Molly S Bolger
- Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
- Ph.D. Cell Biology
- Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
- Complement in the Unique Immune System of the Lung
- B.S. Biochemistry
- Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
- Assisstant Professor, University of Arizona (2011 - Ongoing)
- Adjunct Professor, David Lipscomb University (2008 - 2009)
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University (2006 - 2011)
- College of Science, Innovation in Teaching Award
- University of Arizona, College of Science, Fall 2016
My research aim is to improve STEM education by investigating student reasoning and applying findings to create learning environments designed around students’ abilities and needs. My research focuses on undergraduate biology students and future K-12 teachers. A key theme of much of my work is engaging students in authentic scientific practices, including explanation construction, data interpretation and modeling. Overall, my approach spans from basic questions about how students understand biological concepts to more applied questions about instructional design. My research group investigates the forms of reasoning that scientists and students use when they create and use models to explain novel phenomenon. In particular, we are interested in mechanistic reasoning and visual spatial reasoning. We are trying to understand more about how students learn to use models to interpret experimental data as well as adapt their models to fit new experimental data. We are also interested in how those who are being trained to teach in science gain expertise in assessment reasoning. Specifically, we seek to understand the ways in which novice teachers view students’ ideas and how their ability to understand and utilize those ideas can be developed. We have conducted two classroom-based projects in which we developed and tested novel curricular designs to engage undergraduate biology students in scientific practices. TRIM (Teaching Real-Data Interpretation with Models) was developed for an upper-division cell and developmental biology course and is based on students using models to interpret data figures from published research. AIM-Bio (Authentic Inquiry through Modeling in Biology) is currently under development for an introductory level laboratory course and is based on students constructing models to explain phenomena and conducting experiments to test and refine their models.
Cell&Development BiologyMCB 305 (Spring 2018)
Honors Independent StudyMCB 499H (Spring 2018)
Special Tutoring WkshpMCB 497A (Spring 2018)
Directed RsrchMCB 492 (Fall 2017)
Honors Independent StudyMCB 499H (Fall 2017)
Intro Biology I LabMCB 181L (Fall 2017)
Introduction to ResearchMCB 795A (Fall 2017)
MCB Special Topics SeminarMCB 396 (Fall 2017)
Special Tutoring WkshpMCB 497A (Fall 2017)
Directed RsrchMCB 492 (Spring 2017)
DissertationMCB 920 (Spring 2017)
Honors Independent StudyMCB 399H (Spring 2017)
Independent StudyMCB 399 (Spring 2017)
Intro Biology I LabMCB 181L (Spring 2017)
Lab Presentations & DiscussionMCB 696A (Spring 2017)
Special Tutoring WkshpMCB 497A (Spring 2017)
Cell&Development BiologyMCB 305 (Fall 2016)
Directed RsrchMCB 492 (Fall 2016)
DissertationMCB 920 (Fall 2016)
Independent StudyMCB 499 (Fall 2016)
Lab Presentations & DiscussionMCB 696A (Fall 2016)
Special Tutoring WkshpMCB 497A (Fall 2016)
- Burd, G. D., Burd, G. D., Tomanek, D. J., Tomanek, D. J., Blowers, P., Blowers, P., Bolger, M. S., Bolger, M. S., Cox, J., Cox, J., Elfring, L. K., Elfring, L. K., Grubbs, E. A., Grubbs, E. A., Hunter, J., Hunter, J., Johns, K. A., Johns, K. A., Lazos, L., , Lazos, L., et al. (2015). Developing faculty cultures for evidence-based teaching practices in STEM: A progress report.. In Transforming Institutions: 21st Century Undergraduate STEM. West Lafayette, IN.: Purdue University Press.
- Southard, K., Espindola, M., Zaepfel, S., & Bolger, M. S. (2017). Generative Mechanistic Explanation Building in Undergraduate Molecular and Cellular Biology. International Journal of Science Education, 39(13), 1795-1829.
- Ufnar, J., Bolger, M. S., & Shepherd, V. (2017). A retrospective study of a Scientist in the Classroom Partnership Program. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 21(3).
- Kim, D., & Bolger, M. S. (2016). Analysis of Korean Elementary Pre-Service Teachers’ Changing Attitudes About Integrated STEAM Pedagogy Through Developing Lesson Plans. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1-6. doi:10.1007/s10763-015-9709-3
- Southard, K., Wince, T., Meddleton, S., & Bolger, M. S. (2016). Features of Knowledge Building in Biology: Understanding Undergraduate Students' Ideas about Molecular Mechanisms. CBE Life Sciences Education, 15, 1-16.
- Zagallo, P., shanice, M., & Bolger, M. S. (2016). Teaching Real Data Interpretation with Models (TRIM): Analysis of Student Dialog in a Large-Enrollment, Cell and Developmental Biology Course. CBE: Life Sciences Education.
- Talanquer, V. A., Bolger, M. S., & Tomanek, D. J. (2015). Exploring Prospective Teachers’ Assessment Practices: Noticing and Interpreting Student Understanding in the Assessment of Written Work. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(5), 585-609.
- Talanquer, V., Bolger, M. S., & Tomanek, D. (2015). Exploring Prospective Teachers’ Assessment Practices: Noticing and Interpreting Student Understanding in the Assessment of Written Work.. Journal or Research in Science Teaching, 52(5), 585-609.
- Bolger, M. S., Kobiela, M., Weinberg, P. J., & Lehrer, R. (2012). Children's mechanistic reasoning. Cognition and Instruction, 30(2), 170-206.More infoAbstract: Reasoning about mechanisms is one of the hallmarks of disciplined inquiry in science and engineering, but comparatively little is known about its precursors and development. Children at grades 2 and 5 predicted and explained the motion of simple mechanical systems composed entirely of visible linkages (levers). Students' explanations of device behavior suggested four forms of knowledge: simple recognition of device components, noting of structural relations among components, construction of cause-effect rules derived by observation of regularities in device behavior, and identification of essential system components and interactions among components that accounted for cause-effect rules. Only a few children coordinated multiple essential components to constitute a mechanistic causal scheme. Mechanistic causal schemes, in turn, were associated with successful prediction of the output motion of a system. Device tracing via gesture and talk appeared to support this form of knowledge development, and hence may inform future instructional design. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
- Bolger, M., Kobiela, M., Weinberg, P., & Lehrer, R. (2010). Embodied experiences within an engineering curriculum. Learning in the Disciplines: ICLS 2010 Conference Proceedings - 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, 1, 706-713.More infoAbstract: Although simple mechanisms are commonplace, reasoning about how they work - mechanistic reasoning - is often challenging. To foster mechanistic reasoning, we engaged students in the third- and sixth-grades in the design of kinetic toys that consisted of systems of linked levers. To make the workings of these systems more visible, students participated in forms of activity that we conjectured would afford bodily experience of some of the properties of these mechanisms: constraint and rotary motion. Students progressively re-described and inscribed these embodied experiences as mathematical systems. We report a microgenetic study of one case study student, tracing how embodying and mathematizing motion supported the development of reasoning about how levered systems work.
- Bolger, M., Kobiela, M., Weinberg, P., & Lehrer, R. (2009). Analysis of children' mechanistic reasoning about linkages and levers in the context of engineering design. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.More infoAbstract: Reasoning about mechanisms is one of the hallmarks of disciplined inquiry in science and engineering. Despite the central importance of mechanistic reasoning, its origins are not well understood. Numerous curricular efforts involve simple machines and related physical systems, but these do not yet build toward a systematic and longer-term vision for promoting the development of reasoning about mechanisms. The research we describe here was developed in partnership with a team of engineers and science educators who aim to support the early development of mechanistic reasoning through a curriculum that challenges children to design kinetic toys called MechAnimations. Our research aims to characterize the intellectual resources available to children as they engage in design challenges and to describe the process by which these design activities may promote development of mechanistic reasoning. This paper provides an in-depth look at children's prior understandings of a key aspect of MechAnimation design -the mechanics of linkages and levers. In a flexible interview, 9 children at grades 2 and 5 were asked to predict and explain the motion of mechanical linkages. Children explored contrasting pairs of mechanisms, chosen to highlight components of the system important to its functioning (such as the location of the fulcrum in relation to the input). As one might expect, many student responses focused on aspects of the mechanical system that were not oriented toward its function. For example, "it looks like a plus sign." However, children also exhibited more sophisticated thinking, such as describing the parts and structure of the mechanisms. The most sophisticated student responses included mechanistic descriptions of how the parts and structure worked to: constrain motion, affect the direction of rotation, coordinate the direction of motion for input and output levers, coordinate the movement of lever arms, and affect the magnitude of motion. Overall, children who more readily tended to relations between input and output seemed better able to predict mechanism motion. All children demonstrated at least some elements of mechanistic thinking, but many of their responses lacked coordination of multiple elements. When children coordinated multiple elements, they were also more likely to successfully predict the motion of one or more outputs, given an input. Children who predicted incorrectly tended to exhibit mechanistic reasoning only after observing the mechanisms move, if at all. Although designed to ascertain children's' naive ideas about mechanisms, certain aspects of the interviews seemed to support the development of elements of mechanistic reasoning. For example, comparing the motion of contrasting mechanisms helped some children notice relevant variables not apparent before the contrast. These results suggest methods for characterizing mechanistic reasoning as well as potential resources for supporting its development. We anticipate that the latter may profitably be incorporated into design challenges. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2009.
- Bolger, M. S., Ross, D. S., Jiang, H., Frank, M. M., Ghio, A. J., Schwartz, D. A., & Wright, J. R. (2007). Complement levels and activity in the normal and LPS-injured lung. American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 292(3), L748-L759.More infoPMID: 17071722;Abstract: Complement, a complex protein system, plays an essential role in host defense through bacterial lysis, stimulation of phagocytosis, recruitment of immune cells to infected tissue, and promotion of the inflammatory response. Although complement is most well-characterized in serum, complement activity is also present in the lung. Here we further characterize the complement system in the normal and inflamed lung. By Western blot, C5, C6, and factor I were detected in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) at lower levels than in serum, whereas C2 was detected at similar levels in BAL and serum. C4 binding protein (C4BP) was not detectable in BAL. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) elevated levels of C1q, factor B, C2, C4, C5, C6, and C3 in human BAL and C3, C5, and factor B in mouse and rat BAL. Message for C1q-B, C1r, C1s, C2, C4, C3, C5, C6, factor B, and factor H, but not C9 or C4BP, was readily detectable by RT-PCR in normal mouse lung. Exposure to LPS enhanced factor B expression, decreased C5 expression, and did not affect C1q-B expression in mouse and rat lung. BAL from rats exposed to LPS had a greater ability to deposit C3b onto bacteria through complement activation than did BAL from control rats. In summary, these data demonstrate that complement levels, expression, and function are altered in acute lung injury and suggest that complement within the lung is regulated to promote opsonization of pathogens and limit potentially harmful inflammation.
- Smithers, M. B. (2002). Surfactant Protein A Enhances the Phagocytosis of C1q-Coated particles by Alveolar Macrophages.. American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 283, L1011-L1022.More infoCo-First Author
- Bolger, M. S., Hester, S., Nadler, M., Elfring, L., & Katcher, J. (2018, Spring). Supporting Generative Reasoning in an Undergraduate Laboratory Course through a ModelBased-Inquiry. National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Atlanta, GA.
- Bolger, M. S. (2017, February). Researching Model-Based Instruction to Enhance Student Learning in Biology. Invited Talk - Arizona State University.
- Cox, J., Elfring, L. K., & Bolger, M. S. (2017, January). The University of Arizona AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project. Society for the Advancement of Biology Education - WEST.
- Hester, S., Dykstra, E., Elfring, L., Katcher, J., Pepic, V., Nadler, M., White, C., & Bolger, M. S. (2017, July). Model-Based Inquiry in an Introductory Biology Laboratory Course. Society for Advancement of Biology Education Research. University of Minnesota.
- Bolger, M. S. (2016, August). Researching Model-Based Instruction to Enhance Student Learning in Biology. Invited Talk - Purdue University.
- Hester, S. D., Southard, K. M., Wince, T., Elfring, L. K., Nagy, L. M., & Bolger, M. S. (2016, July). Probabilistic Reasoning in Undergraduate Genetics ProblemSolving. Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research.
- Southard, K. M., Zaepfel, S., Espindola, M., & Bolger, M. S. (2016, July). Creative Thinking about Novel Biological Phenomena: Fostering Generative Mechanistic Reasoning among Undergraduates. Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research.
- Zagallo, P. D., Zaepfel, S., & Bolger, M. S. (2016, July). Investigating how students create and use models to interpret authentic biological data in the context of the TRIM (Teaching Real data Interpretation using Models) curriculum. Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research.
- Bolger, M. S. (2015, December). The Model-Data Intersection: Teaching with Authentic Data in a Large-Enrollment Cell Biology Course. Invited Talk - American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting. San Diego.More infoDescribing instructional intervention and research to biology faculty
- Bolger, M. S., Zagallo, P., & Meddleton, S. (2015, summer). Uncovering Students’ Use of Scientific Practices to Interpret Data in a Large Enrollment Cell Biology Class. Society for Advancement of Biology Education Research. Minneapolis, MN.
- Southard, K., Wince, T., Meddleton, S., & Bolger, M. S. (2015, Summer). Using Knowledge Integration as a New Lens for Understanding Undergraduate Ideas about Molecular Mechanisms. Society for Advancement of Biology Education Research. Minneapolis, MN.
- Zagallo, P., Meddleton, S., & Bolger, M. S. (2015, Spring). Investigating Student Interpretation of Authentic Biological Data through Argumentation and Use of Models. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Chicago.
- Blowers, P., Burd, G. D., Bolger, M. S., Johns, K. A., Lazos, L., Lysecky, R. L., Milsom, J. A., Novodvorsky, I., Pollard, J. R., Prather, E. E., Talanquer, V. A., Thamvichai, R., Tharp, H. S., Wallace, C. S., Cox, J., Elfring, L., Grubbs, E., & Hunter, J. (2014). Developing Faculty Cultures for Evidence-Based Teaching Practices in STEM: A Progress Report. Transforming Institution: 21st Century STEM Undergraduate Education Conference. Indianapolis, IN: AAU-STEM.
- Blowers, P., Burd, G. D., Bolger, M. S., Pollard, J. R., & Prather, E. E. (2014, November). Leading Institutional Change Through Faculty Support and Engagement with Administrators: Use of Evidence Based Teaching Practices. AIChE National Conference. Atlanta, GA: AIChE.
- Bolger, M. S. (2014, Fall). A Castle is More Than a Pile of Stones: Investigating Development of Scientific Expertise among Undergraduates.. Invited Talk - University of Arizona Physics Department Research Seminar. University of Arizona Physics Department.
- Bolger, M. S. (2014, Summer). How People Learn: Examples from Research with Undergraduate Biology Students. Invited Talk - National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education - Mountain West. University of Colorado-Boulder.
- Bolger, M. S., Southard, K., & Wince, T. (2014, Spring). Knowledge Building in Undergraduate Molecular Genetics: Exploring Student Knowledge Integration and Mechanistic Reasoning. Paper presented at annual meeting of National Association of Research in Science Teaching. Pittsburg, PA.
- Bolger, M. S., Talanquer, V., & Tomanek, D. (2014, Spring). Prospective Science Teachers' Inferences about Student Understanding.. Paper presented at annual meeting of National Association of Research in Science Teaching. Pittsburg, PA.
- Bolger, M. S. (2013, Spring). How do Students Really Understand Biology? Models as Tools for Integrating Knowledge. Invited talk - University of Georgia. University of Georgia.
- Bolger, M. S., Kuner, S., Crouch, R., Willis, J., Robinson, D., Ufnar, J., & Shepherd, V. (2012, Summer). Do Scientists Belong in the K-12 Science Classroom. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Educaitonal Research Association. Vancourver, BC.
- Bolger, M. S., Ufnar, J., Kuner, S., Robinson, D., Crouch, B., Willis, J., Willis, M., & Shepherd, V. (2012, Spring). Connections to the K-12 Community that Shape the Career of Future Science Educators: A Longitudinal Study of Former Participants in a GK-12 Program. Paper presented at annual meeting of National Association of Research in Science Teaching. Indianapolis.
- Bolger, M. S., Kobiela, M., Weinberg, P., & Rouse, R. (2011, Summer). Mathematization and embodiment for reasoning about mechanism within an engineering curriculum. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Jean Piaget Society. Berkeley, CA.
- Bolger, M. S., Weinberg, P., Kobiela, M., Lehrer, R., & Rouse, R. (2011, Spring). Embodied Experiences as a Resource for Children's Mechanistic Reasoning in an Engineering Curriculum. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Orlando, FL.
- Bolger, M. S., Kobiela, M., Weinberg, P., & Lehrer, R. (2010, Summer). Mathematizing an Engineering Curriculum. Paper presented at P-12 Engineering and Design, Education Research Summit. Seaside, OR.
- Bolger, M. S., Singer-Gabella, M., Kindfield, A., & Palmeri, A. (2008, Spring). Practice and Pedagogies in Undergraduate Science. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Educaitonal Research Association. New York, NY.