to inventory and assess the habitat quality of rare, threatened and endangered native plants in Scott County. I am also a member of the local Botanical Center, The Nature Conservancy and the Ecological Society of America.
At SMWC, I was the advisor for all students in the Environmental Science program, and chair of Greening The Woods, a committee of faculty, staff and students dedicated to improving the campus community through sustainability initiatives. I was lead instructor for several courses at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, including the Sustainability Capstone and all courses within the Environmental Science Program. I have developed and converted several courses for online instruction and served on the SMWC Curriculum Committee.
I involved my students in several projects that have improved the campus community, including the development and maintenance of several pollinator gardens on campus, the restoration of the campus lake community, the construction and cultivation of a passive solar greenhouse with our partners at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and the implementation of trayless dining at the campus dining hall. Finally, I spearheaded the development of a sustainability summit, in partnership with the White Violet Center, to bring together regional leaders in sustainability studies to discuss their perspectives with members of the campus and local community.
My service extends beyond the campus and into the greater local community. I served as a board member and president for the Ouabache Land Conservancy, a conservation organization dedicated to protection of natural lands. In this role, I assisted with the construction of nature trails and events for a nature preserve, in addition to the development of public outreach materials for interactions with the local community.
My efforts as a graduate student led to the creation of a UNC student research symposium for ecology and environment, the first of its kind in the area, which fostered a supportive atmosphere for students to gain experience presenting their work and to network with their peers. I have chaired the symposium committee for three years, and the symposium has grown to include students from several universities throughout North Carolina.
I spent two years as President of my graduate student association, communicating with the chair and administrators of the program to ensure that graduate students needs and activities were properly addressed, as well as organizing the student population for networking and research efforts. In addition, I served as chair of our weekly seminar committee, organizing visits and hosting well-known ecological researchers from across the country. Finally, I served on the program review committee, identifying areas of improvement for a better University experience.
Several colleagues and I have organized a working group examining the challenges and benefits of interdisciplinary ecological research. This working group, comprised of a dozen researchers across the country, hosted a workshop at the 100th ESA Conference in August 2015 to flesh out the major ideas affiliated with interdisciplinary ecology, in an effort to identify best practices and areas for improvement as interdisciplinarity becomes more common place in the field.