Lisa Elfring

Research Interests

Lisa Elfring is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry/Biochemistry. She is involved in biology education at the pre-college, college, and graduate levels. She works with undergraduate students to develop their skills in connecting key concepts in biology and to help them to make the most of their University experience. She is a member of the UA College of Science Teacher Preparation Program, working with undergraduate biology students who are preparing to become teachers. She is the biology advisor for the Natural Sciences M.S. Program, a unique graduate program for working secondary science teachers that provides graduate-level courses in science and science education and science research experiences. Dr. Elfring's teaching experiences range from large courses in introductory cell/molecular biology and cell biology, to courses focusing on helping undergraduate students to prepare for doing laboratory research. In her Biology Teaching Methods course, she helps prospective biology teachers learn how to transfer their understanding of biology into classroom practice. She teaches several graduate-level courses, including genetics and evolutionary biology, for the Natural Sciences M.S. program. She enjoys serving as a facilitator in the UA School of Medicine's case-based-instruction program. In her years at the University of Arizona, she has also taught several laboratory courses and science pedagogy courses for both undergraduate and biology teachers. Dr. Elfring's research interests are integrated with her teaching role. She is interested in learning how students come to make sense of the key biological concept that genes code for RNAs which (mostly) encode proteins to form the structural and catalytic molecules of the cell, a process that is termed the central dogma of molecular biology. With a group of collaborators, she is involved in efforts to introduce more quantitative problem-solving work in the Introductory Biology course and across the undergraduate life-sciences curriculum. She is also interested in process of systemic change in educational systems, and particularly in how the university can promote the adoption and assessment of research-based teaching strategies across the entire range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. Her undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral training is in molecular, cell, and developmental biology; she has done research using humans, mice, and fruitflies as experimental systems to investigate normal and abnormal development.