Faculty and Staff

Marilyn Duerst


Marilyn Duerst

Distinguished Lecturer



BA: St. Olaf College-1963
MS: University of California-Berkeley-1966

Courses Taught:

Chem 101: Elementary Principles of Chemistry (primarily for elementary and middle school education majors), an "SL" course 

Chem 100: Modern Alchemy (introductory chemistry for non-science majors), an "S" course 

Chem 121/122 General Chemistry lecture and laboratory 

Chem 770: "Chemical Demonstrations: Practice and Pedagogy" for high school teachers only in our MSE program, offered every three years in the summer

Research Interests:

My primary research efforts lie in the development and writing of experiments for introductory chemistry lab courses. I have been the editor of the Chemistry 101 laboratory manual since 1986 and a contributor to the General Chemistry 122 manual.

Writing children's mystery books that involve the reader in experimentation is my most recent hobby. I have recently published The Crimecracker Kids and the Bake Shop Break-in, with retired professor John Hill, a children’s mystery book in which the reader is directed to perform simple, safe experiments in the kitchen, as the mystery unfolds. Not until the final chapters is the reader sure of the identity of the kitchen powders stolen from the Bake Shop, and the field of suspects narrowed. You'll have to read the book and do the experiments in order to find out how the neighborhood kids dream up a plan to nail the thief at their small town's summer festival! Email me for further info!

Professional Activities:

Councilor representing the Minnesota Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) since about 2006.

National Chemistry Week (every October) and Chemists Celebrate Earth Day (every April) Coordinator for the Minnesota Section of the ACS.

Member of the Committee on Community Affairs (CCA) for the national ACS.

National “theme team” member for planning National Chemistry Week 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, and active contributor to “Celebrating Chemistry” publications for those events.

Chair, MN Section of the ACS, 2001-2002 and member of the Executive Committee since 2001


Selected Publications:

Marilyn D. Duerst and John W. Hill, The Crimecracker Kids and the Bake Shop Break-in, Gravel Pit Press, 1999

Marilyn D. Duerst,  Teachers Guide to "The Crimecracker Kids and the Bake Shop Break-In", 1999

Richard W. Duerst, Marilyn D. Duerst and W. L. Stebbings, "Transmission Infrared Spectroscopy", chapter in Modern Methods of Applied Molecular Spectroscopy, New York: Wiley, 1998.

Marilyn D. Duerst, "A Unique Elementary School-University Interactive Education Program", J. Chem. Educ. 67(12), 1031, 1990.

Marilyn D. Duerst, "A Simple Demonstration of Buffer Action", J. Chem. Educ., 62(5), 1985.

Selected Professional Presentations and Posters:

"Critical Components of a Chemistry Course for Pre-elementary Education Majors: The Evolution of a Course”, national ACS meeting, Boston, August  25, 2010.

“Color Revisited: An Experiment on Additive and Subtractive Colors using Biological Samples”, national ACS meeting, Boston, August 23, 2010.

"The Chemistry of Slime: Five Viscosity Experiments for All levels', National ACS meeting, August, 1999, New Orleans LA

"The Chemistry of Slime: Five Viscosity Experiments', by Marilyn D. Duerst, Kevin McLaughlin, Miaoqin Zhu, Mulugeta Serbesa, Anne Ziegler, Scholarly Activity Day, UWRF , May, 1999

"The Chemistry of Slime: A New General Chemistry Experiment', by Marilyn D. Duerst, Kevin McLaughlin, Miaoqin Zhu, Mulugeta Serbesa, Anne Ziegler, UW System Chemistry Faculties meeting, River Falls, Oct 1999 
"Mystery Solving as an Effective Way to Teach Elementary Science', WEST FEST (Wisconsin Elementary and Middle School Teachers organization), Oct 3, 1998.

"Is it Magic or is it Science?', International ChemEd Conference, Minneapolis, MN, August 5, 1997.

"Mystery Solving as an Exciting Mode of Teaching Elementary Science', International ChemEd Conference, Minneapolis, MN, August 3, 1997.

"The Fifty Minute Laboratory Experience for Non-Science Majors', National ACS meeting, Chicago, IL, August 1995

"Designing a Chemistry Course for Elementary Education Majors', National ACS meeting, Chicago, IL, August 1995.


For many years I ran summer workshops and consulted with numerous elementary, middle school and high school teachers (and school boards!) regarding the science curriculum. As a visiting woman scientist (alias "Madame Wizard"), I have given presentations to more than 8000 children in the two decades. I was involved for many years with UWRF’s Science Day, College Camp, College for Kids, and Teen University, and helped numerous children work on 4-H , Boy Scout and Girl Scout science badge activities. During the summers I have led science-based activities in quite a number of small town libraries as a part of their summer reading programs in Western Wisconsin, including Osceola, New Richmond, Somerset, Hammond, Altoona and River Falls.


Project Director: "Summer Science Institutes for Elementary Teachers" [Chem for Kids], NSF Teacher Enhancement grant, 1990-93, involving 142 teachers from 27 school districts, $234,000

Project Director: "NSF-UWRF Summer Science Institutes for K-3 Teachers", NSF Teacher Enhancement grant, 1994-98, involving 102 teachers from about 23 School districts, $487,000