About Me

IMG_8481-2In the summer of 2019, I began serving as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State.  Prior to this, I was a Teaching Professor and the Associate Department Head for the Undergraduate Program in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Penn State University Park campus in State College, PA.

I have a wide variety of interests in teaching, research, and outreach, and have tried to capture many of them here.

Teaching:

  • I have taught face-to-face and on-line sections of Astronomy 1:  Astronomical Universe for University Park and World Campus students.  This is a one-semester survey of astronomy that covers all of astronomy in 15 weeks.  I co-authored the “storyline” web version of Astro 1 with my colleagues Jane Charlton, Nahks Tr’Ehnl, Kim Herrmann, and Anand Narayan.  I also teach Astro 5:  The Sky & Planets for University Park students in face-to-face sections, which is our version of the first half of a two-semester survey of astronomy.
  • I created and teach Astronomy 401:  Fundamentals of Planetary Science and Astronomy, which is one of the required capstone courses in the Planetary Science and Astronomy major at Penn State, which began taking students in 2013.
  • I co-created and co-taught, with Julia Plummer, the course Astronomy / Science Education 116:  Introduction to Astronomy for Educators.  This is an astronomy content course taught in a small group setting for pre-service teachers in the PreK – 4 and Middle Level (grades 4 – 8) CEAED major.
  • I authored and taught the required course Astronomy 801:  Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe for World Campus students enrolled in the on-line Masters of Education in Earth Science program.
  • I have previously taught and authored on-line versions of several other introductory astronomy courses and lab sections, including Astronomy 10:  Elementary Astronomy and Astronomy 11:  Elementary Astronomy Laboratory.   Julia Kregenow and I are working with Stephanie and Tim Slater and the CAPER team on a new lab manual for Astronomy 11 that incorporates labs designed with a backwards faded scaffolding approach.  We participate in professional development workshops for faculty interested in adopting these labs in their own astronomy courses.

Teacher Professional Development:

  • I was a co-Principal Investigator for the recently completed National Science Foundation Earth and Space Science Partnership (ESSP) at Penn State.   We worked with a number of school districts across Pennsylvania to improve the quality of instruction and student learning in Earth and Space Science in the middle grades (4 – 9).
  • I am a member and former officer for the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher’s Association (PAESTA), and present on astronomy pedagogy at their annual meeting.
  • I have been the Director of the Penn State In-Service Workshops in Astronomy since 2002. In a long-term partnership with the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, we have offered 1 – 3 workshops every summer primarily for middle-school and high-school teachers.  We have received significant funding from NASA’s Chandra and Hubble Education and Public Outreach programs to support teachers to participate in these workshops.

Outreach:

Research:

 


We use Attila Danko’s Clear Sky Chart to help us plan for the observing conditions at the observatory on the roof of Davey Lab. I highly recommend it for predicting observing conditions in the State College area.