Teaching & Outreach

Decisions are only as good as the information behind them. Science is only as valuable as the level at which it’s comprehended.

SCU in the field

SCU Environmental Science students record species abundances along a transect as part of a field lab on biodiversity.

As scientists, we have a personal responsibility to make sure our work, and the work of others is readily accessible to all audiences. Part of that responsibility includes a commitment to teaching, especially at the undergraduate level where many young decision-makers will be exposed to the environmental sciences for the first and last time.

At UCSB, I teach courses designed to build math literacy and quantitative skills in the next generation of biologists. This includes EEMB 179/279 — Ecological Modeling (for undergraduate and graduate students), EEMB 120 — Introduction to Ecology (undergraduate), EEMB 595CA — Construction and Analysis of Ecological and Evolutionary Models (undergraduate and graduate), and EEMB 508 — Principles of Ecology and Evolution (graduate).

As an instructor, I use a variety of student-centered learning approaches to cement core concepts in the classroom, and reinforce these concepts with inquiry-based laboratory and field activities. In lecture hall settings, I’ve found that small-group exercises, in which students debate and discuss topics their peers before regrouping as a large class to debrief, work especially well as a means of engaging every student and encouraging them to think about science in a nuanced way. Below, I’ve provided some examples of classroom exercises; contact me if you’d like another format or the “answer key”!


Mystery species help students build a trait-based phylogeny.

Sample classroom exercises:

Building a trait-based phylogeny / The symbiosis spectrum / Mapping BiomesEvaluating extinction risk

Community Outreach

I’m proud to be part of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI), having trained as a science fellow in the Spring 2016A Study Circle. NNOCCI’s mission is to empower interpreters at zoos and aquariums (and scientific institutions!) to start productive conversations about the science behind and solutions to climate change. I’m excited to work with the Central California Regional Study Circle group to continue NNOCCI’s training mission at the local scale.


Sending math biology to sea! Friend of the Moeller Lab, Ed Sweeney, presents Lotka-Volterra predator-prey equations to explain fisheries dynamics during WWI aboard the Sea Education Association vessel Corwith Cramer.

Our group routinely collaborates with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the SBMNH Sea Center to provide guest lectures, outreach day activities, and other scientific programming to museum and aquarium guests. We participate in the Aquarium’s annual Underwater Parks Day, and work with the Museum’s Quasars-to-Sea-Stars program to provide scientific experiences to middle- and high-school students.

In addition to my commitment to enhancing environmental literacy, I believe strongly in connecting math and biology in the classroom early and often! I love giving guest lectures to elementary and middle school students that link species interactions to quantitative metrics. Please invite me to your classroom!

Science Writing

Communicating science is absolutely critical in the Anthropocene. Human ingenuity has revolutionized the way we interact with our planet — but also created unique challenges for our generation. Some of these — climate change, overpopulation, and species extinction, for example — threaten our well-being and even survival as a species.

But to address these problems, we first have to understand them. That’s increasingly challenging in a world of sound-bytes and scientific mis-trust.

The most important part of my job as a scientist is making sure that anyone and everyone can understand both my work, and the work of others in my field. From 2007-2016, I wrote about environmental issues for newspapers and blogs, striving to make science both interesting and tangible. Click below for some examples of my writing.

I welcome story ideas and leads at hollyvm@alum.mit.edu!

Seeing Green, my award-winning environmental opinion column, ran for 8 years beginning at Rutgers University. Recent columns can be found online at: http://www.stanforddaily.com/author/hollymoeller/

The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere Blog periodically publishes my work: http://mahb.stanford.edu/post-author/holly-moeller/

During a previous election cycle, the San Francisco Chronicle published my think-piece on the importance of taking the long view.