Dr. Charlene Sorensen holds a Bachelor's degree from St. Andrew's Presbyterian College with majors in Chemistry and Comparative Religious Studies (1989). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. Her concentration was in the area of Physical Chemistry. The focus of her dissertation was statistical thermodynamics of grafted and free polymer chains in various solvent types.
From 1993 until 1996, she was an assistant professor at Pikeville College, a small private college in the Appalachian Mountains. In, 1996, she moved to Washington DC to teach at Gallaudet University. While teaching undergraduate chemistry courses, Dr. Sorensen has served as a mentor to many students, including those in pre-professional programs. Seeing the need for education about science as well as science education, she began going to elementary schools to give "Chemistry Magic shows" in an attempt to combat the misconception that chemistry is an elite subject that only highly intelligent and sophisticated people can enjoy. She found that many people, both men and women were intimidated by the reputation of science disciplines. She especially noticed that women were avoiding the sciences. As a result, she began meeting with a group of about nine girls and encouraged them, over the course of three years to investigate science.
Dr. Sorensen also helped establish the Urban Youth Leadership foundation for kids at risk. This included academic and spiritual support for kids in the inner city. She also has had grants to help promote interest in science and health profession fields, promote advancement in the field for underrepresented groups, and to assist individuals to obtain and successfully navigate the tenure track of a professorship.