Susan Waters

Part-Time Lecturer

B.A. Biology and Environment, Hampshire College
M.Ed. Secondary Science Education, University of Massachusetts
Ph.D. Biology, University of Washington

Office: Husky Hall 1416
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246



In my experience, most students--of all ages and backgrounds--respond to Ecology with great interest under the right circumstances—when something interesting catches their attention.  My teaching strategy is to spark the curiosity that arises with that changed perspective on the familiar, and then use it to motivate students toward the harder intellectual work and rewards of a deeper understanding. I like to lead into lectures with a Socratic approach, asking questions to help students to think through new ideas. I find that the Socratic approach often encourages a collegial feeling in the classroom, and prompts students to become question-askers themselves, increasing their interactions with each other and deepening their intellectual engagement. I then use active learning strategies to capitalize on students’ engagement, from small group jigsaws to group presentations, student research, group data analyses, and above all, hands-on work with organisms and data collection in all my courses. Finally, I try to strengthen students’ crucial quantitative skills in Ecology by using activities that require them to use data to answer questions in whose answers they have already become interested. I regularly express my own continuing fascination with the complexity and beauty of Ecology, and above all, how surprising the natural world is. 

Recent Courses Taught

BES 301 Science Methods and Practice
BES 312 Ecology


My research focuses on the synergistic effects of ecological invasion and climate change on plant-pollinator interactions and plant community structure. My approach merges field experiments, observational studies and statistical modeling.  For example, climate change is altering the timing of flowering, affecting whether interacting plants and pollinators will overlap in time - and therefore continue to interact - in the future. To evaluate the effect of such mismatches, I manipulated the timing of flowering to assess the impact on seed production of native and exotic plants.  The results were dramatic changes in the quantities of seed produced by plants, suggesting the possibility of major future changes to plant communities.

I am deeply engaged in citizen science, and I bring this experience to the classroom.  I co-founded the Urban Pollination Project (UPP), a partnership between scientists, gardeners, and the City of Seattle, that assesses the impact of land use on pollinators and local food production in community gardens. As co-director of this fast-growing initiative, I lead a team of field interns who collect data every summer, and I use the dataset in turn to teach analysis in my research practice course.  The project has uncovered the fact that virtually all tomatoes in Seattle are pollinated by a single species of bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, highlighting a potential vulnerability for local food production.   In addition to research, UPP has created pollination-related curricula for 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms.


Waters, S., S.E. Fisher, and J. Hille Ris Lambers. 2014. Neighborhood-contingent indirect interactions between native and exotic plants: multiple shared pollinators mediate reproductive success during invasions. Oikos 123: 433-440.

Hille Ris Lambers, J., A. Ettinger, K. Ford, D. Haak, B. Miner, H. Rogers, K. Sheldon, J. Tewksbury, S. Waters, and S. Yang. 2013. Accidental experiments: Ecological and evolutionary insights and opportunities derived from global change. Oikos 122: 1649-1661.

Waters, S., Chen, W., and J. Hille Ris Lambers.  In preparation. Impacts of asymmetric phenological shifts on pollinator-mediated seed production.

Waters, S., and J. Hille Ris Lambers. In preparation. Invasion by exotic plant species alters seasonal patterns of community floral resources for pollinators.

Waters, S. 1995. Effects of elevation and edge on soil nitrogen cycling in a montane forest.  In: Berkowitz, A.R., S.E.G. Findlay, and S.T.A. Pickett, (eds.), Occasional publications of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York.