My goals are to introduce and teach students about how physics affects the earth
surface system. I try to reach both science students and non-science students with my teaching
because everyone has the ability to learn and few people are unlikely to benefit from knowing
just a little more about how the world works. The important skills that I want my students
to gain include the ability to think critically and to recognize the fundamental questions
of any environmental or scientific problem. Once the individual pieces of a problem are
identified, solutions are much easier to find. I ask my students to identify and address
their preconceptions and biases as they develop questions and collect data to answer them.
At all levels, learners learn best when they are interested in the answer to a question.
The trick as a teacher is to find questions that interest the students and at the same time
are filled with teacheable material.
I am interested in the physical interactions and exchange of momentum, energy, and
matter between water bodies and the substances around them (land and the atmosphere). Most
of this interaction occurs in boundary layers and involves processes that occur on small
space and time scales. What makes this work intersting is that these rapid, small-spatial
scale processes have important effects on large scale dynamics. My research focuses on
turbulence dynamics and optical properties of the coastal and surface ocean. Turbulence
transports things in the ocean--heat, momentum, salt, dissolved gases, particles, nutrients.
Optics determine how visible light is absorbed in the upper tens to few hundreds of meters
in the ocean. The interaction of turbulent transport and penetrating radiation has important
effects on the density structure of the upper ocean and in coastal regions. In turn, this affects how the ocean communicates with the atmosphere and with ocean margins. Understanding these processes is vital to incorporating them properly in numerical models that predict everything from the likely path spilled oil to the effects of rising temperatures on ocean circulation.