Several studies in recent years have demonstrated that upper-division students struggle with partial derivatives and the complicated chain rules ubiquitous in thermodynamics. We asked several experts (primarily faculty who teach thermodynamics) to solve a challenging and novel thermodynamics problem in order to understand how they navigate through this maze. What we found was a tremendous variety in solution strategies and sense-making tools, both within and between individuals. This case study focuses on one particular expert: his solution paths, use of sense-making tools, and comparison of different approaches.

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