Laci M. Gerhart Barley

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Research

The roll of educational technology in large-enrollment STEM courses

Technology is increasingly present in college classrooms, on both the instructor and student side. My work on this began as a series of ‘test-runs’ of third party technology tools (such as Packback, TopHat, and Cerego) in introductory biology courses of 300+ enrolled students. I am currently conducting a campus-wide study on the impacts and perceptions of lecture capture technology. Lecture capture allows faculty to have each lecture session video-recorded and provided to the students as a study tool. My work involves linking records of student video access with course performance and attendance records to assess the links between lecture capture video availability/usage on student performance and absenteeism. A survey of UC Davis students and instructors also provides a comparison of student and faculty opinions of lecture capture as an educational tool.

Stable nitrogen isotope analysis of tree ring chronologies

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Coring trees at Blodgett Forest Research Station

Isotope analysis of tree ring chronologies is a powerful tool for reconstructing photosynthetic behavior, water acquisition, and nutrient cycling. Analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopes are commonly-used metrics; however nitrogen isotopic analysis is relatively new. Past research has shown that nitrogen is capable of moving throughout the trunk of the tree and across ring boundaries, potentially confounding the use of tree ring nitrogen isotope data as an annual record of nitrogen cycling throughout the tree’s life. In collaboration with Dr. Stephen Hart, I am working to quantify the degree of nitrogen mobility in ring wood to better understand the utility of nitrogen isotope chronologies as a paleo-ecological proxy.