My life is enriched by understanding the processes behind what we observe in the natural world. I strive to share that enrichment with others.
My efforts in teaching and mentoring work to ensure that I give voice to the inspiring young minds that come to my classroom, research group, department, university and local community.I want to propel the next generation by acknowledging that their unique perspectives have the potential to drive innovation and more effectively connect scientific research to our diverse communities—locally, nationally and internationally.
We are all guided by the sum of our individual experiences, influenced by where we live, our cultural background, the privileges we do or do not benefit from, and countless other factors. What are my own privileges and narrow perspectives causing me to overlook? I have been incredibly fortunate to have family and societal support throughout my life, propelling me towards my goals with few barriers. What are we missing by not including underrepresented voices in science? What approaches, like dialogic learning, can help build more equitable and enriching learning environments? I actively work to encourage and promote all talented, dedicated individuals in order to play a part in producing fully representative perspectives in geoscience, through which I am certain that we will gain better understanding of our world.
I engage students with my active interests in earth and environmental science, incorporating recent research and interesting results into traditional lectures on topics ranging from introductory geology, the science of climate change, atmospheric chemistry, stable-isotope geochemistry, glaciology, GIS, climate dynamics, and ice-climate interactions.
Active learning and the two-way sharing of knowledge are foundational to my teaching. My research is enriched by the questions, perspectives and efforts brought to the classroom by my students. An early mentor emphasized that my contribution to our research group was to be respected equally to that of more senior group members. This is empowering, and brings out enthusiasm, creativity and leads to greater personal investment in research.
Students also need to generate their own geoscience data. Water-stable isotope analysis, including for ice cores, uses plug-and-play optical cavity-ringdown instruments. Their accessibility allows students to engage with principles of field sampling, analytical chemistry, and stable isotope geochemistry.
Snowstorms can be used as case-studies: sample snow during events such as winter storm Stella of March 11-14, 2017, generate Lagrangian airmass trajectories tracing the storm path (see figure at right), calculate possible expected stable-isotope values based on Rayleigh distillation or isotope-enabled model output (ECHAM), then compare to measurements.
Photo of Peter courtesy Scott Butner.