Liesl McCormick, PhD

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Course Information

At Pacific University, all faculty teach a variety of different courses. Typically, we do not use graduate teaching assistants, which means that your classes will be taught by professors and that you will have plenty of opportunities to get to know the faculty in your discipline.

Below I have listed some of the courses that I teach. We are always developing and trying out new classes, so the list may change now and then.

Biology 160 | Special Topics: The Biology of Iron Man

Biology 200 | Flow of Energy

Biology 201 | Flow of Information

Biology 360 | Special Topics: Neurobiology


PhD in Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore in 2012

Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Carleton College, Northfield, Minn. in 2007

Teaching Philosophy

I love teaching biology, and I am passionate about making biology accessible and engaging for all students. As an undergraduate, and even as a graduate student, I had a difficult time choosing just one area of biology to focus on - although I am trained in developmental biology and neurobiology, I am fascinated by all areas of biology!

My goal for student learning is to help students develop the skill of scientific thinking. I encourage interaction in a number of different ways in my classroom, each of which engages students and allows them to practice scientific thinking. I especially enjoy incorporating real-life examples - like the pharmacology of commonly-prescribed medications, or the reality of popularized science in movies like Jurassic Park or Iron Man.

Research Interests

My experience in biology education involves designing and teaching a variety of courses for both biology majors and non-majors. I have been involved in several programs aimed at redesigning science courses to incorporate inquiry-based learning strategies, ultimately for the benefit of students. In particular, I am interested in developing assessments to not only quantify gains in student learning, but also evaluate the success of new teaching strategies.

Publications (as Liesl Van Ryswyk)

Seredick SD, Hutchinson SA, Van Ryswyk L, Talbot JC, Eisen JS (2014) Suppression of Kolmer-Agduhr interneuron characteristics within axial motoneurons by zebrafish Lhx3 and Lhx4. Development, 141: 3900-3909.

Van Ryswyk L, Simonson L, Eisen JS (2014) The role of inab in axon morphology of an identified zebrafish motoneuron. PLOS ONE, 9(2): e88631.

Seredick SD, Van Ryswyk L, Hutchinson SA, Eisen JS (2012) Zebrafish Mnx proteins specify one motoneuron subtype and suppress acquisition of interneuron characteristics. Neural Development, 7(35).

Wilkes DE, Bennardo N, Chan CW, Chang YL, Corpuz EO, DuMond J, Eboreime JA, Erickson J, Hetzel J, Heyer EE, Hubenschmidt MJ, Kniazeva E, Kuhn H, Lum M, Sand A, Schep A, Sergeeva O, Supab N, Townsend CR, Van Ryswyk L, Watson, HE, Wiedeman AE, Rajagopalan V, Asai, DJ (2009) Identification and characterization of dynein genes in Tetrahymena. Methods Cell Biol, 92: 11-30.

Office Location: 
Douglas C. Strain Science Center 205 (Forest Grove)
Area of Study I Teach (Undergraduate):