Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Physics
B.A., Eckerd College; M.S., Ph.D., University of Virginia
I fell in love with science as a child, balanced on my toes on a stool leaning over the sink with a friend, our “chemicals”, including dish soap and bubble bath, surrounding us, trying to remove the smell from black pepper. I remember the intensity with which we worked and the thrill of feeling that we were discovering something. My goal as a science educator is to foster that same sense of wonder and curiosity in all of my students.
I earned my undergraduate degree at Eckerd College in Environmental Studies-Public Policy. As a student at a small liberal arts college, I loved getting to know my professors and the opportunities for research, including a project studying water quality in Nicaragua. My interest in water quality led me to the University of Virginia for an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences. I studied how physical processes affect the biological processes in shallow coastal systems. Unfortunately, we frequently study average or calm weather conditions in these systems and forget how much winds and waves can affect the primary producers. I used modeling, experiments and monitoring data to study how wind conditions affect light and nutrient availability for seagrass. I am continuing this research and look forward to involving students in it. After graduate school, I took my work inland and began working on rainwater harvesting systems. These systems are designed to collect the rain that falls on the roof of a building and use it for irrigation, toilets and other uses. My primary interest is how rainwater harvesting can be used to reduce stormwater runoff and protect coastal systems.
A childhood love of thunderstorms led me to study meteorology as an undergraduate, and then a stirring guest speaker from NASA convinced me to focus on global change as my mien for graduate study and my career beyond.
At Randolph, I have had the challenge and privilege of developing an interdisciplinary major in environmental studies. The goal of Randolph’s environmental studies program is to develop scholars, thinkers, teachers, and activists who back up their passion for the environment with a sound grasp of the underlying science and policy, and a comfortable ability to work with numbers.
My philosophy for teaching environmental studies also rests on the belief that to understand the environment, you have to get out in it, literally and figuratively. Environmental studies students all get wet and dirty at some point (or at several points) in their academic experience here — through stream monitoring in Introductory Environmental Studies, or geology field trips in Earth Interactions, or on a geocaching treasure hunt. I also encourage each student to consider how study abroad, field work programs, and internships opportunities fit into her ultimate academic plan, and how seeking “a life more abundant” fits into her own environmental philosophy.
I am the the Herzog Family Chair of Environmental Studies at Randolph College, and hold degrees in meteorology (B.S. from Cornell University) and energy and resources (M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley). I have taught at U.C. Berkeley, Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I teach many of the core and upper-division courses in environmental studies (including quantitative aspects of environmental problems, energy & society, earth interactions, and environmental policy), coordinate the senior program in environmental studies, am a faculty advisor for the student-run environmental club, and chair the Randolph Environmental Issues Council. My specialties and areas of research include: climate and global change, mathematical modeling, energy and environmental policy, and quantitative methods in environmental analysis. In addition to the global environment, my passions in life include my daughter, Galen, and son, Xan, hiking, gardening, low-stress cooking, reading anything I can get my hands on, and practicing t’ai chi chuan and yoga.