Senior Lecturer in Biology and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) Program
BS, California State University, Stanislaus
MA, Baylor University
Ph.D., Baylor University
Riparian and Hyporheic Zones
Intermittent Stream Ecology, Dendroecology
Courses currently teaching
- General Biology (Bio 1401-01) - covering current events in human biology
- General Biology Honors (Bio 1401-H1) - current events in human biology for Honors students
- The Natural World I (BIC 2437) - Semester I general science for Sophomore BIC students
- The Natural World II (BIC 2447) - Semester II general science for Sophomore BIC students
- Modern Concepts in Bioscience II (BIO 1306) - Semester Two of the Intro Series
- Current Issues in Ecology (BIO 3100) - An upper level seminar course in ecological issues
Trees suck. So much so, that sometimes they even change stream water dynamics when they grow adjacent to stream banks. That's been a focus of my research into riparian zones and hyporheic connections between streams and canopy transpiration. Have you ever flown in an airplane and followed the snaking outline of stream networks below? Did you notice how differently the plants along the bank look (especially here in Texas) from the rest of the landscape? Those are riparian zones - fascinating, species-rich, highly productive ribbons of life that are taking advantage of the abundant water flowing in those stream channels. If we could burrow beneath the soil surface in these areas, we'd find that water doesn't simply run parallel to all those trees, but it moves from the stream bank and back again, forming underground braids of meandering "rivers" within the soil. That's a hyporheic zone; and just like riparian zones, hyporheic zones are highly productive and ecologically important areas where lots of biogeochemical cycling is taking place. And that's what makes these places so fun to explore!
My love of water can be attributed to my younger years growing up in the Texas Hill Country. Small streams there are the essence of "dynamic" - going from bone-dry creek beds to raging torrents overnight. As a child I spent many an hour in North Little Creek, digging for treasure, hunting arrowheads, skipping rocks, catching frogs and just plain getting muddy. Each time it flooded, the creek bed shifted; and while a previous swimming hole might be a bed of gravel, three new ones opened up, making it feel as if an entirely new stream had been born of such fury.
How one small, non-living entity could spawn so much life in and among its banks fascinated me as a child and continues to do so today. In fact, it's my deep fascination with ecology that makes teaching non-science majors so exciting to me! I love biology, but just as importantly I love exploring biology through the fresh eyes of new students. I've designed my non-majors courses (and even my majors courses) around exploring current case studies and issues in the news media - things that are both familiar to and important to students. We use these as catalysts to dive into the science behind those issues - really dissect them from a scientific standpoint. I feel students learn much more effectively when they can attach a personal connection to a subject - and they have so much fun with the process that sometimes they're amazed they were actually building "scientific foundations" along the way! If you really love science, or even if you think you really hate science - you're my kind of student.
And about those "sucky" trees - scientifically we call that "canopy transpiration"!