Avoid the Cholla

Martin Roberge is a geography professor at Towson University. He specializes in studies about the urban hydrology of Baltimore.


The cholla is not the everyday cactus. It is the one reason why people wear heavy leather boots equipped with a steel shank to walk around a 120 degree desert. If their barbed needles aren’t removed from your skin they can work their way down to your muscles and in some cases they can even reach your heart.

“Don’t pet the cholla,” said Martin Roberge.

Roberge is a teacher at Towson University, he teaches geography, but specializes in the study of urban hydrology.

Roberge began his academic career as an undergraduate student at Binghamton University where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He then moved on to the University of South Carolina, before finally finishing his education at Arizona State University.

It was at Arizona State where he learned about the danger of the cholla cactus. During his tenure as a doctoral he would often take walks in the desert that was near the school’s Tempe, Az campus.

“He tried to make the class a personal experience, which is cool because there were almost 100 people in the class when I took it,” said Jessica Stevens, a former student of Roberge.

Stevens also said that Roberge made sure he knew the names of all of his students no matter how large the class is, which is why on the first day he takes every students picture and  study’s them so that he can call students by their names in class.

“I appreciate the fact that he gives his students the best chance to do well, some teachers stick with a certain regiment that they are comfortable with, but may not give the students the best opportunity to perform well,” said Beth Hall, who also teaches geography at Towson.

He provides his students with a course outline in addition to the notes that he gives his students every class.Throughout the course of a semester Roberge gives his class 15 to 20 quizzes but only uses a student’s top 10 quiz scores when calculating his student’s semester grade.

Both Hall and Stevens agreed that he made the relatable to the students in ways that are practical as well as interesting to them. He uses local examples to teach students about topics such as urban hydrology.

For his Geography 101 classes he ends the semester by teaching them about the Chesapeake Bay, and how the concepts students learned throughout the semester apply to the bay.

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