Alina Avanesyan
Among the redwoods -- Muir Woods

Developed an undergraduate course in Invasion Ecology

– April 11, 2020

I’ve finished developing the main outline of my course in Invasion Ecology which I hope to teach some day. This is a semester-long course; I see it as an upper-division undergraduate course but I think it can be easily adapted for a low-division undergraduate course or an elective graduate course.

Invasion ecology is a fascinating area to me: Why do some introduced species become invasive? Why do some introduced species fail to establish? What can we do to learn more about invasive species?, etc. All these questions have been driving my research since my doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati. This course has been my ‘pet’ project since then, and I developed it based on both my own research and teaching experience.

I’ve designed this course to include weekly lectures and laboratories, weekly homework, online quizzes, as well as a mid-term and cumulative final exam. During both lectures and laboratories students would design and conduct experiments, develop and present group projects, participate in short local field trips, write article critiques, analyze case studies, and develop risk assessment protocols. I’d like my future students to gain all this experience and see themselves as scientists in training during that semester.

The course outline with examples of lecture slides, assignments and worksheets are available here. I’m currently exploring online alternatives for experimental laboratories and field trips. I really enjoyed developing this course, and I know I’ll enjoy even more teaching it some day!

Invasive spotted lanternfly, my current primary research object. We know so little about this unusual and one of the most aggressive forest insect pests in the eastern US.