Courses

Teaching Faculty

Dieter Bouma : photo

Dieter Bouma


Dieter Bouma M.S., M.P.P. teaches our Conservation & Development in the Indian Tropics course at the India Campus during our May Session. A recipient of not one but two graduate degrees, Dieter holds a Master of Science from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment as well as a Master of Public Policy from U of M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. 

His graduate research focused on community-based conservation in Nepal, home of the Himalayas and a border country with India.  Through an international forestry research program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he researched community-based conservation, specifically how rural communities in Nepal sustainably manage their forests.  The work required interdisciplinary study of forest ecology, social organization, cultural practices, and policy prescriptions and Dieter bring this interdisciplinary lens to studies in the Indian subtropics.

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Dr. John Bratton : photo

Dr. John Bratton


Dr. John Bratton teaches Au Sable’s Land Resources alongside Dr. Mark Gathany (Cedarville University) and Dr. Jonathan Peterson (Hope College). John spent four years with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at their Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor where he served as Deputy and Acting Director. 

Now a private environmental consultant with LimnoTech, Dr. Bratton brings years of professional and academic practice as a geologist before NOAA with the USGS Center for Coastal and Marine Geology in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and as an adjunct faculty member with Wayne State University and several other institutions.

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Dr. Scott Carr : photo

Dr. Scott Carr

(765) 641-4371


Anderson University

Dr. Scott Carr teaches the Environmental Chemistry course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session II.  Scott has been a Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Anderson University since 2001.  He received his B.A. in chemistry from Taylor University and his Ph.D. from Miami University with his research being in the area of analytical chemistry.

Scott enjoys the intense and intimate structure of Au Sable that allows him to concentrate not on only his course, but also learning from the other recognized experts around him.  Top that off with fantastic fellowship with the students, and he has found the Au Sable experience to be an absolutely wonderful time and amazing setting to explore our Creator's handiwork.

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Dr. William Deutsch : photo

Dr. William Deutsch

(334) 844-9119

Auburn University

Dr. Bill Deutsch teaches our Watersheds in Global Development course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session II. Bill is an aquatic ecologist with degrees in Zoology, Biology, Anthropology and Aquatic Ecology. He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures at Auburn University, while also directing the Alabama Water Watch and Global Water Watch programs.

Previously, he conducted environmental impact studies on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania as a Research Biologist and Director of Aquatic Research. Over the years, he has made about 60 trips to 20 countries for work on water-related projects, with special interest in community-based watershed stewardship.

He began teaching at the Au Sable Institute in the mid-1990s and has enjoyed the natural beauty and faculty camaraderie at the Great Lakes and Pacific Rim campuses, as well as the opportunity to explore faith-science integration with inquisitive students.

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Dr. David Dornbos : photo

Dr. David Dornbos

(616) 526-8578 

Calvin College

Dr. Dornbos teaches our Field Biology in Spring course at the Great Lakes Campus during May Term. He received a B.S. in Biology from Calvin College, M.S. in Crop Production and Physiology from Ohio State University, and Ph.D. in Crop Production and Physiology from Iowa State University.

Prior to teaching at Calvin College, he worked for 15 years at Syngenta Seeds, ultimately becoming Global Head of Seed Production Research. David’s research includes work on utilizing green space for carbon sequestration and understanding the characteristics that allow invasive shrub species to thrive, specifically glossy buckthorn and autumn olive.

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Dr. Michael Ferber : photo

Dr. Michael Ferber

780-465-3500 ext. 8130

The King's University College

Dr. Michael P. Ferber teaches our International Development and Environmental Sustainability course at the Pacific Rim Campus during Summer Session II.  Dr. Ferber directs the Environmental Studies Program at The King's University College in Edmonton, AB where he also serves as Assistant Professor of Geography. Before serving at King’s Dr. Ferber was a Development Director at World Vision Appalachia in Philippi, West Virginia.

He has over fifteen years of experience serving churches and communities in poverty-stricken regions. His research has bridged creation care, poverty studies, sustainability, geography of religion and human/environment interaction. His publications include, among others, a sidebar in Senator John Edwards book Ending Poverty in America, a chapter on Sustainable Missions in the Evangelical Missionary Society’s 2010 Annual Volume, and numerous encyclopedia articles on creation care and the environment. His writing has appeared in Green Culture, Green Education, Environmental Politics, Annals of the Association of American Geographers,GeoCarto InternationalThe American Religious Experience, The Canadian Geographer, Journal of Religion Nature and Culture,Geographic Education of the Islamic Culture Region, International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dictionary of Critical Realism, and the Encyclopedia of Geography. In the summer of 2010 Dr. Ferber was one of eight scholars selected for a Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Seminar in Shanghai and Beijing, China. He has taught numerous courses at King’s and at West Virginia University including 'Humankind and the Biosphere,' 'Environmental Impact Assessment,' 'Natural Resource Management,' 'Human Geography,' 'Geographic Information Systems,' 'Urban Geography,' and 'Urban and Regional Planning.' He enjoys working at Au Sable for numerous reasons, but especially for the depth of conversation and understanding the Au Sable format provides for students and professors.

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Dr. Michael Freake : photo

Dr. Michael Freake

(423) 614-8282


Lee University

Dr. Michael Freake teaches the Wildlife Ecology and Research Methods II classes at the Great Lakes campus in Summer Session II. He is Professor of Biology at Lee University, where he has taught since 2001. He received a BA (Honours) in Zoology from Oxford University, United Kingdom, and his PhD in lizard navigation from Flinders University of South Australia.

Before coming to Lee University, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Indiana University working on magnetic navigation in amphibians. Since 2004 his research has focused on the conservation ecology and genetics of eastern hellbenders (giant salamanders), which are currently a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. One of the best aspects of this project is to work closely with colleagues from zoos, universities, NGOs, and state and federal agencies in developing assessment and management plans. When not in the river chasing hellbenders he is in the river flyfishing for trout and smallmouth bass, or coaching Lee womens rugby. His research has been published in a variety of journals including Animal Behaviour, Journal of Experimental Biology, Copeia, and Herpetogical Conservation and Biology, and he is an associate editor for Herpetological journal.

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Dr. Mark Gathany : photo

Dr. Mark Gathany

937-766-3823


Cedarville University

Dr. Mark Gathany teaches the Environmental Applications for GIS course during Summer Session II as well as the GIS component of the Land Resources course during Summer Session I at the Great Lakes Campus. Mark is Assistant Professor of Biology at Cedarville University, specializes in ecology and biogeochemistry, and teaches courses in ecology, geographic information systems (GIS), and environmental ethics.

Mark received his Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University, where he became an expert in GIS technology through his research in ecosystem management and modeling on how fire and changing land use patterns affect carbon storage, nitrogen flow, and flux of greenhouse gas rates in forest ecosystems.

Mark’s publications have appeared in such peer-reviewed journals as Forests, Global Change Biology, and International Journal of Wildland Fire and he serves as a reviewer for international journals like Ecological Modeling, Environmental Management, and Forest Ecology and Management.  He serves as the faculty representative to Au Sable Institute and as the faculty advisor for the Cedarville student organization Earthwise.

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Dr. David Hoekman : photo

Dr. David Hoekman


Southern Nazarene University

Dr. Hoekman teaches the Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests and Fields course at the Great Lakes Campus during the May term.  He received a B.S. in Biology and Archaeology from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Notre Dame.  He studies arthropod food webs in aquatic and terrestrial systems and a teaches a range of field-based classes at Southern Nazarene University including Marine Ecology, Insect Ecology, Ornithology, General Ecology and Tropical Field Research in Costa Rica.

He is an assistant professor of biology at Southern Nazarene University. Dr. Hoekman, along with his wife and 3 sons, enjoys traveling, biking and spending time outside.  Prior to coming to Oklahoma, they have lived and worked in Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin, Iceland, Indiana and Michigan.

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Dr. Matthew Ingle : photo

Dr. Matthew Ingle

(661) 362-2727


The Master's College

Dr. Matthew Ingle teaches the Animal Ecology course during Summer Session I at the Great Lakes Campus. Matt has served on the faculty at Cedarville University, Biola University, and now is an Associate Professor at The Master’s College in California. He specializes in parasitology and animal ecology, and teaches courses in both molecular biology and ecology.

Matt received his Ph.D. in Biology from Loma Linda University, where he studied the relationship between raccoon ecology and parasitism from raccoon roundworm. While he studied parasitology, he developed expertise in both molecular biology and ecological principles. Matt’s research provided models for predicting where disease is most prevalent, and how parasites are transmitted. Matt’s publications have appeared in the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, and the conference proceedings of the American Society of Mammalogists and the American Society of Parasitologists.

While not in the classroom or lab, Matt enjoys camping with his family. He and his wife, Jordan, have three children, Reagan, Liam, and Madison. The Ingles currently live in southern California, and enjoy all of the various ecosystems to explore within hiking distance.

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Dr. Dan Ippolito : photo

Dr. Dan Ippolito

(765) 641-4333

Anderson University

Dr. Dan Ippolito teaches Aquatic Biology at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I. Dan is a Professor of Biology at Anderson University in Indiana.

He received his B.S. in Biology from Yale University and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985. His research includes stream assessment, macro-invertebrate assays, and the interface between faith and science.  

Dan says, “I love coming to Au Sable because of the setting and the people. I learn something new every time I go, and it gives me a chance to share my passion for the Creation and for our stewardship responsibilities.”

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Dr. John Korstad : photo

Dr. John Korstad

(918) 495-6942

Oral Roberts University

Dr. John Korstad has been teaching our Lake Ecology and Management course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session II every summer since 1996. He is professor of biology at Oral Roberts University, where he has taught since 1980.

John was raised in Northern California and attended California Lutheran College at Thousand Oaks where he double majored in biology and geology. He went on to earn an M.S. at California State University and then his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His current research is on developing biofuels from algae. Previously, he conducted aquaculture research in Norway as part of a Fulbright grant and Marshall Fund Award.

John, his wife Sally, and their four daughters enjoy traveling, fishing, hiking and scuba diving.

John says, “I love the whole concept of why Au Sable Environmental Institute exists– ‘…a Christian ministry that provides field-based, college-level courses to train and educate future leaders in environmental studies and inspire the greater Christian community to care for God’s Creation.’  I appreciate the collegiality that I’ve experienced among brothers and sisters in Christ from various Christian backgrounds. And I am committed to integrating practical, hands-on work that provides close interactions between our course and local lake property homeowners to learn about how they can care for, preserve, and protect their lakes.”

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Rachel Lamb : photo

Rachel Lamb


Rachel Lamb M.S., M.P.P., will be teaching Environmental Law and Policy during May Session at Au Sable. Holding two Masters degrees, one in Conservation Biology and the other in Public Policy, Rachel is the National Spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and works in advocacy in Washington D.C. 

In 2015 Rachel was recognized by the Whitehouse's Champions of Change Program for her work on climate action in faith communities. Also in 2015, Rachel Lamb was a member of the faculty team which taught Land Resources at  Au Sable.

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Dr. Vern Peters : photo

Dr. Vern Peters

780-465-3500 ext. 8127


King's University College

Dr. Vern Peters teaches the Conservation Biology course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I.  He specializes in the population ecology of endangered pines and seed predators in high elevation ecosystems, and looks forward to sharing his species recovery planning experiences from working with a variety of government agencies and conservation organizations.

He is particularly excited about teaching in the field (at a time when leaves are present, a rare opportunity for northern ecologists!) and sharing his love of forest ecosystems. He received his B.Sc. in Botany and Zoology at the University of Manitoba, and Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Biology at the University of Alberta. Vern is an associate professor of Ecology at the King’s University College, in Edmonton, Alberta, where he is currently the Chair of Biology.

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Dr. Jonathan Peterson : photo

Dr. Jonathan Peterson

616-395-7133

Hope College

Dr. Jonathan Peterson co-teaches the Land Resources course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I. During the regular school year, he serves as Professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Hope College. Jonathan received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Chicago.

His research has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Chemosphere, Environmental Pollution, Hydrogeology Journal, and Environmental Geology and has taught courses in Mineralogy, Petrology, Hydrogeology and team-teaches courses in Environmental Public Policy, Laboratory Methods in Environmental Science, and Earth Environmental Systems I & II.

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Dr. Darren Proppe : photo

Dr. Darren Proppe

616-526-6662

Calvin College

Dr. Proppe teaches the Research Methods course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I. Darren is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Calvin College and is broadly trained in animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology. His research interest have focused on vocal communication and the distribution of songbirds in response to anthropogenic noise, building from his Ph.D. research at the University of Alberta. 

After growing up saying, “I will never go under the ocean or out into space,” Dr. Darren Proppe started his research career studying coral diseases on a reef 100 miles off the coast of Texas as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University. Shortly after graduation, however, a temporary position assessing populations of endangered golden cheeked warbler in Central Texas shifted Darren’s focus from the marine environment to terrestrial ecosystems. His interest in birds, the ecological processes that support them, and the need for conservation measures, blossomed throughout his graduate research and as an assistant professor.

As an educator, Darren strives for a relaxed, yet rigorous, approach to learning about the natural world. He promotes applied learning through hands-on activities and example driven presentations. He is most invigorated when teaching students while immersing them in the ecosystem they are studying! Perhaps, that is because it is here that the beauty of God’s Creation is most evident.

When not teaching or conducting research, Darren enjoys spending time with his wife, Sarah, and two children, Elliott and Grace. He prefers to spend this time in the outdoors seeking opportunities to hike, bicycle, bird, and cross-country ski. Darren’s past experiences includ: being a wilderness guide in Wisconsin and British Columbia, Canada; teaching scuba diving in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands; and teaching outdoor education in Californa, Oregon, and Washington State. He currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Despite his failure to avoid going under the ocean, he still has no immediate plans to visit space.

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Dr. Eric Steinkamp : photo

Dr. Eric Steinkamp

(425) 889-7780

Northwest University

Dr. Eric Steinkamp teaches our Alpine Ecology course at the Pacific Rim Campus during Summer Session II. He currently serves as Professor of Life Sciences at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA.

Eric received his B.S. in Forestry from the University of Illinois followed by a M.S. in Forest Management from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Ph.D. in Forest Science from Colorado State University. Most recently, he received his Master of Divinity from Assembly of God Theological Seminary. His research focuses on Alpine Ecology of the Cascade Mountains and sustainability and transformational development.

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Dr. Kenneth Sytsma : photo

Dr. Kenneth Sytsma

(608) 262-4490

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Ken Sytsma teaches our Field Botany course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I. He is currently a Professor of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has taught since 1985.

He served as Acting Director of the University of Wisconsin Herbarium (1993-1997), Acting Director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium (2006-2007), chair of the Botany Department (1998-2001), chair of the Biology major (2004 -2008), and Associate Editor of the Journal of Botany (2008-present). Ken received his B.S. in Biology from Calvin College. He then earned his M.A. in Botany and Ecology from Western Michigan University and his Ph.D. in Systematic and Evolutionary Biology from Washington University (St. Louis). His research interests include the phylogenetics of flowering plants; floristics and biogeography of Great Lakes flora; adaptive radiations of island, tepui, and Andean flora; molecular and morphological evolution of Myrtales, Ericales, Brassicales, Campanulales and commelinoid monocots with emphasis on Onagraceae, Combretaceae, Capparidaceae, Bromeliaceae, Rapateaceae, Lobeliaceae; biogeography of disjunctions; phylogeography of rare or invasive species; pollination biology; and theory of evolution – biological, philosophical, and religious implications.

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Dr. Dave Unander : photo

Dr. Dave Unander

(610) 341-5860

Eastern University

Dr. Dave Unander teaches our Tropical Agriculture and Missions course during May Term in Costa Rica. Currently, he is Professor of Biology at Eastern University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Dave’s research includes work on plants affecting hepatitis B virus and virus resistance in tropical crops. He also serves as a consultant to Christian missions organizations involved in tropical agriculture and has served on the board of ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization). He has also written a book on biology, Christianity, and race: Shattering the Myth of Race: Genetic Realities and Biblical Truths.

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Dr. Benjamin Van Ee : photo

Dr. Benjamin Van Ee

(605) 642-6616

Black Hills University

Dr. Van Ee teaches the Applied Biodiversity Genetics course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session I. He received his B.S. in Environmental Studies from Dordt College and a Ph.D. in Systematic Botany from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he also earned Naturalist and Land Resources Analyst certificates from Au Sable Institute. He is currently a faculty member and Director of the Herbarium in the Biology Department of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.

His research is in plant phylogenetics, taxonomy, and biogeography of both tropical species of the Euphorbiaceae family and plants from the upper midwest of North America. Ben worked as an Environmental Education Intern, and other jobs, at Au Sable before going to graduate school and is greatly looks forward to returning as a faculty member in summer.

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Dr. Tim Wakefield : photo

Dr. Tim Wakefield

John Brown University

Tim Wakefield teaches our Marine Biology course at Pacific Rim Institute during Summer Session II. He received his B.S. degree from Union University, his M.A. degree from the University of Missouri, and his Ph.D. from Auburn University.  He currently serves as professor of Biology at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR.

Dr. Wakefield has worked on a variety of research projects including the symbiotic relationship between algae and cnidarians, Orca whale behavior, and freshwater stream ecology. 

Tim says, “I love working for Au Sable because it gives me the opportunity to teach Marine Biology in the field.  I love to spend time with students exploring low tide areas and introducing them to the huge varieties of life that can be found there.”

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Dr. Ronald Vos : photo

Dr. Ronald Vos

(712) 722-6285

Dordt College

Ronald Vos teaches our Ecological Agriculture course at the Pacific Rim Institute during Summer Session II. He is professor of agriculture at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. His undergraduate major is biology and minor is in chemistry from Dordt College; his MA in environmental science from Governors State University; and his PhD in agronomy from South Dakota State University.

His research interests focus on sustainable agriculture, including cropping systems to reduce nitrogen leaching, bioenergy and diversity in sustainable crop systems, and cover crops/green manures. In addition to North America, he has agricultural experience in Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Russia, Ukraine, and Zambia.  He and his wife also live on and operate a small farm where they raise sheep, alfalfa, corn, and soybeans.  They also restored and now steward a large prairie on their land.

Ron says, "I love to teach at Au Sable (and have done so regularly since 1999) because of the enthusiasm, interest, and interaction with students as we explore God’s world!"

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Dr. David Warners : photo

Dr. David Warners

616-526-6820

Calvin College

Dr. Dave Warners teaches our Restoration Ecology course at the Great Lakes Campus during Summer Session II. Dave did a BS in Biology and Chemistry at Calvin College, an MS in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in Botany at the University of Michigan.

Dave has spent time overseas in Tanzania, Costa Rica, Belize and New Zealand. He has been teaching ecology, botany and research courses at Calvin for 16 years while doing research with students in the areas of conservation, restoration and plant evolution. Recently he has been involved in a community initiative in Grand Rapids to help churches become involved in improving the health of an urban stream, work that has included reintroducing native habitats into urban and industrial areas. Dave has taught several classes at Au Sable and loves the opportunity Au Sable courses afford to facilitate experiential learning while developing a nurturing, mutually encouraging community of Christians dedicated to tending God's world.

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Elizabeth Zwamborn : photo

Elizabeth Zwamborn


Elizabeth Zwamborn teaches the Marine Mammals course at the Pacific Rim Campus during Summer Session II. She is finishing her MS at Dalhousie University, and before that she received her BS degree in biology through Trinity Western University. 

Elizabeth has been part of a diverse array of research projects throughout her academic career, from camping out for months collecting recordings of orcas and sailing off the Galapagos Islands tracking groups of sperm whales, to combing the blueberry fields of Washington State looking bird pest problems and sorting through sea lion scat for evidence of their last meals. She is currently finishing her work looking at long—finned pilot whale vocalizations and social structure off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada for her MS. When not at sea or in the lab, Elizabeth finds other ways to enjoy creation through hiking, diving, sailing, and even helping with the local marine mammal stranding network.

Elizabeth is looking forward to teaching this summer and sharing her passion for mammals as a beautiful and important part of marine ecosystems. 

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