Faculty Spotlights

Dr. Jennifer Glowienka

Dr. Jennifer Glowienka with studentsWhile trekking through rainforests collecting ferns for evolutionary and biogeographical studies over a decade ago, Dr. Jennifer Glowienka never imagined she and her students would later be collecting ticks and mosquitos from across Montana. These diverse projects have allowed her to do one of the activities she enjoys most—work with undergraduate students in a research setting. In her 15 years at Carroll, she has directly trained 22 undergraduate research students in a variety of molecular methods to analyze populations and species.

Dr. Glowienka received her Ph.D. from the Department of Environmental, Organismal, and Population Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003 and began teaching at Carroll that same year. Her Ph.D. research and the research she did for her first 5 years at Carroll College focused on the evolutionary and biogeographical relationships of Hawaiian ferns. In 2008, she started working on an infectious disease ecology project with colleagues Drs. Grant Hokit and Sam Alvey, as well as colleagues at various tribal colleges, and the project continues today. This research involves surveillance of occurrences of West Nile virus and its mosquito vector throughout the state of Montana. It also involves identification of the factors that affect when and where in Montana West Nile virus outbreaks occur each summer. This information has been used to create a West Nile virus risk assessment model for Montana and serves the public health of Montana. The project has expanded to studying other mosquito borne diseases as well as tick borne diseases.

Working with undergraduate student researchers has been one of Dr. Glowienka’s greatest professional joys. The learning gains of students who work on independent research projects are remarkable, and Dr. Glowienka is passionate about incorporating evidence-based effective teaching strategies into her formal class settings to encourage similar student learning gains. Inspired by the AAAS’s 2011 report (supported by the NSF), “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action,” Dr. Glowienka has participated in workshops and has attended conferences focused on active learning pedagogies in the sciences and she continues to modify her courses to incorporate a number of different active learning strategies. For example, she has flipped some courses she teaches, uses case studies to illustrate concepts, and incorporates problem solving and data analysis into courses. She has also experimented using different educational technologies and recently has been teaching in more flexible and technologically equipped educational spaces, which expands the range of learner-centered activities possible during lecture periods.

Dr. Glowienka shares that teaching at Carroll College has allowed her to grow professionally and personally in many ways. In addition to focusing on biology and science education, she enjoys working with faculty and students from across disciplines, and by participating in interdisciplinary activities and courses, she has expanded her understanding and appreciation of the human experience, as well as her understanding of the Carroll student experience. She notes that, “Our students and faculty are passionate and dedicated to more completely understanding and positively influencing the world and each other. It is inspiring to work with people dedicated to the betterment of both.”

Dr. Eric Sullivan

Dr. Eric SullivanDr. Eric Sullivan received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Colorado Denver in 2013. His research focus during graduate school was on the derivation of, and numerical solutions to, partial differential equation models for sub-surface fluid and vapor transport. Specifically, he was interested in building mathematical models for liquids that were moving through shallow soils. Before his Ph.D., Eric spent ten years teaching mathematics at the high school level. Upon graduation from his Ph.D. program he was excited to join the Carroll College community and turn his academic focus back to the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Dr. Sullivan’s current research focus is in writing inquiry-based and open source materials for differential equations and numerical analysis. His recent publications have been co-authored with several Carroll College students as well as other Carroll mathematics faculty. Titles include “Fish Mixing: Exploring Differential Equation Mixing Models,” “Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea with Differential Equations,” “Exploring Energy Dissipation in Mass-Spring Oscillators,” “Exploring Real Data— A Look at AirBnB,” and “Teaching Problem Posing and Inquiry to Teachers.” He has also been asked to present several of these inquiry-based explorations at both regional and national mathematics conferences.

His current research project is to create an open-source Numerical Analysis text written with a focus toward exploration and inquiry. Dr. Sullivan notes that “After teaching the numerical analysis course out of my notes for the past several years, the text is ready for publication to a wider audience. While this is the type of project that may never be complete, I have made the current version of the book available to the world for free in hopes that the wider use of open source course materials can help to bring mathematics content to our students in a free and easy format. The numerical text is one small step in that direction.” Dr. Sullivan has also co-authored a book chapter for a widely used inquiry-based open source Calculus textbook and has written open-source notes for several other mathematics courses at Carroll. As is stated in the preface to the Calculus text: “Mathematics belongs to human kind and should therefore be free for our students to access.”