Dr. Sophie Pierszalowski currently serves as Director of the University of Washington’s Undergraduate Research Program. She has explored the scholarship of undergraduate research since 2014 when she was hired to develop and coordinate the Oregon State University (OSU) STEM Leaders Program, an NSF-funded undergraduate research program for first-year students from underserved groups, including first-generation college students and Students of Color. She then went on to serve as Associate Director of OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts. She has published a variety of articles related to undergraduate research (listed below). Specifically, her work focuses on leveraging the undergraduate research experience as an educational practice to promote equity and inclusion in higher education. For example, her most recent publication provides a systematic review of barriers to accessing undergraduate research for STEM students and problematizes the lack of research on potential barriers specifically for STEM Students of Color. She has also spent considerable time studying the importance and effectiveness of undergraduate research mentorship. She was awarded an Advancing Research Impact in Society Fellowship in 2020 to develop a roadmap for mentoring undergraduates in research in ways that are inclusive, with the goal of promoting effective mentorship to broaden participation and impact in STEM. She delivers seminars and workshops related to inclusive mentorship across the country.
Prior to pivoting to a career in student success, Sophie studied marine ecology and employed molecular genetics and demographics to investigate long-standing questions regarding the ecology and population structure of humpback whales in the North Pacific. She received her M.Sc. in Wildlife Science from OSU in 2014 and her Ph.D. in Science Education from OSU in 2019. Her dissertation examined potential barriers to accessing undergraduate research experiences, including systemic and structural inequities that perpetuate opportunity gaps.
- Pierszalowski S, James G, Fetherstonhaugh G, Cheung I, Chappell P, Engels J, Plaza D, Ramos S, & López-Cevallos D. (In press). Communities of practice in academic administration: An example from managing undergraduate research at a research-intensive university. Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education.
- Pierszalowski S, Bouwma-Gearhart, J., & Marlow, L. (2021). A Systematic Review of Barriers to Accessing Undergraduate Research for STEM Students: Problematizing Under-Researched Factors for Students of Color. Social Sciences, 10(9), 328.
- Pierszalowski S & Buser, T. (2021). Mentoring the next generation: Using undergraduate research to broaden engagement and impact in STEM. Center for Advancing Research Impacts in Society: Fellows Series.
- Pierszalowski S, Smith F, & López-Cevallos D. (2020). Research experiences for all undergraduate students? Building a more equitable and inclusive office of undergraduate research at a land-grant institution. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 52(6), 38-47.
- Pierszalowski S, Heinonen G, Ulman B, & López-Cevallos D. (2020). Developing a virtual undergraduate research symposium in response to COVID-19 disruptions: Building a Canvas-based shared platform and pondering lessons learned. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research, 4(1), 75.
- Pierszalowski S, Vue, R., & Bouwma-Gearhart, J. (2018). Overcoming barriers in access to high quality education after matriculation: Promoting strategies and tactics for engagement of underrepresented groups in undergraduate research via institutional diversity action plans. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 19(1).