Undergraduate Research Program

Meet our Team

For general inquiries, contact urp@uw.edu. Also learn about our team of Undergraduate Research Leaders (URLs) who conduct outreach with the URP and are available to share their experiences with other undergraduates.

StaffAdaline Lee

Adaline Lee
Advisor & Program Coordinator 

Adaline received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Education, Learning, and Societies from the University of Washington. With 2 years of student advising experience and working to build DEIA initiatives, she prioritizes building safe spaces and promoting opportunities in education for underrepresented communities. Within research, Adaline is passionate about breaking down barriers such as promoting research opportunities for BIPOC and low-income students, and students outside of STEM. Prior to working at UW’s Undergraduate Research Program, she worked in client marketing and project management and is excited to utilize her analytical mindset to drive efficiencies and work with students to provide resources and develop plans for success.

alee729@uw.edu

Allison PerezAllison Perez
Program Manager

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.

allperez@uw.edu

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.

jdecosmo@uw.edu

Sophie Pierszalowski, PhD
Director

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.

sophpier@uw.edu

Tracy Nyerges
Associate Director of Special Projects

Tracy returned to URP to serve as the Acting Associate Director for the ’21-22 academic year. She previously worked with URP for over eight years and left the Assistant Director position in 2015. Tracy more recently held the inaugural Assistant Director position for Undergraduate Research with the College Center for Research and Fellowships (CCRF) at the University of Chicago. She helped to develop and administer centralized college undergraduate research support and programming while at UChicago. Tracy has a long professional history in higher education administration and has also worked in academic, co-curricular, and research staff positions at Northwestern University, University of Vermont, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Missouri. Tracy has an MSW in direct practice health from the UW and utilizes her social work background to successfully work with students from diverse backgrounds and academic fields.

tnyerges@uw.edu

Student Staff

Jenny Kim
Graduate Staff Assistant

Jenny is a Master of Public Health student in the Health Services program at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Whitman College where she conducted research on the impact of racial diversity on social cognitive processes related to attitudes, behaviors, and categorization. Her undergraduate thesis explored factors that impact how students of color perceive their institution’s commitment to diversity. She is excited to weave psychological science into her public health work with the focus of advancing health equity among underrepresented, immigrant populations. Jenny is also passionate about the power of mentorship in reducing barriers to research/internship opportunities for underrepresented students.

jkjenny@uw.edu

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.

nishasen@uw.edu

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.

pavitsun@uw.edu

Sophie Higdon
Event Coordination Intern

Sophie is in her first year as a Master of Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership candidate at UW. She attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan for her undergraduate degree where she received her B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology/Sociology. She also studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying Positive Psychology and Urban Planning. Her senior thesis centered around the importance of play for people of all ages and how important it is to design play spaces into the fabric of cities. She is excited to join the URP to advance the mission of making undergraduate experiential opportunities equitable and accessible to all students regardless of background, interest, or previous experiences. Sophie is passionate about leadership education, getting outside, playing ultimate frisbee, and never following a recipe when cooking.

sophhig@uw.edu