Introducing the Department of Environmental Studies new Assistant Professor, Dr. Michele Abee. The Environmental Studies Department thought the best way to introduce her is to ask a series of questions that the students want to know!
Q: Where are you from?
I moved from Portland, Oregon, but I am a North Carolina native. I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I consider myself a southern girl at heart despite all the moving I have done in my adult life.
My internships took me to Portland, Maine; Talkeetna, Alaska; and a month-long stint in Auckland, New Zealand that I would not trade for anything.
Q: What are your degrees in and where did you get them?
All three of my degrees were conferred from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For the Bachelor of Arts, I double majored in History and Geography. My history major was also in the honors program. At UNCG this is referred
to as 'Disciplinary Honors' as a student can also achieve 'International Honors' through study abroad opportunities. My Master of Arts is in Applied Geography where I specialized in the Geography of Religion and Music. My PhD is in Geography
with a specialty in Geovisualization, with complements in Environment, and Sustainability. In the words of my advisor, I am the generalist that no one trains anymore.
Q: What are some of your hobbies?
My hobbies are being outdoors! I love hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, paddle boarding, and kayaking. I also love curling up on the couch, watching movies, and reading books, particularly in the historical fiction or sci-fi/fantasy genres.
Yes, I am a nerd, I own it.
Q: What drew you to Bellarmine?
A couple of things. What drew me to Bellarmine was its commitments to social justice and its students, and its faith centered mission as a university. During the interview process, it was clear that there was a great sense of collegiality and care
for one another from the faculty and staff that interviewed me. The level of comradery here at Bellarmine is rare in academia and I am thrilled to be part of a community that cares about each individual member of that community regardless of
'rank' or 'status.'
At Bellarmine, I truly feel like I can blend everything about me and harness it for the betterment of my students and peers from my training as an academic, to my internships, and faith.
Q: What research have you done and what are your current research interests?
Early this year, I published a journal article in Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization entitled 'The Spread of the Mercator Projection in western European and United States Cartography' that featured
the results of my dissertation.
I have two current research projects: One, I am working with two professors at UNC Wilmington, and we are researching how online food websites (digital geographies) have profited from local food nostalgia, while countering the 'localness' of food by shipping
it nationwide. Think of it this way, think of places like New York City, NY and Charleston, SC, they have very distinct food cultures that have grown up through the history of those cities. The patterns and migrations and placemaking of
people and food reflect who these cities are based on where they are. By being able to order food online from NYC and shipping it to Louisville, KY, there is something inherently contradictory about 'local' food. Two, a colleague from Western
Oregon and I are researching how the digital environment (telemedicine) is providing equitable access to healthcare for women. This is in its early stages, so stay tuned.
My current research interest is in getting the Bellarmine farm up and running with Dr. Carlson Mazur and Jadyn Bailey the Student Farm Steward. My hope is that this farm will be a community farm for Bellarmine, but we can also spread out the love
by spreading urban farming into the greater Louisville community.
Q: What classes do you plan (and hope) to teach?
I want to keep teaching the Geography classes, GIS, and Environmental Justice. I would love to teach Earth Science, and I very much look forward to teaching ENVS 380 and 420 in the spring. I would love to build out our GIS classes to include
cartography and an applied environmental GIS seminar.
Q: What is your primary teaching style?
I am a hybrid style teacher. I communicate through lectures, when necessary, but I love discussion, bringing in multimedia sources, and a variety of activities and assignments that connect to real world learning.
Q: How do you plan to interact with students outside of class, such as involvement in clubs, etc.?
This is one I am still trying to figure out. As I get to know the Bellarmine community more, I will have a better answer. Right now, I very much look forward to interacting with students at ENVS sponsored events, and on the Bellarmine farm!
Q: How do you plan to make your class accessible?
This is a phenomenal question! It is something I am growing in. I do my upmost to use a variety of open access books, or supply students with scanned copies of the reading material so no purchase of textbooks is needed. I try to only assign books
when there is no other option. I use closed captioning during films and power point lectures. (It hasn't been working lately, but as I become more familiar with the technology that will change). I use discussion boards, and 'free writing'
exercises even in discussion-based classes. As someone who needed to process readings, classroom discussions and additional material, and an introvert by nature, I see this as an opportunity to hear from all students. I love to teach through
multimedia sources! Podcasts, documentaries, docuseries, have so much good information that I can't help it. And it provides me with an additional opportunity to bring in critical thinking skills. This is something I am still growing in
and want to know so much more about. We all learn through different styles and means, and I want the classroom to be open to all!
About the writer: Rhianna Clemons is a senior Environmental Science and Political Science major with a minor in Biology at Bellarmine. She is the work-study for the Environmental Studies Department along with being involved in the Honors Program, Leading Women of Tomorrow, and Student Government Association. Her research interests include marine biology, marine echinoderms, climate change, conservation, and sustainability.