Lisa Elfring

Assistant Vice Provost, Office of Instruction/Assessment
Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute

I am first and foremost a biology teacher; my research interests lie in how biology students learn biology, and my “research lab” is the biology classroom. What are the biology concepts that trip students up, and how can we use this information to our advantage to solve some of the problems students encounter when they learn biology? How can instructors structure the learning environment to promote understanding of important biology concepts? I am interested in how students’ understanding of the central dogma (DNA codes for RNA, and RNA codes for protein) changes as they progress through their biology coursework. I have also participated in research that showed that students in Introductory Biology can learn how to apply math to biological problems, increasing both their quantitative skills and their understanding about basic biological concepts. What we have learned in our work has significantly changed the way we teach in our MCB courses.
I am currently working to help instructors use their instructional teams better so they can use more evidence-based teaching strategies in their classrooms. These strategies can be applied in biology and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes. I am also involved in efforts to make meaningful changes in biology laboratory classes by helping students to use models as tools to design experiments and interpret data from those experiments.