Laurel Hartley

Laurel Hartley photo
Ph.D. • Associate Professor • Biology Research Faculty
Department of Integrative Biology

Mailing Address:
Department of Integrative Biology
Campus Box 171
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1150 12th Street
SI 4124
Denver, CO 80204

Office Hours:  Please contact Instructor for office hours.

Expertise Areas:
My science education research interests are concerned with assessing and improving how students understand biological concepts and apply scientific principles, especially concepts and principles related to ecology. I work at both the undergraduate and grades 6-12 levels. My approach to this research employs both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods. I enjoy working on large-scale, multi-faceted collaborative projects that seek to answer transformative and often complicated research questions. Thus, some of the projects I work on involve many collaborators from across the country. My goals as a science education researcher are to make discoveries that can be used for improving pedagogy and assessment in undergraduate biology education and for informing the development of national science standards and practices for K-12 education. My ecological research bridges community and ecosystem ecology to explore how plant communities and soils respond to external factors such as intensive herbivory, nutrient inputs, emerging infectious diseases, and climate change. The model system that I work on has shaped and integrated the questions that I pursue. I study the impact of introduced bubonic plague on both urban and rural black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) communities. My field research involves mostly observational studies across space and time gradients. I conduct greenhouse experiments to further explore the mechanisms underlying the broad patterns I observe in the field. Much of my research is situated in and around urban Denver, making it easily accessible to UC Denver student researchers.

Ph.D., Ecology, Colorado State University
M.S., Biology, Colorado State University
B.S., Biology, Southwestern University

My training, experience, and interests are in the fields of science education and ecology. I hold a Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University. My dissertation focused on the indirect effects of bubonic plague in prairie dogs on plant communities and ecosystem function in Colorado. I received additional experience and training in science education through a post-doctoral position at Michigan State University and a position in exhibit development at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I was hired at UC Denver in 2008 primarily as a biology education researcher, and the majority of my current work is in that field. However, I also conduct research in ecology because it informs my teaching and my science education research, much of which focuses on student understanding of content related to ecology. I am pleased to be part of a growing national cadre of "science faculty with education specialties" and plan to continue to pursue both lines of research throughout my career.

Talbot, R.M., L. Hartley, K. Marzetta, and B. Wee. Transforming Undergraduate Science Education with Learning Assistants: Student Satisfaction in Large Enrollment Courses. Journal of College Science Teaching. In Press Beals, S.C., L.M. Hartley, J.S. Prevey, and T.R. Seastedt.

2014. The effects of black-tailed prairie dogs on plant communities within a complex urban landscape: an ecological surprise? Ecology. 95:1349-1359. Hartley, L.M., J. Momsen, A. Maskiewicz, and C. D'Avanzo.

2012. Energy and Matter: Differences in discourse can be confusing for introductory biology students. BioScience. 62:488-496. Hartley, L.M., B.J. Wilke, J.W. Schramm, C.A. Anderson, and C. D'Avanzo.

2011. College Students' Understanding of the Carbon Cycle: Contrasting Principle-Based and Informal Reasoning. BioScience. 61:65-75. Savage, L.T., R. Reich, L.M. Hartley, P. Stapp, and M.F. Antolin.

2011. Climate, soils, and connectivity predict plague epizootics in black-tailed prairie dogs Cynomys ludovicianus. Ecological Applications. 21:2933-2943.

BIOL 6002: Biology Skill Sets: Pedagogy
BIOL 2061: General Biology II
BIOL 4053/5053: Disease Ecology
BIOL 3413: Ecology Laboratory
BIOL 4052/5052: Advanced Ecology