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On the Mississippi with Dr. Reuben Heine

October  19, 2011

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This series of videos recognizes Augustana College's newly tenured professors. The series starts with Dr. Reuben Heine, associate professor of geography, who never hesitates to involve students in real-world research projects on the Mississippi River. As the skipper of the college's floating classroom Stewardship, Dr. Heine enjoys collaborating with colleagues from across campus and from government agencies to provide students with hands-on, and sometimes muddy, high-impact learning experiences.

Here is Dr. Heine, speaking aboard the Stewardship on the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois, with students.

Video transcript

Heine: “So today we’re out on a second day of collecting mussel data for a research project for our hydroecology class. (Boat engine whirrs.) As I reflect back on being a student myself, I think about those times when things really came together for me, and often times, it was in the field.

(Mussels poured out into tin) When you’re learning in context… (Student: “What is that?”)… for example, you see something that’s unexpected, questions just pop up in ways that are spontaneous, and spark student learning.

(Divers splashing) There’s a total of three divers here. Two of them are from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, out of their Springfield office.

What we’re doing here is we’re experiencing what it’s like to be an environmental scientist, to do the kind of work, to work alongside these environmental scientists with more experience. (Candid w/ student: “We’re trying to make a difference in the mussel population in the Mississippi River.”)

That information is not just going to be shelved at Augustana; it is data that is needed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The design of this class is to have two professors and a cohort of about twenty students. I’ve teamed up with Professor Kevin Geedey. He’s the ecologist; I come in as the hydrologist. (Geedey and Heine confer) We’re doing this interdisciplinary work with our students.”

Geedy: “A technical tool that Reuben [Heine] is an expert at, GIS is one that simply did not exist when I was going through graduate school. For me, this has been a great opportunity to pair the work that I can do as a biologist with somebody who can bring that geospatial aspect to it.”

Heine: “A place like Augustana College provides the resources and opportunities, the opportunity for two professors to be working with a group of twenty students. Even more than the small group of students we have, it’s the amount of total time we spend with them over the course of ten weeks to give the students a sense of what it’s like to be an environmental scientist in the world of aquatic biology.” (Boat engine whirrs.)