Background and Research Focus

Charlene D’Avanzo is Professor of Ecology in the School of Natural Sciences. She received her Ph.D. through the Boston University Marine Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. For over 25 years her research has focused on the ecology of estuarine ecosystems with regard to nitrogen dynamics. In the Waquoit Bay National Science Foundation LMER (Land Margin Ecosystems Research) program she linked nutrient loading in densely populated Cape Cod to effects on ecosystem metabolism, including anoxia and fish kill events.

Most recently Charlene has turned her attention to science education reform. She runs several national programs that help ecology and biology faculty improve their teaching. In addition, she is Director of Hampshire’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Presently, Charlene is:

  • Lead PI on a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to improve the teaching of introductory biology nationally. Faculty in this program use Diagnostic Question Clusters, a type of concept inventory, to focus their efforts on fewer biological concepts and assess student progress.
  • Lead-PI on the TIEE (Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology) project, also funded by NSF. TIEE is a peer-reviewed publication of the Ecological Society of America designed to improve college ecology teaching and support the scholarship of teaching and learning in ecology.
  • Co-PI on an NSF-supported RCN (Research Collaborative Network) program titled Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student: Using Scientific Societies as Change Agents for the Introductory Biology Experience.

Selected Publications

Knapp A., C. D’Avanzo. 2010. Teaching with principles: towards more effective pedagogy in ecology. Ecosphere, in press.

D’Avanzo, C. 2009. Supporting faculty through a new teaching and learning center. Peer Review 11: 22-25

Lowman, M, C. D’Avanzo, C. Brewer. 2009. A national ecological network for science and education. Science 323:1176-1177

D’Avanzo. C. 2008. Biology concept inventories: overview, status, and next steps. BioScience 58 (11): 1079-1085

D’Avanzo, C. and D. Morris. 2008. Investigating your own teaching: faculty as research practitioners. Academe 94: 40-44

D’Avanzo C, Grant BW, Morris D, Musante S, Taylor J, Riney J, and Udovic D. 2006.
Design and evaluation of TIEE, a peer-reviewed electronic teaching resource.
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4: 189-195.

D’Avanzo, C. 2003. Application of research on learning to college teaching: ecological examples. BioScience 53: 1121-1128

McNeal, A. and C. D’Avanzo. 1997. Student-Active Science: Models of Innovation in College Science Teaching. Saunders College Publ., Philadelphia

D’Avanzo, C. J.N. Kremer and S. Wainright. 1996. Ecosystem metabolism in response to eutrophication in shallow temperate estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series 141:263-274.

D’Avanzo, C. and J.N. Kremer. 1994. Diel oxygen dynamics and anoxia in Waquoit Bay, a eutrophic embayment on Cape Cod, MA. Estuaries 17:131-139

Work With Students and Courses

Charlene works with students interested in a wide range of ecological and environmental areas: conservation ecology, aquatic and marine ecology, wetlands ecology, water pollution and sustainablity, and environmental education. Many of her students go on to graduate school in ecology and related fields. Presently her students are in graduate programs in ecology at the University of Georgia, University of Alaska, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, and University of Minnesota.

Courses she teaches include: Ecology, Environmental Science, Science Education, Seminars in Ecological Applications and Marine/Aquatic Ecology, and Environmental Science in the Movies. During January terms she has offered field courses in Belize and Puerto Rico.