My research focuses in two areas, 1) population and community ecology, and 2) biology education. Students in my laboratory may focus their research in either of these areas, and can even draw captivating connections between the two areas!
First, I am broadly interested in how individual animals in a population interact with one another, how communities of organisms interact, and how each of these levels of biological organization interact with their abiotic environment. In particular, I seek to understand how organisms communicate inter- and intraspecifically, and how changes in their habitat (whether natural or anthropogenic) can influence how they communicate. I am also interested in the co-evolution of microbes and animals, with particular interest in how microbial symbionts can influence the evolution of behavior. I find the use of insect models ideal for the questions that drive my investigations, and thus students who work in my lab will have the opportunity to experience research in the laboratory and in the field. I maintain research investigations at four main field sites which include two sites in Oklahoma, an island field station in New Zealand, and right here at the field sites on campus. The techniques used in my lab draw from the fields of bioacoustics, classic ethology, field ecology, spatial modelling, and microbiology.
Second, my explorations in biology education are allowing me to explore, in a multivariate way, how mixed-model teaching practices affect student learning and satisfaction in large introductory biology classes. Additionally, STEM educators across the country and across institutions and agencies recognize that for the United States to gain lost ground in scientific discovery and technological advances, we must begin focusing on training all of our citizens to think critically and to become scientifically literate. To that end, I am interested in teaching methods that work most effectively to remove biases against learning about science in general, and biology in particular. How can we approach the teaching of biology in a way that appeals to non-majors, underrepresented minorities, and reluctant learners? How can we foster an interest in the biological sciences in a way that is accessible, credible, and without sacrificing rigor and depth-of-content, so that more people consider science important, and decide to make scientific advancement a national priority? To address these issues, my pedagogical research is focused across three main themes:
How empirically validated teaching practices translate into scientific knowledge, scientific and critical thinking, and retention in the biology major during the introductory and early years of undergraduate training.
How involvement in project-based learning and early research experiences improve scientific thinking skills and retention in biology majors, and especially in students who affiliate with minority groups.
How longitudinal mentorship and financial support improves retention of minority pre-service and early career secondary science teachers who teach in high-needs schools.
And, from the perspective of the faculty, why do we choose to either change or maintain our teaching methods, and what factors motivate faculty to explore innovative and inquiry-based teaching strategies?
Ph.D., Biological Science, Idaho State University
M.S., Biochemistry, Univ of Tulsa
B.S., Biology and Chemistry, Univ of Tulsa
A.A., Allied Health Sciences, Community College of the Air Force
BIOL 412: Honors/IntroBioEvolBiodivEcol
BIOL 675: Medical Botany
BIOL 999: Doctoral Dissertation Research
LSA 900: College Teaching
Howard, D. R., & Hall, C. L. (2019). Examining the Management of Rare Insects Through the Lens of Biotic Interactions: A Comparative Case Study of Nicrophorus americanus (Coleoptera: Silphidae) and Gryllotalpa major (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 112(3), 158-168. doi:10.1093/aesa/saz008
Howard, D. R., Schmidt, A. P., Hall, C. L., & Mason, A. C. (2018). Substrate-Borne Vibration Mediates Intrasexual Agonism in the New Zealand Cook Strait Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa). Journal of Insect Behavior, 31(6), 599-615. doi:10.1007/s10905-018-9700-2
Howard, D. R., Lee, N., & Hall, C. L. (2018). Making high-stakes decisions in complex acoustic environments: Revisiting the Cocktail Party problem in a multimodal sensory context. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143(3), 1859. doi:10.1121/1.5036103
Hall, C. L., & Howard, D. (2018). Shaking it up in the classroom: Coupling biotremology and active learning pedagogy to promote authentic discovery. In P. Hill, R. Lakes-Harlan, & V. Mazzoni (Eds.), Biotremology – Studying Vibrational Behavior (Vol. 2). Springer.
Woelber, B. K., Hall, C. L., & Howard, D. R. (2018). Environmental cues influence parental brood structure decisions in the burying beetle Nicrophorus marginatus. Journal of Ethology, 36(1), 55-64. doi:10.1007/s10164-017-0527-7
Larsen, K., Hall, C. L., & Howard, D. R. (2016). Entomology at Small Liberal Arts Colleges. American Entomologist, 62(2), 108-109. doi:10.1093/ae/tmw025
Howard, D. R. (2016). There and Back Again: Fostering Undergraduate Research in Insect Biology Within a Study-Abroad Framework. American Entomologist, 62(2), 114-116. doi:10.1093/ae/tmw043
Hall, C. L., Howard, D. R., Smith, R. J., & Mason, A. C. (2015). Marking by elytral clip changes stridulatory characteristics and reduces reproduction in the American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus. Journal of Insect Conservation, 19(1), 155-162. doi:10.1007/s10841-015-9755-8
Hall, C. L., Mason, A. C., Howard, D. R., Padhi, A., & Smith, R. J. (2013). Description of Acoustic Characters and Stridulatory <I>Pars Stridens</I> of <I>Nicrophorus</I> (Coleoptera: Silphidae): A Comparison of Eight North American Species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 106(5), 661-669. doi:10.1603/an13001
Hall, C. L., Wadsworth, N. K., Howard, D. R., Jennings, E. M., Farrell, L. D., Magnuson, T. S., & Smith, R. J. (2011). Inhibition of Microorganisms on a Carrion Breeding Resource: The Antimicrobial Peptide Activity of Burying Beetle (Coleoptera: Silphidae) Oral and Anal Secretions. Environmental Entomology, 40(3), 669-678. doi:10.1603/en10137