This is me at age two, and I assure you that I am still just as stylish. I am originally from Milpitas, California, which was a “small” town of 52,000 people when I grew up there. Growing up, I enjoyed a front-row seat in Silicon Valley during the birth of the internet and the explosion of technology that went with it. Yet the things that I remember most from California are going to Giants baseball games with my family and visiting my grandparent’s small ranch in the middle of suburban San Jose.
My heritage has influenced my life in different ways. My father’s family are all descended from poor farmers and fishermen from the Açores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I have always been proud of my family’s Portuguese heritage, and I am certain my work ethic is somehow genetically tied to those poor ancestors scratching out a living from soil and pulling it from the ocean. My interest in Portuguese landscapes is partially a result of my love for my ancestry, and the fact that I immediately fell in love with Portugal when my wife and I traveled there in 2009.
My mother’s family is from Northern Utah and southern Idaho. Nearly every summer we would make the exciting (I’m joking) drive across the Nevada desert and visit my great aunt in Preston, Idaho. Along the way we stopped in Logan, Utah to get ice cream from the campus creamery at Utah State. I don’t think I ever would have imagined myself moving to Logan and attending USU, but they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and Aggie Ice Cream is the very best there is. Ultimately, I grew to value Cache Valley for its amazing dynamism created from a research university located in a largely rural agricultural valley.
It is amazing how little occurrences like that impact the direction of your life. My original studies were preparing me for a career in political conflict resolution and, as part of that, I was completing a degree in Irish political and historical studies at The Queen’s University of Belfast. While working on my thesis paper I was spent a lot of time sitting in plazas and walking streets, and I began to realize that I was paying more attention to the landscape than the people I was supposed to be observing! Fortunately, my wife had the solution: landscape architecture. She had been studying landscape architecture before we uprooted and moved to Belfast, and I remember being jealous of her homework. On a side note, if you ever find yourself jealous of someone’s homework, that might be a good indicator it is time to rethink your major.
During my time studying landscape architecture I had two revelations. First, while taking a landscape architecture history course from Michael Timmons, I realized how passionate I was about the diversity of landscapes throughout history. I have developed an especial interest in the landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula and Islamic gardens. The second event was when I was asked to teach the online version of our department’s Introduction to Landscape Architecture course. While teaching this course I realized two important things: there was tremendous potential in online education and, by and large, it wasn’t being done right to teach landscape architecture.
And so, by my very nature, when I find something that isn’t working, I set out to fix it. I undertook a doctoral degree in Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences in order to develop pedagogical and technological solutions to teaching landscape architecture on-line. This work has led to the development of several technology tools and pedagogical theorems that are in various stages of testing and implementation. While I am passionate about the potential of online education in landscape architecture, I am also excited about the potential overlap between tools and pedagogy developed online and how these can also be innovative in the classroom.
Because you made it to the bottom of this page here are some nuggets of information about me: