What are you doing in this picture?
Traipsing through some elephant grass in Vietnam, trying to reach the summit of Hill 861 on the Khe Sanh Battlefield. (learn more
What kind of research do you do?
My research focuses on Military Geography. I have been to the Western Front in France, and also to Khe Sanh battlefield, in Vietnam. I look at how the landscape has been disturbed differently when you compare the two and how landscape is affected by war and how war is a catalyst for how land is used afterward.
Can you share some memorable experiences you’ve had with students?
Recently on a field trip for my Military Geography Course, I took my students to play paintball to apply what we had learned in class to a project they would work on based on the paintball game. Each team had 1 sq mile of land to analyze before and after the game. They used spatial information and navigation techniques and worked on team projects afterwards. The day was a lot of fun for both me and my students, and I hope they got something out of doing hands on learning.
How are students involved in your research or lab work?
I have a few student/faculty research projects happening right now. I have one student looking at historic data using GIS to map out accounts and history of war. In my other current research project, I have two students working with me on my research In Vietnam. Those students have recently been awarded a grant to allow them to accompany me to Vietnam for further military geography research there.
What facilities or equipment do you get to use in your work?
GIS, GPS, geospatial gizmos, metal detectors, laser distance measuring devices. One of the reasons I love geography is all of the cool equipment and tools we get to use to solve problems and map out information.
What do you hope your students are getting from your courses?
I don’t like to teach for the test. I think that things are rarely black and white, so I hope my students are able to think critically and figure out answers or solutions to problems based on critical thinking skills. In many cases there may not be only one answer, so knowing how to work through problems, solutions, and find what works best in each situation is ideal.