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Liz Dorland is a long-time educational innovator and confirmed early adopter of new technologies for science education. Teaching college chemistry for over 35 years in a variety of (mostly) community colleges provided a deep understanding of how students learn scientific concepts. As a chemistry major, the visual aspects of concepts were of great interest, and as a faculty member teaching general, organic, and biochemistry, finding the most effective ways to utilize visualizations and animations for learning became an enduring passion. With the dawn of the web, exploring the potential for visual interactivity for learning became a new passion. Meeting two NSF-DUE program officers at a conference in the early 1990s resulted in invitations to participate in Review Panels and eventually to be a program officer. This tremendous learning opportunity generated a desire to use this broader perspective on educational reform on a larger scale. Ongoing projects utilize virtual worlds and social media as learning, communication, and international collaboration environments with a focus on faculty, research, and professional development. In July 2011, Liz was co-chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education and subsequently organized an NSF-funded workshop for GRC participants to generate a report on lessons learned and recommendations for future research on visualization and learning.                                                                                                                                                 

Educational Projects and Interests

Virtual World Projects (2006-present)

  • Museum of Virtual Media - History of Cinematography display for University of Washington (2012-13)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) class for 3rd World doctors, Population Control (2012)
  • EFRC (DOE - Energy Frontier Research Centers) Grad Student & Post-Docs Poster Session (2011)
  • New Media Faculty-Staff Seminar (organized and co-facilitated Second Life section (2011)
  • WIC (Women in Control) diabetes education for low-income black women (ages 50-65, w/Boston U)
  • BU Continuing Education for Doctors - patient diabetes education, motivational interviewing
  • Touring, Building & Scripting classes for international educators (co-developed and taught)
  • Second Life workshops for high school biology teachers, WU-MSP masters degree program

Teaching and Learning (Chemistry Faculty activities through 2006)

  • Interdisciplinary faculty learning community (co-founder) - presentation of the Nature of Science in college science courses (2004-2006)
  • Student-created digital video projects of chem lab concepts (edited with iMovie, 2002)
  • WebCT for weekly quizzes, grades, links to online tutorials & resources (2001-2006)
  • Vernier Probes for lab data collection using Graphical Analysis (1995 - 2005)
  • ChemEd-L: Chemistry Education listserve discussion group (1993-2005)
  • TLTR: Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable at Mesa Community College (2000)

Tools & Techniques (informing  the evolution of classroom practices)

  • Theories of learning for molecular visualization and animations in teaching
  • Information literacy, instructional technologies for faculty and student development
  • Metacognitive assessments to increase student motivation
  • Assessment strategies for student conceptual learning
  • Active learning and data driven strategies in lecture and laboratory

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Teaching and Learning (ongoing study)

  • Social-cultural effects on student and faculty attitudes about science
  • Perspectives on science from the history and philosophy of science
  • International perspectives on teaching and learning in science 
  • Alternative research traditions and practice in Education, Humanities, and Sociology of Science

Sabbatical Leave: "Software for Designing Interactive Chemistry Tutorials: Dreamweaver and Chime"

Professional Development Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, AU (Spring 1999)

Virtual Events

Professional Activities

American Chemical Society (ACS) Appointed member:

Committee on Computers in Chemical Education, Division of Chemical Education (2000-present) 

Blog Posts on HASTAC (2007-present) -

  • Upcoming: A Private Virtual World: Install an OpenSim on your Computer
  • Flickr as Network and History 
  • "teh interwebs" and Second Life
  • PARCians in Second Life
  • Immersed in Social/Virtual Media
  • Second Life Highlights
  • An Architect in the Metaverse
  • Chichen Itza in the Real and Virtual World
  • Mundaneum


"News from Online: What's New With Chime", Journal of Chemical Education, v79, n7, pp.778-782, July 2002

"Adventures in WebCT: Web-Enhanced Introductory Chemistry", Committee on Computers in Chemical Education Newsletter, Spring 2001

Conference Presentations (selected)

  • "Radical Effects on Learning: Transforming Communities and Practice", REESE PI Meeting (2011) - View this Poster about the 2011 GRC on Slideshare
  • " 'teh interwebs' - Live Collaboration across Second Life, Facebook, Twitter", Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE), Denton, TX (2010)
  • CINF Keynote: "International Perspectives: Visualization in Science and Education", American Chemical Society (ACS), San Francisco, CA (2010)
  • "Professional networking, learning, and communities in Second Life." American Chemical Society National Meeting (2009)
  • "Design (and Use) of Computer-Based Visualization and Animation: Learning Theories", American Chemical Society (ACS), Boston, MA (2008)
  • "History, Philosophy, and Theory in Visualization: Everything You Know is Wrong", Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education, Providence, RI (2007)
  • "MOLIT: The Molecular Literacy Project at The Concord Consortium", 19th International Conference on Chemical Education (ICCE), Seoul, Korea (2006)         
  • "Inside NSF: What do Program Officers do all Day?", 1st Year Chemistry International Conference, Urbana, Il (2005)             
  • "NSF: Introduction to the National Science Foundation", International Conference on Chemical Education (ICCE), Istanbul, Turkey (2004)           
  • "NSF Programs supporting Articulation and Transfer", Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, (BCCE) ACS-SOCED Symposium, Ames, IA (2004)
  • "Developing Instructional Web Pages with Chemscape Chime", Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, Bellingham, WA (2002)
  • "Adventures with WebCT", poster, Gordon Conference on ChemEd Research & Practice (2001) 
  • "Use of Vernier Probes and Laptop Computers in the Chemistry Laboratory", Kaleidoscope Project presentation, Mesa Community College, AZ (1997)
  • "Reviewing for the NSF", Maricopa Community College District workshop for grant writers (1993)

Professional Conferences

  • GRC: Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science & Education (Chair: 2011)
  • GRC: Gordon Research Conference on Chemical Education Research & Practice
  • ICCE: International Conference on Chemical Education
  • BCCE: Biennial Conference on Chemical Education
  • FYI: First Year International Chemistry Conference
  • HASTAC: Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaborative
  • PKAL: Project Kaleidoscope (
  • NSTA/SCST: National Science Teachers Association/Society of College Science Teachers
  • AERA: American Educational Research Association 
  • IHPST: International History and Philosophy of Science in Teaching 
  • 2YC3: Committee on Chemistry in the Two Year Colleges Conference
  • AAAS: American Association for the Advancement of Science 
  • AACC: American Association of Community Colleges
  • SHOT: Society for the History of Technology 
  • NECC - National Educational Computing Conference, Phoenix, AZ
  • NMC: New Media Consortium Summer Conference
  • Educause and Educause ELI

NSF Activities

Chemistry Program Director (EHR-DUE, 2003-2004)

Presentation for EHR Program Directors at NSF:  "Grownups on Facebook?" (2008)

NSF-DUE Sponsored National Conversations:

"What Does it Mean to be Educated in the 21st Century" 

Co-principal investigator for the Community College Conversation at Mesa Community College, May 2005 (one of five held nationally)

NSF Grant National Visiting Committee (2004-2008)

Molecular Literacy (MOLIT) Project, The Concord Consortium (online chemistry modules for biotechnology)

NSF Grant Advisory Boards: (2005-present)

  • POGIL Biochemistry: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (PI Vicky Minderhout, Seattle U)
  • Electron Technologies (PI Charles Xi, The Concord Consortium)
  • MATEC: Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (PI Mike Lesiecki, Maricopa Community Colleges)

NSF-DUE Grant Review Panels (1993-present)

  • ATE             Advanced Technological Education (2004-present)
  • NSDL          National STEM Digital Library (2006, 2010)
  • TUES          Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (2010-present)
  • CCLI           Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Instruction (2000-2009)
  • ILI                Instrumentation & Laboratory Improvement (1993-1997)
  • CCD/UFE   Course & Curriculum Development/Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement ('95)

"Funding Opportunities in the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education" (2003-2004)

  • Half-day workshop, Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE)
  • Community College Day at the National Science Foundation
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting, San Francisco, CA
  • Two Year College Chemistry Consortium (2YC3) meeting, Irvine, CA
  • Council on Resource Development (CRD) National Conference, Wash. DC 
  • Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS)



Northern Arizona University
  • Community College Issues: Student Affairs
  • Statistics in Education
  • Community College Issues: Academic Affairs, Northern Arizona University
  • The Adult Learner
  • Qualitative Research
  • Theories of Adult Learning
  • Community College Issues: Partnerships and Strategic Planning
  • Introduction to Educational Research
  • History of Education, Northern Arizona University (2002)
  • Higher Education in the United States (2001)
  • Theories of Learning (1998 - Arizona State University)

BS in Chemistry

Kansas State University

Work experience


PARC Communications Director & Education Specialist

Washington University

St. Louis, Missouri


Chemistry Faculty (tenured)

Maricopa County Community College District

Mesa Community College (1987-1990, 1993-2006)

Glendale Community College (1985-1987, 1990-1993)


EHR-DUE Program Director

National Science Foundation in Washington DC

Chemical Education


Chemistry Faculty

American International College

Springfield, Massachusetts


Chemistry Faculty

Shoreline Community College

Edmonds, Washington


Chemistry Faculty

Seattle Central Community College

Seattle, Washington


Chemistry Faculty

Diablo Valley College

Pleasant Hill, California

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