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Teaching Statement

My first teaching experience was a lecture I gave on Fossils and Evolution to my cousin Frank's 8th grade class at St Juliana Elementary School in Chicago. I was in 7th grade. I have been teaching students about the Earth ever since and have been helping the general public to visualize how the Earth has changed and evolved through time.  My experience and influence as a teacher can be divided into 5 areas: 1) courses taught and developed, 2) students supervised, 3) teaching materials, 4) public education, and 5) the PALEOMAP Project website.

Courses Taught
I teach a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, (e.g., Earth History, Dinosauria, Global Environmental Issues, Basin Analysis, GIS, Global Tectonics, to name a few). Though large lecture courses are unavoidable, I prefer to teach course where students can learn by "doing", rather than by listening. In my smaller courses students are assigned projects involving research, report writing, and summary presentations. I also believe that it is important to incorporate computer use and technology whenever possible. All of my graduate courses require students not only to use computers, but to write computer programs (Visual Basic) in order to solve problems.
In addition to courses taught at the University, I have taught short courses for other University instructors through the Geological Society of America and have offered 1-day in-service teacher training classes (high school and middle school levels), Region 10 headquarters in Plano, Texas. The goal of these teacher training classes has been to provide instructors with ideas, materials, and computer techniques to help tell the exciting story of the Earth and how it works.

I have advised over 15 graduate students and five students have received Master's degrees under my supervision. Two of these students work for the oil industry, one student is a Research Scientist in academia, another student went on for a Ph.D. and is now a full-time GIS consultant, and the most recent graduate student plans to go on for a Ph.d. I am currently advising 5 students, and am the principal supervisor of 3 of these students. I have been the advisor to the departmental Geology Club, have participated in the University mentor program, and have advised special summer program students.

Teaching Materials
As part of my research work, in order to visualize the history and development of the Earth through time, I have produced numerous maps and computer animations. Earth Science teachers , both at the high school and university level, have found these maps and animations useful for teaching.. I have published these teaching tools in a variety of formats including: computer software, animations on CD-ROM, VHS narrated video tapes, 35mm slide sets, color Atlases, 4 inch paleo-globes, and the ever popular continental drift "flip book".
Because my maps accurately present colorful images of the ancient Earth, they have been adopted for use in many introductory Earth Science textbooks. The maps and animations have also been included on the companion CD-ROM's that often accompany these textbooks.

Public Education
Because of the interest in my maps and animations, I have been able to make a unique contribution in the area of public education. My work has been featured on PBS documentaries, is on permanent exhibit at over 50 museums including the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution, and has appeared numerous times in the popular press (Scientific American, Discover magazine, and National Geographic). I am the chief plate tectonic consultant for National Geographic and my maps appear in several recent issues (May '98, Feb. '00, Aug. '00, Sept. '00, May '01).

PALEOMAP website
As technology changes the way we teach must change. The Internet is now a major medium of education - reaching millions of students, at all levels, worldwide. I have been fortunate that the visual teaching materials that I have developed as part of my research are ideally suited for presentation on the Internet. At the PALEOMAP Project website (, I explain how plate tectonic and paleogeographic research is done and tell the fascinating story of the Earth's evolution through a series of colorful maps and dynamic animations. Each week I receive favorable comments about the website and questions about Earth history from visitors of all ages.,
Since its inception in March, 1998 the PALEOMAP website has had over 17 million visits, and is now linked to over 450 Earth Science sites. Many of these sites are university websites that supplement ongoing Earth Science curriculum. The PALEOMAP website was awarded a SciLinks certificate by the National Science Teachers Association, and in 2001 was chosen as one of the best 50 Science and Technology websites by the editors of Scientific American. I am proud that the PALEOMAP website is educating and informing millions of visitors, and is part of the expanding knowledge base of the world wide web.

Teaching Summary 1990 - 2001

Courses Taught: Undergraduate 12, Graduate 7
Students Supervised: Advised 20, Principal Supervisor 5
Short Courses & Teacher Workshops 15
Commercial Software 16
Published Animations 51
Museum Exhibits 53
Links to PALEOMAP website >450
Hits to PALEOMAP website 10/01 >17,000,000