Jonathan (Jackie) Brown
Professor of Biology
I am a biologist whose interests lie at the intersection of evolution, ecology and behavior (B.A. Carleton '83 and Ph.D. Michigan State Univ. '89). My research considers the roles of species interactions in evolutionary change; I'm particularly interested in the role that sexual interactions and ecological interactions between species play in population differentiation and speciation. I have published work on the phylogeny and ecology of yucca moths and their relatives, North American and Hawaiian damselflies, and herbivorous flies in the family Tephritidae (the "true fruit flies") in North America and Hawaii. I involve my students in both field studies of ecology and behavior and molecular genetic studies of population and species relationships. Since 1995, I have taught courses at Grinnell in ecology, evolution, and animal behavior at all levels of the curriculum; many of these use our biological field station, the Conard Environmental Research Area, so I have been involved over this time in management of the restored and reconstructed native habitats there.
I was interested in participating in the Considering Animals seminar because relationships among animals (including humans) and their environments have always been a focus of my research and teaching. I have found many opportunities to connect to other disciplines within these courses, by including sections on the human history of Iowa and prairie landscape painting in my introductory biology course (Introduction to Biological Inquiry – Prairie Restoration), offering a biennial upper level biology seminar (History of Biological Thought), and teaching a course in Grinnell-in-London (Ecology of Place in Great Britain) that has shared field trips and readings with a course in English (Literature of Place in Great Britain). I have also taught interdisciplinary subjects, for example by developing first-year tutorials (Evolution and Society and Envisioning Nature) that consider the interaction of biology with social issues and art, respectively. As a graduate of an ACM institution, place-based, interdisciplinary teaching and learning has been a satisfying way of life.
I hope this workshop provides an opportunity to extend my past interdisciplinary teaching into new areas, especially the visual arts. Our team hopes to develop opportunities for students to engage in disciplinary studies that are mindful of the promise and strengths of the liberal arts, as well as create an explicitly interdisciplinary outcome, a gallery exhibition. I look forward to interacting with the teams from other institutions, both to learn from their perspectives and experience and to explore ways that we could collaborate across institutions.