Beginning and Becoming: Introduction and Invitation

Rissa (and her wife) at Hotel Santa Fe Getting Ready for the Opera

Hi everyone! My name is Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh, and I am a new Lead Contributor/Blogger for the Two-Year College component of ChemEd Xchange. While I am new to ChemEd Xchange, I’m not new to blogging or the chemistry community in person or online. I’ve been teaching chemistry in face-to-face and online formats at Central New Mexico Community College since 2002. My website1 houses my personal blog and other interesting information about me, my YouTube channel is where I’ve uploaded recorded video lectures, and my Twitter handle (@RissaChem) is where I publicly engage with my STEM colleagues (hello #ChemTwitter!). This year, I’m a fellow for the Digital Pedagogy Lab, where I’m facilitating an in-person and virtual workshop on “Critical (Digital) Pedagogy and STEM” (more details here) and live-tweeting/blogging as much of the event as possible (so please join in the conversation if you can!).

I’m active in the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Education, and I serve on several committees for the Division, including the BCC (Biennial Conference Committee), the Board of Publication (as an Associate), and the Strategic Task Force for Public Relations. I’ve presented several talks and hosted many symposia for the division at National Meetings and BCCEs, the latest of which was a joint session on “Communicating Chemistry via Social Media” at BCCE 2018 hosted by the ACS BCC and the RSC TEG (now the Higher Education Group) that was both virtual and in-person. I’m also a published author, with a chapter2 – “A Reflective Teaching Evolution: Using Social Media for Teaching Reflection and Student Engagement” – in Communicating Chemistry Through Social Media3, an ACS Symposium Series book I co-edited, and another chapter in Susan Blum’s forthcoming ungrading book, which you can read more about in several recent articles/blogs published regarding the book4,5.

I’m also currently a dual-program graduate student (M.S. Statistics, Ph.D. Learning Sciences) at the University of New Mexico. During the course of my graduate studies, I’ve learned that I’m a mixed methods educational researcher (which means I interweave both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in my research), and my research interests including assessment, evaluation, and the use of social media in the classroom. I have a fair amount of experience with educational research as well, having conducted several projects and having served on CNM’s IRB (Institutional Research Board) since 2014.

So, um, yep. I’ve been active in the overall community for awhile.

I am beyond thrilled, though, to join ChemEd Xchange and learn more about your interests on this platform. Perhaps we can help each other explore those interests further. I believe blogging is both discourse and an invitation to conversation. So this is the invitation – I would love to hear your comments, questions, things you’d like to know more about, etc. I think of this blog as our discussion prompt and a bridge to a larger conversation about chemistry, pedagogy, and research. I am hoping you, as the audience, will help guide the topics I write about so that we can focus our discussions to interests both you and I share.


  1. Sorensen-Unruh, C. Reflective Teaching Evolution, 2018. (accessed July 31, 2019).

  2. Sorensen-Unruh, C. A Reflective Teaching Evolution: Using Social Media for Teaching Reflection and Student Engagement. In Communicating Chemistry Through Social Media; Sorensen-Unruh, C. & Gupta, T. (Eds.); ACS Symposium Series 1274; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2018; pp. 35–59.

  3. Sorensen-Unruh, C. & Gupta, T. (Eds.). Communicating Chemistry Through Social Media; ACS Symposium Series 1274; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2018.

  4. Supiano, B. (2019, July 19). Grades Can Hinder Learning. What Should Professors Use Instead? [Blog post].  Retrieved from

  5. Flaherty, C. (2019, April 2). When Grading Less Is More [Blog post]. Retrieved from