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. Prof. Loertscher is co-author of an active learning textbook for biochemistry entitled Foundations of Biochemistry and has worked with the biochemistry education community 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, Prof. Loertscher studied both chemistry and German literature, earning B.A. degrees in 1996. She earned her Ph.D. 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, Prof. 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 has enjoyed working with students ever since. In addition to teaching chemistry, Professor Loertscher is a Faculty Associate with the Center for Jesuit Education where she works with faculty and staff colleagues to explore and implement principles and practices drawn from the Jesuit Educational Tradition.

Recent Publications

  1. Sachel M. Villafañe, Vicky Minderhout, Bruce J. Heyen, Jennifer E. Lewis, Andrew Manley, Tracey A. Murray, Heather Tienson-Tseng, Jennifer Loertscher, “Design and implementation of a tool to assess students’ understanding of metabolic dynamics and regulation,” CBE-Life Science Education, 2021, 20(3), 1-15.


  1. Quira Zeidan, Jennifer Loertscher, Adele J. Wolfson, John T. Tansey, Erika G. Offerdahl, Peter J. Kennelly, Daniel R. Dries, Victoria Del Gaizo Moore, Diane M. Dean, L. Michael Carastro, Sachel M. Villafañe, and Ludmila Tyler, “Development of a certification exam to assess undergraduate students’ proficiency in biochemistry and molecular biology core concepts,” CBE-Life Science Education, 2021, 20(1), 1-13.


  1. Jennifer Loertscher, Vicky Minderhout, and Katherine Frato, Foundations of Biochemistry, 5th Edition, Pacific Crest: Hampton NH, 2020.


  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.


  1. 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).


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Jennifer Loertscher, David Green, Jennifer E. Lewis, Sara Lin, Vicky Minderhout, “Identifying threshold concepts for biochemistry,” CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2014, 13, 516-528.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

Curriculum Vitae