Avery Cook Shinneman

Associate Teaching Professor

Avery Cook Shinneman

B.A., Geology and Environmental Studies, Macalester College
Ph.D., Geology, University of Minnesota

Email: alcs@uw.edu
Mailing Box: 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell WA 98011


I teach environmental science courses that are focused on the process we go through to investigate and begin to understand the environmental systems we live in. My intention is that students leave my courses with a better understanding of both the earth system/process the class is focused on (water resources, geology, etc.) and the way we go about investigating that process. Most of my classes involve individual research, experiential learning at outdoor field sites or local environmental agencies, and significant hands-on problem solving. My main focus is to teach students how to navigate the often messy process of discovery. I believe strongly that many controversies in the public discourse about science, including debates about climate change, evolution, and medicine, stem from the fact that too many people see science as a text book that has already been written instead of as a dynamic process. I want to encourage students to look at science as something they can actively create and evaluate, rather than something that is handed to them as a set of predetermined conclusions. My desire is that each student leaves one of my courses better able to use evidence in decision making, discuss the uncertainties and errors in scientific research, and apply the knowledge of the course to a relevant problem.

Recent Courses Taught

BEARTH 153 Introduction to Geology
BEARTH 201 Mapping Earth Systems
BEARTH 321 Geomorphology
BES 330 Limnology


My research interests are two-fold. One focus is on developing records of recent and long-term changes in the environment, especially in aquatic systems, arising from shifts in climate and land-use. Using biological and geochemical archives in lake sediment cores, I develop reconstructions of paleo-ecological changes. These reconstructions can be used to answer a variety of questions about natural variability in ecological systems, changes in these systems after anthropogenic disturbances, and the efficacy of restoration efforts. I’m also interested in learning more about human interactions with lake systems – how we use and relate to water and developing outreach strategies to engage with safe use and management of freshwater.

Selected Publications

  • Shinneman ALC, Loeffler S, Myrbo A (2020) Self-guided field trips allow flexibility in undergraduate student introductory field experiences. Journal of Geoscience Education 68(4).
  • Shinneman ALC, Umbanhowar CE, Edlund MB, Hobbs WO, Camill P, Geiss C (2016) Diatom assemblages reveal regional-scale differences in lake responses to recent climate change at the boreal-tundra ecotone, Manitoba, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology 56: 275.
  • Shinneman ALC, Edlund MB, Umbanhowar CE, and Soninkhishig N (2010) Late Holocene moisture balance inferred from lake sediment records in western Mongolia. The Holocene 20: 123-138.