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Meet our Team

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


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

In addition to her role with the Office of Undergraduate Research, Janice (she/her) 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 the Office of Undergraduate Research 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 (she/her) serves as Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. 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 the Office of Undergraduate Research, 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 Perez
Program Manager

Allison received her B.S. in BioResource Research with a focus in Toxicology and Chemistry at Oregon State University (OSU). She discovered her interest in environmental toxicology through a summer undergraduate research program where she studied the health effects of air pollution. At OSU, Allison worked as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and the Arts, where she became passionate about the importance of mentorship and creating equitable access to research opportunities. Her commitments to educational equity and decolonization drive her work here and in her personal life. Prior to joining the Office of Undergraduate Research, 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.

Student Staff

Sophie Higdon
Graduate Staff Assistant

Sophie (she/her) is in her second 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 undergraduate 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 continue working with the Office of Undergraduate Research 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.

Jenny Kim
Graduate Staff Assistant

Jenny (she/her) 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.