Dr. Karsten Theis is a professor of Chemistry at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Dr. Theis discovered LibreTexts in 2017 after he adopted the OpenStax Chemistry textbook and was looking for an easy way for students to access portions of the text without having to download the entire book. Soon after, he helped to format the textbook Biochemistry: Free for All (Ahern, Rajagopal, and Tan) for LibreTexts, just in time to adopt it for his one-semester Biochemistry course.  When formatting existing text for LibreTexts, he utilizes a two-step editing process, first using a tool called Markdown to quickly add headers and then copying the HTML view into LibreTexts. 

This summer, Dr. Theis published twelve lab experiments (developed over the course of ten years for a one-semester GOB chemistry course, “Chemistry of the Life Sciences”) on LibreTexts, along with creating a map to the textbook by Frost, Deal and Timberlake. Due to the Covid pandemic, the Fall 2020 course will be delivered almost entirely online. It will be the first time Dr. Theis students’ will interact with a course site at LibreTexts.org; he has also prepared kits of materials for students to take back to their dorm rooms, or the kitchens at home, for activities offered in lieu of the chemistry lab. The activity manual includes a series of photos and a video to help introduce techniques in cases where a written explanation would be insufficient. One thing Dr. Theis appreciates about LibreTexts is having the flexibility to edit material as needed. He also believes that teaching materials such as slides, which have traditionally not been available as OER resources, are now becoming more common, thanks in part to LibreTexts.

Dr. Theis research interests include studying the interactions between proteins and nucleic acids using X-ray crystallography and NMR. He is also interested in a variety of educational issues, including using online tools to support learning in the sciences, quantitative problem solving, and using physical models of molecules.  He’s developed an online calculator for science students (PQcalc) that keeps track of significant figures and units, and he collaborates with chemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. (http://www.westfield.ma.edu/academics/chemistry-degrees/faculty-staff/karsten-theis)

If you’d like to learn more about the work Dr. Theis is doing with OER and LibreTexts, you can reach him by email here: ktheis@westfield.ma.edu.