Research + Teaching

My research and teaching are integrated thematically through my Invertebrate Paleontology, Natural History of Coral Reefs, and Dinosaurs and Their Relatives courses for undergraduates, and through my Evolution of Ecosystems, Reefs and Global Change, and Evolutionary Paleoecology courses for graduates.

Teaching Grants + Research

I received a grant from IU’s Writing-Teaching Grant Program for incorporating writing exercises in the science classroom.

I published scholarly research with colleagues in two peer-reviewed education journals in which we addressed distinct themes: the first focused on decoding students’ knowledge of geologic time, and the second addressed the theory of STEM learning transfer – a research focus that evolved from data gathered in my Dinosaurs and Their Relatives non-science majors course.

Johnson, C.C., Middendorf, J., Rehrey, G., Dalkilic, M.M., and Cassidy, K. 2014. Geological time, biological events and the learning transfer problem.Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 14(4):115-129.

Zhu, C.G. Rehrey, G., Treadwell, B., and Johnson, C.C. 2012. Looking Back to Move Ahead: How Students Learn Deep Geological Time by Predicting Future Environmental Impacts.Journal of College Science Teaching – A peer-reviewed journal published by the National Science Teachers Association. 41(3):61-66.

Teaching Honors

Participation in the Faculty Learning Program, consultation with advisors from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), and persistent focus on assessment of student learning and adjustment of teaching techniques led to:

  1. Trustees Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences (2014)
  2. Teaching Excellence Recognition Award in the Department of Geological Sciences (2012)
  3. Nomination for the Students Choice Awards from the Student Alumni Association (2009)

Courses taught throughout academic career


  • Coll C105 Beauty: Evolution of Science
  • E114 Dinosaurs and their Relatives
  • E334 Principles of Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
  • E341 Natural History of Coral Reefs
  • E404 Geobiology and G411 Invertebrate Paleontology
  • E490 Independent Research Geological Sciences
  • L490 Independent Research Biology

Graduate Seminars and Field Excursions

  • EAS G690 Olduvai Gorge Research Seminar
  • EAS G700 Oligocene Reefs
  • Alabama Museum of Natural History and Gulf Coastal Deposits, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


  • EAS G561 Paleoecology
  • EAS G588 Paleobiogeography
  • EAS G685 Evolution of Ecosystems
  • EAS G600 Practical Geobiology
  • EAS G690 Evolutionary Paleoecology
  • EAS G690 Reefs and Global Change
  • EAS G690 Advanced Techniques
  • EAS G690 Global Climate Change and the Fossil Record
  • EAS G700/E341 Natural History of Coral Reefs
  • EAS G700 Coral Climate Informatics



Current Undergrad Courses

E114 Dinosaurs and Their Relatives

The objective of this course is to increase basic knowledge of the diversity of life forms that evolved during billions of years of Earth's history. We will apply geologic and biologic principles and examine fossils in the study of Earth’s history. In particular, we will address the origin of life and the early fossil record, the theory of evolution, approaches of taxonomy, the chemistry of fossils, the ecology of ancient life, and the use of fossils to measure geologic time.

Link to E114 Website

E341 Natural History of Coral Reefs

The course will address the evolutionary history of reef ecosystems through geologic time inclusive of reef composition and global distribution, modern reef development, conservation and management practices, and the persistence of the reef ecosystem through climate change scenarios. We will cover biologic, ecologic, and geologic principles as they pertain to coral reef ecosystems. We will analyze and synthesize the ecologic and environmental context for long-term biotic associations in the reef ecosystem.

Link to E341 Website

E411 Invertebrate Paleontology

To increase your basic knowledge of the diversity of life forms that evolved during billions of years of Earth's history. Application of biological principles and use of fossils in the study of Earth’s history; origin of life and the early fossil record; evolution; approaches of taxonomy; chemistry of fossils; ecology of ancient life; use of fossils to measure geologic time.

Link to E411 Website

E490 Independent Research

If you are an undergraduate interested in geobiologic research on invertebrates, please contact me to discuss a research topic.

Current Graduate Courses