In the Field
Ken Feeley teaches field-based courses in Ecology and Evolution (BIL 432) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, as part of the University of Miami’s UGalapagos semester abroad program for undergraduates (https://ugalapagosfall.as.miami.edu/). In partnership with the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador, the UGalapagos program takes students for a full semester (typically Fall) to South America where they take classes while traveling from the highland Andes, to the lowland Rainforest, to the islands of Galapagos. The program offers a unique opportunity for hands-on research experiences coupled with strong conceptual background in Ecology and Evolution. In Dr. Feeley’s course, students learn about the fascinating ecology and evolution of Galapagos’ unique flora and fauna, and the conservation issues that threaten the islands. The course includes a mix of lectures, discussions field trips and independent research projects.
In addition to UGalapgos, Dr. Feeley works on numerous field courses and workshops. In particular, Dr. Feeley partners with the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (http://www.aceer.org/) to design and teach courses in Madre de Dios, Peru, for local middle and high school science teachers.
Dr. Feeley and his graduate students are also very active in The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s environmental education and outreach program, the Fairchild Challenge (https://www.fairchildgarden.org/education/the-fairchild-challenge). Dr. Feeley and his students have helped to design and run several different challenge activities (for example, “Lizards on the Loose”; http://www.jameststroud.com/lizardsontheloose--fairchild-challenge.html). They also serve as mentors in the Fairchild Garden’s Environmental Immersion Day activities.
In the Classroom
Ken Feeley teaches a variety of biology and ecology courses for at the University of Miami. Currently, his teaching at UM rotates between three courses:
BIL 160 — Evolution and Biodiversity
A large lecture course for undergraduate biology majors
BIL 163 — HHMI Integrated Biology and Chemistry
A smaller course for freshman that focuses on getting students to conduct independent hypothesis-driven research projects
BIL 612 — Ecology and Evolution Core
A small seminar class for first-year graduate students
Despite their differences in size, content, and format, all of these courses are designed around the principle that students need to be actively engaged with the course topics and understand the application of the course content to their everyday lives. This is emphasized in Dr. Feeley’s lectures that focus on the real-world applications of topics and is reinforced through Dr. Feeley’s use of various participatory activities such as readings from the primary literature, class "debates", and break out discussions.
Graduate Student Mentoring
Dr. Feeley maintains a very active and diverse team of graduate students. Students take a lead role in both designing and implementing their research projects. Students are encouraged to explore their own interests within the general context of tropical ecology and conservation, and work on a range of questions in tropical systems around the world. Dr. Feeley’s lab has been extremely successful to date with students producing a large number of high-impact publications in journals such as Nature, Science, PNAS, TREE, and Nature Climate Change. The graduate students have also won numerous accolades and awards.