Undergraduate Research Program

Gillian Pereira

Gillian smiling in front of a fieldMajor: Materials Science and Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Kathleen Kieran, Urology

Contact: gpereira@uw.edu

Current research project: A Study on the Effects of Covid-19 on Pharmacies in Washington


Gillian is a Junior in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. She is interested in the intersection of engineering and the medical field. She is passionate about learning about and eliminating health care disparities all over the world, but is starting with those in Washington with her current research projects.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
My project studies how pharmacies all over Washington were affected by the Coronavirus.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I decided that I wanted to get involved in research at the end of my freshman year. I wrote a cover letter and resume and emailed two professors. I interviewed with both of them, but couldn’t decide which lab would be a better fit for me. One of the professors who I talked with gave me the contact info of a student who she had worked with a few years ago that I could talk to about his experience, before making my decision. He was also an engineering student interested in the medical field. Talking to him ultimately convinced me to go into research with his mentor. It was really helpful talking to an alum from her lab because he was able to explain to me how doing research with her enriched his specific educational experience. He explained to me that he really enjoyed doing research on healthcare disparities (despite it not involving any hands on engineering experience) because these topics are really important to learn about, but generally aren’t covered by engineering curriculum. He found that doing research not necessary inside the scope of his major helped him grow into a more well-rounded individual, and I wanted to experience a similar growth, which ultimately led me to my decision to do research with my current PI.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to start cold emailing! Make sure you have your resume and cover letter ready and then start emailing them to professors that you are interested in doing research with. You might not always get a response, but that is perfectly normal. All it takes is one reply to get your foot in the door!

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to current undergraduates or alum from the lab you are interested in. Taking to someone who has done research there can give you a look into what kinds of tasks you might be doing, and if this particular lab will be a good fit for you.