My primary research question at the moment is: how do
people learn about the natural world? I’m studying the effectiveness
of different kinds of learning activities, such as listening to lecture,
doing hands-on science, and taking quizzes. I’m particularly
interested in learning what effect prior knowledge and experience with
nature have on classroom learning.
I also analyze past vegetation changes using fossil pollen and charcoal
from lake sediments. At the moment, I am interested in the response
of vegetation at the prairie-forest border to climate and to fire frequency. Diatom
(algae) remains are often preserved in the same sediment, and these provide
an excellent record of changes in lake chemistry.