Sara Brownell

Arizona State University

Topics: Course-based undergraduate research experiences, how to make active learning more inclusive, research on students with disabilities in undergraduate science courses, how to make evolution more inclusive for religious students.

Availability: Winter/ Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021, After Fall 2021


Sara Brownell is a neuroscientist turned full-time education researcher, who teaches undergraduate biology while studying biology education. As a science faculty member with education specialty, she uses both qualitative and quantitative data to better understand how undergraduate biology students learn and how instructors can develop more effective ways to teach.

Sara’s interests in undergraduate biology education are broad, but her current work focuses on three main avenues. She investigates the impact of undergraduate research experiences on students, specifically students enrolled in course-based research experiences. She develops a programmatic assessment for biology majors that focuses on the core concepts of biology. She also explores issues related to access and inclusion in undergraduate biology, specifically the experiences of women, religious students, LGBTQ+ students, and transfer students.

Relevant Published Work

Cooper KM*, Auerbach AJ, Bader JD, Beadles-Bohling AS, Brashears JA, Cline E, Eddy SL, Elliott DB, Farley E, Fuselier L, Heinz H, Josek T, Lane AK, Lo SM, Maloy J, Nugent M, Offerdahl E, Palacios-Moreno J, Ramos J, Reid JW, Sparks RA, Stephens MD, Waring AL, Wilton M, Gormally C*, Brownell SE*. Fourteen recommendations to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals in academic biology. CBE Life Sciences Education. July 2020.

Barnes ME, Dunlop HM, Sinatra GM, Hendrix T, Zheng Y, Brownell SE. “Accepting evolution means you can’t believe in God”: Atheistic perceptions of evolution among college biology students. CBE Life Sciences Education. June 2020.

Barnes ME, Truong J, Grunspan DZ, Brownell SE. Are scientists biased against Christians? Exploring real and perceived Christian bias in academic biology. PLOS ONE. January 2020.

Cooper KM*, Gin LE*, Barnes ME, Brownell SE. Exploring student depression in undergraduate research experiences. CBE Life Sciences Education. May 2020.

Updated 1/6/2021