Undergraduate Research Program


Janice DeCosmo profile picJanice DeCosmo, PhD
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research;
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs

In addition to her role with URP, Janice is also an affiliate faculty member in the UW’s department of Earth and Space Sciences, having earned a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 specializing in atmosphere-ocean interaction. She has taught science at all grade levels from kindergarten through university, and more recently has focused on helping university faculty find ways to include undergraduates in their research and to integrate research into their teaching. Janice became director of URP in 2000. She is the campus representative and an elected councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), and an elected member of the board of governors of the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Her UW responsibilities include oversight of the Mary Gates Endowment for Students and providing leadership to the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity.


Sophie Pierszalowski, PhD

Sophie serves as Director of the Undergraduate Research Program. She received her Ph.D. in Science Education from Oregon State University (OSU), where her dissertation examined potential barriers to accessing undergraduate research experiences, including systemic and structural inequities that perpetuate opportunity gaps. Before joining URP, Sophie worked at OSU, first coordinating the OSU STEM Leaders Program and then later serving as Associate Director of OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts. Prior to pivoting to a career in student success, Sophie studied marine ecology and used 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. Her passion for marine mammals and molecular genetics began with an undergraduate research experience while completing her B.S. in Biology and Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at UW.

Click here to read Sophie’s recent publication, which highlights key strategies for building a more equitable and inclusive office of undergraduate research.

Click here to read Sophie’s recent publication, which explores barriers to accessing undergraduate research for STEM students and problematizes the lack of research on barriers specifically for Students of Color.

Click here to read Sophie’s recent publication, which explores one effective strategy for strengthening and supporting a large number of diverse undergraduate research programs at a research-intensive university.


Allison PerezAllison Perez
Coordinator & Adviser

NCUR Coordinator

Allison received her B.S. in BioResource Research with a focus in Toxicology at Oregon State University (OSU). For her undergraduate thesis, she investigated new methods to characterize metrics of fine particulate matter samples that could be used to identify health-relevant metrics. At OSU, Allison worked for the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador where she became passionate about mentorship and creating equitable access to research opportunities. Prior to joining URP, she served as an Americorps member with College Possible in Portland, OR, where she mentored low-income and first generation high school students through the college application process.


Pavithra Sundaravaradan
Undergraduate Staff Assistant

Pavithra is a senior majoring in Microbiology at the University of Washington. Her research interests include utilizing bioinformatics and wet lab techniques to better understand and tackle human disease. She is currently working on investigating organismal metabolic pathways of iron regulation during helminth infection following Type 2 immune response. She is also applying bioinformatics to analyze NGS data to better understand the Notch signaling pathway and its effects on basophil responses. Pavithra is also very passionate about promoting and advocating for women’s empowerment and equality.


Nisha smiling for the camera.Nisha BK
Undergraduate Staff Assistant

Nisha is a rising junior majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Washington. Her research interest lies in integrating her undergraduate education in neuroscience and research and its application for medical advancement. She previously worked with a PhD student at the Kelly Lab located in the School of Pharmacy on how Ochratoxin A (OTA) nephrotoxicity potentially causes Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu). Inspired by a course in cellular and molecular biology, she is now exploring other research labs and projects that serve her passion.