Susan A. Kirch

Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning

Susan A. Kirch


Susan Kirch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Professor Kirch is a science educator and a biologist. Her research includes: investigations of teaching and learning science in urban elementary schools and studies of teacher learning in the areas of science and inclusion. Kirch has participated in a variety of initiatives designed to bring teachers, K-12 students, educational researchers and scientists together to study access to science and the nature of scientific inquiry and she has published chapters and articles on school funding, inclusion, feminist pedagogy, co-teaching, and discourse in elementary school classrooms in journals such as Science Education, School Science and Mathematics, Cultural Studies of Science Education, and the Journal of Science Teacher Education among others. Dr. Kirch currently studies how elementary school children learn the nature of scientific evidence through activities that feature contemporary questions and issues in science (The Scientific Thinker Project: Teaching and Learning the Nature of Scientific Evidence in Elementary School is funded by the NSF).

In addition to her research program Dr. Kirch has taught courses for undergraduate and graduate (MA, MS, and Ph.D.) students including: biology, immunology, neurobiology, life science for teachers, environmental literature, research issues in science, math and technology education, and general science curriculum and instruction courses.

Dr. Kirch began her career as a molecular and cellular biologist and has published research papers in Science, Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the European Molecular Biology Organization Journal among others. She received a bachelor's degree with honors in biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College in 1989 and completed her doctorate in cellular and developmental biology at Harvard University in 1996. Dr. Kirch first became interested in the science education of teachers and young people when she participated as a scientist in the classroom with the UCSF Science and Health Education Partnership from 1998-2001 when she was an NIH post-doctoral scholar and HHMI fellow studying the development of the nervous system at the University of California, San Francisco.

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. Harvard University 1996
    Cell and Developmental Biology (specialization: molecular immunology)
  • B.A. Mount Holyoke College 1989
    Biochemistry (cum laude)


Current Courses in Science

  • LIBAR-UE 0141 - Science in the community (undergraduate)
Current Courses in Education

  • SCIED-GE 2010 - Science experiences in the elementary school II (graduate, masters)
  • CHDED-UE 1141 - Integrating curricula in science and health in childhood education (undergraduate)
  • E14.2300 - Historical perspectives in science education research (graduate, doctoral) 
  • E14.2300 - Theory development and application in science education research (graduate, doctoral)
  • TCHL-GE 3037 - Teaching and Learning Doctoral Proseminar (graduate, doctoral) 

Selected Publications

  • Kirch, S.A. and Amoroso, M.A. (under contract). Teaching and learning science with young children. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Kirch, S.A. (in press, 2010). Understanding scientific uncertainty as a teaching and learning goal. In B. Fraser, C. McRobbie, and K. Tobin (Eds.) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Kirch, S.A. (in press). Identifying and resolving uncertainty as a mediated action in science: A comparative analysis of the cultural tools used by scientists and elementary science students at work. Science Education.
  • Milne, C.E., Kirch, S.A., Basu, S.J., Leou, M., Fraser Abder, P. (2008). Understanding conceptual change: connecting and questioning, Cultural Studies of Science Education, 3(2), 417-434.
  • Kirch, S.A. (2007). Re/production of science process skills and a scientific ethos in an early childhood classroom. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(4), 785-815.
  • Kirch, S.A. (2007). Skepticism and open-mindedness for learning, teaching and criticality in science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(4), 841-845.
  • Kirch, S.A. (2007). Considering authenticity criteria for studying cultural transitions by uncovering cover stories. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(1), 254-258.
  • Kirch, S.A. and Hunter, M. (2007). Campaign for fiscal equity: The journey toward school funding reform in New York State and beyond. In A. Salz & H. Johnson (Eds.) What is authentic educational reform? Pushing against the compassionate conservative agenda, pp. 135-154. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
  • Kirch, S.A., Bargerhuff, M., Turner, H., Wheatly, M. (2007). Reflections of educators in pursuit of inclusive science classrooms. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18(4), 663-692.
  • Amoroso, M. and Kirch, S.A. (2006). Get rocks in your head! In K. Tobin (Ed.) Science Education: A Handbook, pp. 447-452. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.
  • Kirch, S.A. and Martin, S. (in press, written 2006). Taking women students seriously: Employing inclusive approaches to teacher education in primary science. In K. Scantlebury, J. Butler Kahle, S. Martin, and S.-K. LaVan (Eds.) Re-visioning Science Education from Feminist Perspectives: Choices, Challenges, and Careers. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Kirch, S.A. and Amoroso, M. (2006). A matter of timing: Learning about the impact of environmental changes on animal migration. In K. Tobin (Ed.) Science Education: A Handbook, pp. 439-446. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.
  • Kirch, S.A., Bargerhuff, M., Turner, H., Wheatly, M. (2005). Inclusive science education: Classroom teacher and science educator experiences in class workshops. School Science and Mathematics, 105(4), 175-197.
  • Bargerhuff, M., Kirch, S.A., Wheatly, M. (2004). Collaborating with CLASS: Creating laboratory access for science students with disabilities. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 9(2).
  • Zallen, J.A., Kirch, S.A., Bargmann, C.I. (1999). Genes required for axon pathfinding and extension in the C. elegans nerve ring. Development, 126(16), 3679-3692.
  • Kirch, S.A., Rathbun, G.A., Oettinger, M.A. (1998). Dual role for RAG2 in V(D)J recombination: catalysis and regulation of ordered Ig gene assembly. European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Journal, 17(16), 4881-4886.
  • Kirch, S.A., Sudarsanam, P., Oettinger, M.A. (1996). Regions of RAG1 protein critical for V(D)J recombination. European Journal of Immunology, 26(4), 886-891.
  • Liu, Z., Kirch, S.A., Ambros, V.A. (1995). The Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic gene pathway controls stage-specific transcription of collagen genes. Development, 121(8), 2471-2478.
  • Cuomo, C.A., Kirch, S.A., Gyuris, J., Brent, R., Oettinger, M.A. (1994). Rch1, a protein that specifically interacts with the RAG-1 recombination-activating protein. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 91(13), 6156-60.
  • Burke, D.H., Raubeson, L.A., Alberti, M., Hearst, J.E., Jordan, E.T., Kirch, S.A., Valinski, A.E.C., Conant, D.S., and Stein, D.B. (1993). The chlL(frxC) gene: phylogenetic distribution in vascular plants and DNA sequence from Polystichum acrostichoides (Pteridophyta) and Synechococcus sp. 7002 (Cyanobacteria). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 187(1-4), 89-102.
  • Hsu T., Gogos, J.A., Kirch, S.A., Kafatos, F.C. (1992). Multiple zinc finger forms resulting from developmentally regulated alternative splicing of a transcription factor gene. Science, 257(5078), 1946-50.
  • Stein, D.B., Conant, D.S., Ahearn, M.E., Jordan, E.T., Kirch, S.A., Hasebe, M., Iwatsuki K., Tan, M.K., Thomson, J.A. (1992). Structural rearrangements of the chloroplast genome provide an important phylogenetic link in ferns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 89(5): 1856-60.