Faculty and Staff

Jennifer Loertscher, Ph.D.



Phone: 206.296.5945

Building/Room: SINE 590-13

Teaching and Research Interests

The Loertscher group is focused on research to understand and improve student learning in undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry. She is co-author 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 transferable 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.

Recent Publications

  1. Jennifer Loertscher, Jennifer E. Lewis, Allison Mercer, Vicky Minderhout, “A construct map framework to support teaching and assessment of noncovalent interactions in a biochemical context,“ Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 2018, 19, 1151-1165.
  2. David Green, Jennifer E. Lewis, Jennifer Loertscher, Vicky Minderhout, “For want of a better word: unlocking threshold concepts in natural sciences with a key from the humanities?” Higher Education Research & Development, 2017, 36(7).
  3. Xiaoying Xu, Jennifer E. Lewis, Jennifer Loertscher, Vicky Minderhout, Heather Tienson, “Small changes: Using assessment to direct instructional practices in large-enrollment biochemistry courses,” CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2017, 16(1), 1-13.
  4. Sachel M. Villafañe, Jennifer E. Lewis, Vicky Minderhout, Jennifer Loertscher, “Community-based design and national testing of an assessment instrument to measure understanding of protein structure and enzyme inhibition in a new context,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 2016, 44, 179-190.
  5. Jennifer Loertscher, David Green, Jennifer E. Lewis, Sara Lin, Vicky Minderhout, “Identifying threshold concepts for biochemistry,” CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2014, 13, 516-528.
  6. Jennifer Loertscher, Sachel M. Villafañe, Jennifer E. Lewis, Vicky Minderhout, “Probing and improving students’ understanding of protein α-helix structure using targeted assessment and classroom interventions,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 2014, 42, 213-223.
  7. Cheryl P. Bailey, Vicky Minderhout, Jennifer Loertscher, “Learning transferrable skills in large lecture halls: implementing a POGIL approach in biochemistry,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 2012, 40 1-7.
  8. Tracey A. Murray, Pamela Higgins, Vicky Minderhout, Jennifer Loertscher, “Sustaining the development and implementation of student-centered teaching nationally,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 2011, 39 405-411.
  9. Sachel M. Villafañe, Cheryl P. Bailey, Jennifer Loertscher, Vicky Minderhout, and Jennifer E. Lewis, “Development and analysis of an instrument to assess student understanding of foundational concepts prior to biochemistry coursework,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 2011, 39 102-109.
  10. Sachel M. Villafañe, Jennifer Loertscher, Vicky Minderhout, and Jennifer E. Lewis, “Uncovering Students’ Incorrect Ideas About Foundational Concepts for Biochemistry,” Chemistry Education Research and Practice 2011, 12 210-218.
  11. Jennifer Loertscher and Vicky Minderhout Foundations of Biochemistry, 3rdEdition; Pacific Crest: Lisle IL, 2011.
  12. Vicky Minderhout and Jennifer Loertscher, “Lecture-Free Biochemistry: A Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Approach,” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 2007 35 172-180.


Book Recommendations      

  • The Ice at the End of the World by John Gertner
  • The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Radioactive by Lauren Redniss
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot