My courses

  • Animal Physiology
  • Physics of Life
  • Other teaching links

  • iTunesU
  • TED
  • Blackboard
  • Teaching in the Waterber

    A field lecture in my Deserts of Southern Africa course. Here, we're in a mopane woodland near the Waterberg plateau in northern Namibia. We're doing an impromptu lecture on the role of termite colonies as soil builders in arid environments.

    Photo by Barry Lovegrove


    I teach at the interface of physiology, ecology and evolution. In the box to the right are links to the principal courses I teach each year: Animal Physiology, and Physics of Life. Others I teach as needs or interests arise.

    I'm very much a traditional teacher. I believe we have known for more than two millennia how to teach effectively, and little has come along in the interim that much improves things. I use the blackboard (also Blackboard!) a lot, even though my chalkmanship and artistic skills are atrocious.

    Nevertheless, I have tried to keep up with the times: quite a lot of my course content is video and multimedia productions, produced with the help of our very talented Instructional Technology staff. You can see them on the SUNYESFTV YouTube channel or through iTunes on ESF's site in iTunesU. You can get to links to them all by navigating to my "media" page.

    In the classroom, I'm not a showman, nor do I pretend to be. I prefer to engage minds, not to distract or entertain them. I prefer my classes to be conversations about biology, so I ask lots of questions and expect lots of questions in return. Some of the most fun we have in class come from digressions prompted by an interesting question from a student.

    I think education is about gaining wisdom and knowledge rather than earning grades or points on tests. I rely on students to share this ideal, and I am rarely let down. I hate giving examinations and grades, but if I must give them, I make them rigorous and demanding.