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The Loertscher group is focused on research to understand
and improve student learning in undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry.
She is co-author with Dr. Vicky Minderhout of an active learning textbook for
biochemistry entitled Foundations of Biochemistry and has worked with a
community of faculty to create learning and assessment materials for use in the
undergraduate biochemistry classroom. Her research in this area focuses
on the ways in which faculty classroom practices influence students’
understanding of foundational concepts and their ability to develop
transferrable skills like teamwork and analysis of complex problems. Most
recently, she has been involved in identifying and investigating threshold
concepts in biochemistry.
As an undergraduate at Grinnell
College, Dr. Loertscher studied both chemistry and German literature, earning
her B.A. degree in 1996. She earned her Ph.D. degree in environmental
toxicology working with Dr. Lynn Allen-Hoffmann at University of Wisconsin. Her
graduate research was at the interface of biology and chemistry, studying the
toxic effects of the environmental contaminant dioxin on human skin cell
biology and development. Subsequently, Dr. Loertscher was a Ruth L. Kirchstein
National Research Service fellow studying biochemistry and genetics in the lab
of Dr. Robin Wright at the University of Washington. There she identified and
characterized a protein complex required for cold adaptation in eukaryotic
cells. She began her academic career as an assistant professor of chemistry at
Seattle University in 2003 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2010.
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