joined Bretz Group in August 2007
B.S. University of Central Missouri, 2007
Ph.D. Miami University, 2011
Dissertation: Biochemistry Students' Understandings of Enzyme-Substrate Interactions as Investigated through Multiple Representations and the Enzyme-Substrate Interactions Concept Inventory
Enzyme-substrate interactions are a concept that spans various topics in biochemistry and molecular biology (e.g. kinetics, metabolism, and translation) and there are a vast amount of representations used to teach this concept that lack common conventions. Deficiencies in understanding of enzyme-substrate interactions or lack thereof could hinder students’ understandings of later concepts in biochemistry. However, prior to this dissertation, there was no way to efficiently measure students’ understandings of enzyme-substrate interactions. Therefore, this dissertation set out to (1) investigate biochemistry students’ understandings of enzyme-substrate interactions and how multiple representations of the phenomena influence the understanding and (2) use misconceptions uncovered to create the Enzyme-Substrate Interactions Concept Inventory (ESICI) to allow for efficient measurement of students’ understandings. Multiple theoretical frameworks guided the development, collection and analysis of the data in this dissertation. A sequential mixed methods design was used to address the aims of this dissertation. This design consisted of student interviews using multiple representations to elicit students’ understandings of enzyme-substrate interactions, followed by the development of the ESICI based on the findings from the interviews. The ESICI was subsequently administered to 707 students at 16 institutions from across the United States. Students’ were found to have a range of prior knowledge that they used to interpret the representations. The use of multiple representations provided evidence of cognitive dissonance, representational competence, and misconceptions. The ESICI further provided evidence of misconceptions, the most significant being students’ sole focus on electronic complementarity and students’ lack of energetic understanding of enzyme-substrate interactions. The findings from this dissertation could be used in the classroom to measure students’ understanding of enzyme-substrate interactions prior to instruction of the concept and to use representations in a more connected, purposeful way. Manuscripts have been published in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education,Chemistry Education Research and Practice , and the Journal of College Science Teaching.
Cognate Research: What is the True Color of Fresh Meat? A Biophysical Undergraduate Laboratory Experiment Investigating the Effects of Ligand Binding on Myoglobin using Optical, EPR, and NMR Spectroscopy
With an increased focus on integrated upper-level laboraties, we present an experiment integrating concepts from inorganic, biological, and physical chemistry content areas. Students investigate the effects of ligand strength on the spectroscopic properties of the heme center in myoglobin using UV-vis, 1H NMR, and EPR spectroscopies. This upper-level undergraduate laboratory is set in the context of understanding why meat is packaged under an atmosphere of CO and can be completed in two, 3-4 hour laboratory periods. A manuscript describing this experiment was published in the Journal of Chemical Education.