Menschel fellow Jed Sparks aims to energize field study

Fiona Soper, Kaiya Provost, and Harry Greene

From left: Fiona Soper Ph.D. '16, a postdoctoral research associate in Jed Sparks' lab, Sparks and Kaiya Provost '14, in Arizona in the Chiricahua Mountains, taking part in the course, Deserts, Snakes and Mentorship in the Field, which Sparks co-taught with herpetologist Harry Greene in 2014.

September 1, 2016

Ecology and evolutionary biology professor Jed Sparks’ passion for teaching comes from seeing his students engage with the material. And there is no better way to engage them than getting them out in the field, he says.

As Cornell’s 2016-17 Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellow, Sparks, who directs the Cornell Isotope Laboratory (COIL), will develop a handbook for field teaching this year. The fellowship, funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in connection with the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), engages a distinguished faculty member in promoting the teaching mission of the university and carries a $10,000 stipend.

“As our Menschel fellow, Professor Sparks will help the center provide programming that is valued by our faculty and helps to enhance student learning at Cornell,” said Theresa Pettit, director of CTE. “He is a very creative teacher and he is committed to providing students with meaningful learning experiences.”

“The evidence is really clear that 100 percent engagement is what drives retention, and so I strive to do that more at every level,” said Sparks, a former director of the Office of Undergraduate Biology. “I love to teach in the field because students easily become engaged.”

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