Teaching

Effective teaching can change students’ lives and as conservation biologists, we are afforded a unique opportunity to synergistically merge our teaching and research in a manner that emphasizes experiential learning. We are uniquely qualified to use the scientific method as a framework to cultivate critical thinking and problem solving skills. As science teachers, it is our responsibility to expose a diverse student body to the natural world in a way that is interesting and engaging, with the hope that students will develop the ability to ask critical questions and gain the technical skills they need to answer them.
The Following are courses I have designed and taught:
Life on the Wing: Biological and Scientific Lessons with Birds (undergraduate course)
Did you know a tiny bird that weighs only as much as two nickels (U.S. 5-cent coins) can fly without stopping for three straight days and cover a distance equal to that from Mount Holyoke College to South America? For this class we will explore foundational biological concepts by examining the wonderful world of birds. This course will take advantage of the diverse bird communities in our own back yard and will meet outside as much as possible for labs examining topics such as biodiversity, structure and function, ecology, evolution, hypothesis testing, and observation.
Learning Objectives:
  • Develop basic scientific literacy and skills. We will use the Scientific Method as a basis of inquiry to explore the natural world around us.

  • Use ornithology to begin inquiries into evolution, structure and function, animal movement, population dynamics, behavior, conservation biology and other basic biological topics.

  • We will discuss and develop skills to communicate science. We will use writing and oral presentation skills thinking about the potential for a wide variety of audiences.

  • Allow students to discover, explore, think critically and problem solve without specific direction from the instructor.

Landscape Ecology (undergraduate course)
Landscape ecology is the intersection between geography, ecology and spatial analysis. We will explore the spatial patterns of ecological processes. Where do patterns originate? Why do these patterns and processes matter and how do they change over time? We will apply these inquiries to discover, for example, whether or not there are sufficient habitat corridors on the landscape to allow for the northward shift of bird distributions given climate change. Topics will be explored in this course through short lectures, discussions of research papers and through project-based activities analyzing data using state-of-the-art landscape analysis software.
 
Learning objectives:
  • Gain broad understanding of 1) the methods for detecting and characterizing landscape pattern; 2) the causes of landscape pattern, 3) landscape dynamics; and 4) the strategies by which humans manage landscapes.

  • Work and learn in an interdisciplinary environment; specifically, to develop problem-solving skills in an interdisciplinary team environment.

  • Engage in active, student-directed learning in preparation for professional life.

  • Refine oral communication skills.

Current Research in Environmental Conservation: Communicating Science (graduate course)
Students use their own graduate focus to enhance their communication skills by learning to clearly convey their work to peers, the general public, stakeholders and others. Specifically, we cover:
  • Elevator pitches
  • Graphic abstracts
  • Lightening presentations (3 min.)
 
Students will also learn how to effectively convey their interests and experience for professional development by covering:
  • Job searches
  • Identifying skills to obtain to land a "dream job"
  • Cover letter writing
  • CV / resume development
Students use their own graduate focus to enhance their communication skills by learning to clearly convey their work to peers, the general public, stakeholders and others. Specifically, we cover:
  • Elevator pitches
  • Graphic abstracts
  • Lightening presentations (3 min.)
 
Students will also learn how to effectively convey their interests and experience for professional development by covering:
  • Job searches
  • Identifying skills to obtain to land a "dream job"
  • Cover letter writing
  • CV / resume development
Species Distribution Models: Opportunities and Application (graduate course)

Species distribution models (SDMs) are models that relate species distribution data with spatial characteristics of those locations. SDMs are also commonly used tools for predicting species response to global change, including impending shifts in climate and land use. This course introduces students to the conceptualization, technical aspects, and application of SDMs.

 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the basic concepts of developing and interpreting SDMs.

  • Explore the use of SDMs for the management and conservation of natural resources.

  • Gain an understanding of the evaluation process, or lack thereof, for SDMs in time and space.

Ecology & Conservation of Migratory Species (undergraduate course)

Migration is an essential life history strategy for a diverse group of species; from whales to butterflies, songbirds to wildebeests, and bats to fish. Many of these species are experiencing significant population declines and their complex life cycles pose novel conservation challenges. We explore the conservation and full life-cycle ecology of these amazing animals and include discussions on new technological advances that have led to exciting discoveries in this growing field.

 

Learning Objectives:

  • Provide students with the basic concepts of migration as a life history strategy across taxa.

  • Discuss challenges to conserving migratory species.

  • Provide a basic understanding of the methodology of tracking migratory animals throughout the annual cycle.

  • Encourage students to think critically and engage in classroom discussions

Hierarchical Models of Animal Occurrence, Abundance & Survival (graduate course)

In this course we describe and apply models of animal occurrence, abundance, and survival in a hierarchical modeling framework.  Both single- and multi-season occupancy models with ecological- and detection-process covariates will be covered. Abundance models will include binomial-mixture models and multinomial-mixture models such as distance sampling, removal models, double-observer, etc. These models have a unified structure in that they explicitly model the ecological process of interest while accounting for the process affecting detection probability. Students are encouraged to bring datasets to analyze, though data will also be provided. We use the R package unmarked to implement these models, though no experience with either program is required. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Teach students to implement & interpret hierarchical models to estimate wildlife abundance and occupancy with imperfect detection probabilities.

  • Provide students with the conceptual understanding of various hierarchical models as well as the ability to implement hierarchical models in program R.

Migrating Birds Across the Rift Valley Flyway: Promoting International Collaboration & Conservation

​In this professional course located in Azraq, Jordan, we focused on the challenges of conserving migratory species that range widely across international boarders and addressed several basic components of developing applied ecological research.

 

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss how the goals and objectives of data collection relate to selecting appropriate monitoring protocols.

  • Explore the challenges to standardizing monitoring protocols and data collection, discuss solutions to these challenges.

  • Examine how standardizing research procedures and methodology ensures that data collection is credible, can be replicated over time, and collected in a manner that facilitates sharing data across boundaries.

  • Identify strategies for involving local communities and engaging schools and youth groups.

  • Share current monitoring activities and projects between partner organizations along the flyway and identify linkages.

Elementary School and Public Outreach

I take advantage of every opportunity to engage the next generation of scientists with hopes of igniting a spark that will continue to grow throughout their education. As wildlife biologist, we have a unique opportunity to connect children with nature.

​Teaching Assistantships
Introduction to Biology I & II
Ecology

William V. DeLuca, Ph.D.

Research Fellow, Adjunct Assistant Professor

Department of Environmental Conservation

University of Massachusetts

Northeast Climate Science Center

wdeluca (at) eco.umass.edu

This site was designed with the
.com
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now