Teaching

High Altitude Biology – Biology 409/509

Returning by popular demand in Fall 2020! We will examine the effects of high-altitude hypobaric hypoxia on life. We will cover: (1) respiratory physiology; (2) mountain climbing, exercise physiology, and the diversity of hypoxic responses; (3) the three independent paths to high altitude adaptation in humans; (4) high altitude adaptation in vertebrates and insects; and (5) elevational diversity gradients and the ecology of montane ecosystems. Students can expect diverse reading assignments, guest lectures, and field trips. We will interact with world class researchers, in person and via Skype. Grading will be heavily based on participation in student-led discussions and oral presentations.


Ornithology – Biology 486L (every other fall)

Co-taught with Professor Blair Wolf. Learn about bird diversity in the museum, field, and classroom, and discuss cutting edge research on bird evolution, ecology, and physiology. Field trips around New Mexico are always the highlight of this class.


Natural History Museum Curation – Biology 402/502

This course will examine natural history museums, their mission, their varied goals, and what it means to be a curator. We will discuss the best ways to use museums to facilitate specimen-based science and to broaden understanding of the natural world. We will examine the current state of research integration with museums, and related best practices.


Evolution – Biology 300

This upper division undergraduate course emphasizes the fundamentals of organic evolution (microevolutionary & macroevolutionary processes), human evolution, and the history and current state of evolutionary biology. The course uses no textbook, but heavily draws on web resources, current events, and classic readings, from Charles Darwin to leading thinkers and writers of the present.


Molecular Systematics Discussion Group – Biology 402/502 (every semester)

Weekly discussions explore the hottest and most recent publications related to avian systematics, genomics, ecology, and evolution.


Avian Specimen Preparation – Biology 402/502 (every spring semester)

Led by Andy Johnson, Senior Collections Manager of the Bird Division, Museum of Southwestern Biology. Learn to glean valuable data from dead birds and preserve scientific museum specimens for posterity. Students immortalize themselves in the scientific record by preparing a series of bird skins and skeletons.


Ornithological Field Expedition – Biology 419/519

Offered only to students who are involved in research and invited on ornithological expeditions. Discover bird diversity while exploring the world and doing novel research. This course requires extensive advanced preparation – talk to Prof. Witt if you're interested in learning about what it takes.


Museum Curatorial Methods in Ornithology – Biology 402/502

Offered occasionally. Co-taught with Andy Johnson. Learn how to be curator in a natural history museum and facilitate specimen-based science. We'll review best practices in all areas: fieldwork, regulatory compliance, archival standards, and database management.


Birds of the World – Biology 402/502

I anticipate teaching this course soon in response to popular demand – contact me if interested! It would emulate Remsen's famous course at LSU in which many familiar names appear in the all-time standings.