[ Teaching Philosophy ][ Teaching Experience ] [ Other Geology Courses ] [ Other Interdisciplinary Courses ]

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy can be broadly described as a process-based approach to geologic principles. I like to use geomorphic and sedimentologic processes to explore the stratigraphic record and landforms. I lecture primarily at the board, deriving fundamental equations that govern the evolution of Earth’s landscapes. While teaching lab courses I like to provide ample interactive, physical examples of the topics and processes being explored. I am currently designing a process sedimentology/fluvial geomorphology course that integrates stream table and sandbox experiments into the traditional lecture/lab layout to prompt coupled learning of fluvial processes and their expression in the rock record.

I value diversity in science and am committed to the mentorship and advancement of underrepresented groups in the geosciences.

Teaching Experience

HYD 562/GEOL 562: Fluvial Geomorphology

Instructor of Record

Rivers are one of the primary sculptors of Earth’s landscape and exert a primary geomorphic influence in nearly every tectonic environment, climatic zone, and geographic location. Worldwide, rivers and streams make up dense, interconnected conveyor belts for the products of physical and chemical weathering. Additionally, fluvial sediments make up a large proportion of the rock record, and are one of the principal records from which terrestrial paleoclimate and paleotectonic records are constructed. This course investigates the dynamics of rivers on grain, reach, and landscape scales. Syllabus: Syllabus_ FluvialGeomorph_Spring2018

GLG101/GLG103 Online: Introduction to Geology Lecture and Lab Online

Teaching Assistant

GLG101/103 Online are two, 8-week long online courses designed for major and non-major students. These courses average approximately 500 students per semester, with a majority of students completing their degree completely online. As a full time TA of this course, I was solely responsible for communicating with students via email daily about questions they had regarding course material, grades received, and technical issues. Weekly duties in addition to student communications included: grading concept sketches (GLG101) and laboratory reports (GLG103).

Student feedback via course evaluations was not provided to online TAs.

GLG103: Introduction to Geology Lab

Teaching Assistant

GLG103 is an introductory geology laboratory class designed for non-majors. As an instructor, I led weekly exercises aimed to teach students how to read topographic and geologic maps, identify rock and mineral samples, and construct geologic histories using fundamental geologic principles. My weekly duties (in addition to lecture) included: designing weekly quizzes, grading laboratory reports, and holding office hours to provide extra assistance to my students.

[ Student Feedback ]

The Confluence of Rivers and Civilization

Instructor of Record

I designed this course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program that provides a diverse set of courses to people 50 years of age and older in the Phoenix community.

This course examines the intersection of geology and civilization through the lens of river systems. The geologic mechanics of rivers as well as their impact on civilization (or vice versa) are explored by focusing on numerous rivers around the world. From ancient civilizations in the Middle East to 20th century dam building in the Southwestern United States to the future sustainability of river systems around the world, this course is designed to critically assess mankind’s relationship with water through time.

[ Student Feedback ]

Other Geology Courses

In addition to the above mentioned courses, I am prepared to teach classes on Geomorphology, Fluid Mechanics, Numerical Methods, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, and Advanced Experimental Methods.

Other Interdisciplinary Courses

Conveying the intersection of human life and geology remains a distinct passion of mine. As such, I enjoy creating classes that explore this intersection through various lenses. The above course, The Confluence of Rivers and Civilization, is a perfect example. In addition to that course, I am working on designing a couple other interdisciplinary courses:

Science and Improv: Exploring the Unknown — The basic tenants of improv comedy provide unique tools for scientific inquiry.  Improv revolves around the concept of walking on stage, into the unknown, and building a world through observation and communication with your scene partner. Ideas and concepts are constantly evolving and as improv-ers we are constantly adjusting and exploring. It is this flexibility and willingness to explore, despite the fear and possibility of failure, that applies so well to science. This seminar-style course is aimed at senior undergraduate students and first or second year graduate students. Students will learn the basics of improv comedy, perform with one another weekly, and have weekly discussions of how concepts apply to science. In exploring scientific ideals through improv, students will develop a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a scientist. Additionally, students will develop communication and teamwork skills that are integral to both improv and collaborative science.

Geoscience as Art — This course is designed as a two semester senior capstone for ~20 geology and art majors. Scientists often struggle at presenting data in a way in which the general public will readily understand. Although this is a pitfall across scientific disciplines, it is particularly problematic in geosciences because so much of our research impacts human lives directly. This two semester long course is aimed at getting art and geology majors to collaborate and create an artistic, understandable, and accurate representation of real scientific data.

This first semester will focus on giving each student the skills to design and create aesthetically pleasing and clear infographics. Through weekly labs, students will gain experience with Adobe Creative Cloud, ArcGIS, various audio producing softwares, and web design. The second semester, the class will be divided into 5 groups of 4 students (2 geology and 2 art majors). Each group will be assigned a “geologic data set” that they will then spend the semester researching and generating an informational piece of their choice. Informational pieces could include, but are not limited to: interactive online infographics, an multi-layered informational website, a podcast mini-series, an art installation, etc. Some examples of geologic data sets include: earthquake hazards along the San Andreas Fault, volcanic hazards of the Pacific Northwest, the impact of climate change on the American Southwest, waste-water injection hazards, etc. Each group will be provided some key scientific papers and resources to begin their research but will be responsible for digging deeper. The class will meet once a week, seminar style, to discuss key factors of each groups geologic data set and brainstorm as a whole class ways in which each group could present their data. At the end of the semester, each group will present their end product to the student body.

Geo-Religiosities — this course explores the history of geology in the context of religious myths and philosophies. How did civilizations view geologic features and processes such as annual floods, mountains, and volcanic eruptions prior to the advent of geology and modern scientific thought? In what way do religious philosophies impact how humans interact with the earth both in modern and ancient times? This course will focus on numerous religious traditions/philosophies and their relationship to geology including, but not limited to: Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, ancient and current North American indigenous religions, and ancient Egyptian religious traditions.


All images and text on this site © 2016 Kate Leary