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Member Spotlight: Al Trujillo

Al TrujilloEssentials of OceanographyTAA member Al Trujillo is a Professor of Oceanography at Palomar College and a textbook author in the Earth Science: Oceanography discipline.

Most recently, he has published the 12th edition of Essentials of Oceanography with Pearson Education. This textbook is the market-leading college-level oceanography textbook worldwide. He has worked on this title since its 6th edition. This book is also a TAA “Texty” Textbook Excellence Award winner [10th edition, 2011] and a TAA McGuffey Longevity Award winner [12th edition, 2017]. He is also a contributing author for the three oceanography chapters from “Unit 5: The Global Ocean” in Earth Science, 15th Edition and co-author of Introductory Oceanography, 10th Edition (a higher-level, more robust oceanography textbook), both published by Pearson Education.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the 13th edition of Essentials of Oceanography, which I am in the beginning stages of manuscript submittal and will be in production over the next year. Fortunately during this revision, I have sabbatical and another leave, so I won’t have to teach any of my normal college classes during the next two semesters. My publisher, Pearson Education, has assembled a talented production team and we have many new ideas and features to incorporate into the upcoming edition. The text is scheduled to be published in early 2019 and will carry a 2020 copyright.

Share a recent accomplishment.
One of the things I’m most proud of is an annual teaching conference about active learning that I helped create at my school. During the conference we bring in an expert keynote speaker and have a variety of breakout sessions where active learning is demonstrated and applied to new situations with teachers. We are preparing for our 5th annual conference in early 2018 and it always sells out. Information about the conference can be found at:

What is your favorite textbook writing tip or strategy?
I firmly believe that incorporating student feedback is important for improving a textbook. After all, that’s the audience we’re trying to reach! I review various chapters in my book with my students for extra credit, and so my textbook is filled with improvements and suggestions from students. For example, I have a feature called “Students Sometimes Ask” that has real student questions about oceanographic phenomena along with my answers. To me, it’s one of the most interesting and pleasurable parts of the book to write.

What is your best TAA experience so far?
It would have to be attending the annual TAA Conferences. They are fabulous venues to make connections and talk to other authors, who share similar issues and concerns about writing textbooks. Writing a textbook has been compared to being on a long, solo traveling journey. I find that being in the company of other authors who write and publish regularly–and are able to share similar experiences–is very comforting. I’ve also received much good advice at the conferences about things like contract negotiations and finding a co-author.