I am passionate about ecology and the environment. This enthusiasm stems from excellent undergraduate coursework, research opportunities, and experiences in internships, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow. I use this passion to create a stimulating and energetic atmosphere in the classroom, field, and laboratory. It is my belief that science educators should create opportunities for students to learn by participating in scientific inquiry and through research and service experiences.
My goal as an educator is to foster engaging and interactive learning experiences for students to enhance their understanding of the myriad ways their well-being and actions are connected to the environment.
Courses taught or co-taught
This course is designed to give you an appreciation of the interactions between the ecological, economic, and social spheres that govern our management of natural resources and the quality and quantity of ecosystem services natural systems provide. By the end of this course, you will have a better understanding of system structure and regulation at the organismal, population, community, and ecosystem levels. This background will provide you with the tools needed to evaluate environmental problems confronting society, so you will have a better understanding of how to protect and manage ecosystems for future generations. In this class, we will discuss a variety of ecological, environmentally-centered public policies, and cultural perceptions toward the environment to better appreciate environmental challenges threatening the sustainable future of humankind. To this end, we will discuss the quality of air, water, and soil resources. We will also consider human population growth, environmental change, environmental justice and environmental ethics, among other topics. We will examine current environmental issues, both within Georgia and throughout the globe, to reinforce the relevance of the material being studied. Please click here for course information.
The world is becoming more and more urbanized; over 80% of the US population and 50% of the world’s population living in cities. This course will use a socio-ecological framework to study how urbanization influences biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the provisioning of ecosystem services to human populations. We will study the effects of urbanization among regions with variable climate, time since human settlement, and socio-economic conditions. Key topics we will consider include biodiversity and the management of plant and animal populations, biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem metabolism, and human population growth, development trajectories, and environmental justice. Students will be responsible for mastering both biophysical and social science concepts in this course. We will consider global, regional, and local urban issues, using lectures, activities using primary scientific literature, and through student oral and written reports.
The course includes a service-learning project during the semester that either employs skills or knowledge learned in the course or teaches new skills or knowledge related to course objectives. Student engagement in the service-learning component will be up to 25% of overall instruction time.
Ecosystem structure and function with emphasis on energetic and biogeochemical processes in natural and managed ecosystems, from local to global scales. This course is typically taught by Dr. Nina Wurzburger.
This course will provide an introduction to the practice of Ecology as a basic science for graduate students. You will be immersed in discussions, exercises and activities that will force you to think about ecological questions and concepts from multiple perspectives, across scales and levels of organization. This will not be a survey of Ecology, but rather an opportunity to become more comfortable and facile addressing challenging questions in Ecology. Please click here for more information.
Teaching Resources for Books
Stream Ecology: Structure and Function of Running Waters (Allan, Castillo, and Capps 2021) is designed to serve as a textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and as a reference source for specialists in stream ecology and related fields. My goal is to create some teaching resources associated with the book by January or February 2023.
Additional Teaching Resources
This a one-semester reading curriculum on racism and antiracism in STEM for members of our lab and others. It is subject to change, but you can access our proposed list of readings and other resources here. The primary book we will be discussing is How to Be an Antiracist, by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. I have also designed a reading/listening/watching list for people joining our lab. You will note that it incorporates many of the documents from the previously described curriculum. The list can be accessed here. It is apt to change, but I have also designed a more formal list of readings and activities for people joining our lab. If it is of interest, you can access the list here.
If you are interested in learning more about animals in urban streams and how community science can be used to support the assessment of urban stream biota, please visit this link. We have developed educational materials that may be of use to you! Initiated by a project through the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Tamara Johnson, representatives from USFWS, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and the Capps Lab at the University of Georgia have worked together to develop educational materials for community science groups.
Resources from Workshops Organized by the Lab
As part of two National Science Foundation (NSF) Projects (1, 2), I am developing a semester-long workshop to support the professional development of graduate students in ecology and environmental science. Using the grant review process at NSF as a model, students will spend the semester developing their own projects, supporting colleagues through peer-review, and learning about funding opportunities and the process of funding through the federal government and other organizations. More information will be posted soon.
We received funding from the University of Georgia to build a new sensor network in the Oconee Watershed to support student learning with new technology. To support the development of the network, we conducted a one-day workshop to begin training graduate students at UGA to program and build the sensors. This workshop was designed, organized, and led by Chris Dutton from Yale University, and Stephanie Fulton and John Dowd from the University of Georgia. Please click here for more information about the workshop.
In conjunction with graduate students at the University of Georgia, I am developing a curriculum to support training in stream ecology and freshwater conservation for high school students as part of two National Science Foundation Projects (1, 2). Additional information about the curriculum will be posted here in December of 2021.