Timeline of Life on Earth Activity

There is a healthy tradition of making timelines of the history of life on earth as a a classroom activity, and I have been wanting to do this for a long time. There is also good evidence that active learning improves student learning outcomes in all STEM fields.

The Earth is 4.54 billion years old (Ga), and life on earth was microbial for almost all of this time. Viruses also had their origins in the RNA world that precluded the evolution of cellular life, meaning that even before “true” life was formed, microbes were the sole life forms.

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The Jellybean Diversity Activity

One of the activities that is very common for teaching diversity or microbial diversity is the candy activity. In this activity, a sample community of candy is explored and used (and later, eaten) to make measures of diversity in a simple (and delicious) form. I elected to use jellybeans, since the known diversity would help us do this quickly. In this case, our richness is 49 (if your species definition includes flavor).

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Keep carbon in the ground: a scientific exploration of climate change and soil health

The following is a reproduction of my article, entitled “Keep carbon in the ground: a scientific exploration of climate change and soil health,” which was published in the Ecological Landscape Alliance newsletter in October, 2018.

Soils rich in carbon are healthy soils, but climate change and poor management practices threaten to degrade soil carbon stores and in turn, degrade soils. In this article, I’ll present a brief overview of the current scientific understanding of why keeping carbon in the ground is important, and what factors are most critical in maintaining healthy soils.

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500 Women Scientists in Amherst are ready for 2019!

I’ve been a pod leader for our local 500 Women Scientists group since 2017 (I think), but only recently have we achieved a quorum and are doing some great things! We registered 100 students to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, and assisted with at least a hundred more in finding their polling places and planning to vote.

This year, we’re planning on monthly Third Thursdays for postcard and letter writing, helping to organize the March for Science (scheduled for April 27, 2019), and more. Join us!