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Sara Brownell

Sara Brownell

Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501


  • Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation


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.

Professor Brownell'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 equity in undergraduate biology, specifically the experiences of women, religious students, and LGBTQIA students.


  • PhD, Biology, Stanford University, 2011
  • MA, Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education
  • MS, Biology, The Scripps Research Institute
  • BS, Biological Sciences, Cornell University

External Links

Journal Articles


Gin, L., D. C. Pais, K. D. Parrish, S. E. Brownell and K. C. Cooper. 2022. New online accommodations are not enough: The mismatch between student needs and supports given for students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 23(1):1-9. DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.00280-21. (link )


Barnes, M. E., J. Elser and S. E. Brownell. 2017. Impacts of a short evolution module on students' perceived conflict between religion and evolution. The American Biology Teacher 79(2):104-111. DOI: 10.1525/abt.2017.79.2.104. (link )



Suchy, A., J. J. Elser, S. E. Brownell, N. B. Grimm and E. E. Shortlidge. 2016. Pilot course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) results in student gains and novel urban ecology data. Poster presented at the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Eighteenth Annual All Scientists Meeting and Poster Symposium, 15 January 2016, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )