David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
I admired those professors who made their subjects come alive. This seemed to depend on having an intimate knowledge of the subject, as well as the ability to present the material in an interesting manner -- often using common everyday examples. I liked practical exercises and fieldwork because I learned best by doing things and applying and testing my knowledge.
My teaching has largely involved questioning interpretations and basic concepts. I try to involve my students in reading the literature and questioning ideas and interpretations rather than accepting them. I also have them do lab exercises and fieldtrips that utilize a hands-on approach. I am never happier than when I am in the field on the rocks with students and colleagues. Important in all teaching is being inspiring and enthusiastic about it. Also, in graduate research one has to be encouraging, caring and thoughtful when guiding a student through a difficult and frustrating part of a research project.
For me, many practical problems make the most interesting and intriguing research projects. Earth science provides an abundance of unique problems. We are often faced with reconstructing phenomena that took place millions of years ago that are not currently taking place in today's world. It is fascinating and challenging to put together a reasonable interpretation of what happened long ago with the limited data preserved in the rock record.