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The Loertscher research group is focused on understanding the biochemical basis for cellular adaptation to environmental changes. Currently the group is investigating a family of endoplasmic reticulum proteins that are required for yeast cells to adapt to low temperatures. This work has implications for human health since this protein family has recently been identified as having a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Loertscher is also actively engaged in scholarship to understand and improve student learning in 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.
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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