Associate Professor of Biology

Erin is a tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Biology at PSU.  Her path to academia has been a non-linear one. She was a professional contemporary dancer for over a decade before transitioning to earning her PhD in Biology in 2014.  Her PhD work focused on the ecology and physiology of mosses and moss reproductive success.  Here she was lucky enough to do field work in Lassen Volcanic National Park and in the South Shetland Islands on the Western Antarctic Peninsula.   

Through a postdoc at Arizona State University she transitioned to Biology Education Research (BER), and this is where she happily remains.  She is excited to further explore the education ecosystem of PSU and beyond with members of the PSU BER group and collaborators across campus and the country.  Erin is the PI of a NSF-funded Scholarships in STEM program (S-STEM), and is involved with a number of groups including the PSU STEM Education and Equity InstituteCUREnet, the Student Experience Project, U-FERN, PNW LSAMP, and others.


PhD Student

MacKenzie graduated from Portland State University in 2020 with a B.S. in Public Health. She joined the BER group in 2018, where she completed the Ronald E. McNair and BUILD EXITO Scholars programs, as well as her honor’s thesis. She is excited to be returning to the group as a PhD student in Fall 2020. Her research interests include understanding the factors that contribute to students’ success in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as how students from different backgrounds participate and learn in the STEM fields.



Graduate Student

Justin will be joining the BER lab in the fall of 2021 as a graduate student researcher. His previous research with the University of Colorado and University of Georgia focused on understanding and improving bio education tools and techniques. He is interested in researching strategies for teaching and classroom development that make biology education more engaging, accessible, and equitable. Justin is looking forward to working alongside other members of the BER lab to help improve the way that biology is taught and understood.


Undergraduate Researcher, BUILD EXITO Scholar

Lindsay joined the BER lab in Spring 2019. She is a Honors University student and Build EXITO scholar. Her fascination for microbes is equally matched to her desire to share her passion with others. This led her to seek out environments which would foster both. While working to complete her BS in Biology she has been privileged to be involved in two labs one in BER and one in molecular and cellular biology. Her BER work focuses on the impacts of course structure on metacognition and academic efficacy.  When not training to be a “science wizard” you can find her enjoying her days with her family trekking amongst the trees."

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Undergraduate Researcher

Vivian is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry and hopes to enter medical school one day. She joined the BER lab in June 2020 and looks forward to learning from her experiences as a member of the BER lab. She hopes to use her gained experiences to better educate others and help her local community. She has lived in Portland her whole life and loves it! She enjoys spending her free time by reading, swimming, bouldering, spending time with her friends and family and feeding her bubble tea addiction.


Undergraduate Researcher

Liliana is an undergraduate student double-majoring in Biology and Public Health. She is a McNair, LSAMP, and BUILD EXITO scholar. She joined the BER lab in late 2020 and is working on understanding the factors that contribute to sense of belonging in STEM. After graduation, her goals include pursuing a master's in clinical epidemiology and then applying to medical school. As an immigrant from Colombia, Liliana has a strong interest in Latino health and hopes to one day serve her community.



Post-baccalaureate Researcher

Daniel graduated from Portland State University in 2020 with a B.S. in General Science while fulfilling medical school course requirements. He is currently working in a medical clinic, studying for the MCAT and is hoping to go on to become a dermatologist here in Oregon where he grew up. Having been both a first-generation and non-traditional college student, working for the BER lab, and helping figure out how to make education better and more equitable is something he finds meaningful. When he is not studying or working, you can typically find him hiking, snowboarding, obsessing over cats, or traveling when possible.


Undergraduate Researcher

Nikki is a first-generation college student currently a senior at Portland State University completing a Biology Major degree. She aspires to pursue a career in the medical field; thus, is doing a pre-medicine pathway. Nikki enjoys going on fun adventures with friends and family, such as traveling, hiking, and kayaking. She loves going to new places and trying delicious food. Her short-term goal is to train her cat, Momo to go on little walks.

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Undergraduate Researcher

Patricia is an undergraduate student who joined the BER Lab in Fall of 2021. Her experience working as a community advocate within the Reynolds School District, sparked her passion for increasing access to quality education to marginalized communities. Currently, Patricia is working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Math with the hopes to one day become a math teacher. She believes the research in the BER Lab will allow her to develop knowledge and skills essential for teaching future generations.


Undergraduate Researcher

Sandhya is an undergraduate researcher who joined the BER lab group in Spring 2021. They are a Build EXITO scholar who is passionate about incorporating equity, mental health awareness, and social justice into the research process. Sandhya will be graduating with their Bachelor's degree in Biology in Summer 2021 with hopes of a career working with college students. In their free time, Sandhya likes to listen to podcasts, learn new languages on Duolingo, and buy too many houseplants.



Lab Mascot

Gil emerged into this world from her gelatinous egg on March 20th, 2017, as the offspring of two fecund and ambivalent (but presumably proud) PSU Biology Department axolotls. The BER lab adopted her later that summer, when she had grown approximately to the size of a small paperclip and had progressed from a diet of daphnia and brine shrimp to chopped frozen bloodworms. Under the dedicated care of BER lab members, Gil has grown to be about 8 inches long, and continues to voraciously consume frozen bloodworms and the occasional organically-sourced fresh earthworm. When not eating, Gil enjoys staring at her reflection in the glass, floating lackadaisically around her tank, and critiquing BER lab member’s practice talks.


Job Title

Brie Tripp, PhD

Julia Burrows, PhD

Vladimir Anokhin

Analee Pham

Sophia Voronoff

Sarah Sheghwi

Phoebe Huyen

Yelisey Gurzhuy

Megan Thran

Jane Cao

Justin Flaiban

Chloe Shelby

Lucas Bennington

Emily Olson

Alisia Overton

Emily Cornelius

Miles Fletcher

Greggory Dallas

Kyahn Daraee



former Master's student

Liz is now working for a consulting group.


former PhD student

Emma is now a postdoctoral fellow at Arizona State University.

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former researcher

Jasmine is now in a Master's program at New York University.


former researcher

Jess is now working in a research lab at OHSU.

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former researcher

Hayley is now in Physical Therapy program at OSU-Cascades.

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