New leadership for WSU undergraduate research efforts

Jeremy Lessmann.An experienced researcher, instructor, and student advisor and mentor, Jeremy Lessmann has been appointed as the director of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Research.

Faculty-mentored research activities benefits students in all majors and helps them engage deeply in their education. In any field, research can take the form of seeking resolutions to contested questions, creating original work, making empirical observations, using cutting-edge technologies, and more.

“I am excited to serve all WSU students and the university, and I look forward to helping to advance students’ high-impact learning activities associated with research, scholarship, and creative activities,” said Lessmann.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement in the Office of the Provost.

“Jeremy brings to his new position a wealth of knowledge about, and experience with, the office and undergraduate research, in general, and we are excited to have him on board as its leader,” said Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost.

“He has been associated with the program for many years and is very familiar with its goals, events, and initiatives. He also has years of experience as a student advisor and mentor, which will fortify his effectiveness as the program director.”

Lessmann joins the office as students are submitting abstracts to present at university-wide Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) and faculty, postdoctoral students, and other experts are registering as judges for the popular annual event.

The Office of Undergraduate Research also helps support summer research programs in STEM fields; offers top student researchers roles as peer mentors to others who are exploring how to get started; delivers workshops to students and faculty; teaches the UNIV 199 research skills course; and provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships for student researchers.

According to the National Survey for Student Engagement in 2019, 25 percent of WSU seniors reported they had worked with a faculty member on a research project.

Lessmann joined WSU in 1999 as a lecturer and postdoctoral research associate in chemistry and moleculary biosciences. He became a WSU chemistry instructor in 2001 and today is a associate professor, career track, in chemistry. In addition to teaching and academic advising, he frequently participates in recruitment events for students interested in sciences.

His research interests include novel spectroscopic techniques in inorganic and bioinorganic spectroscopy, and chromatographic characterization and quantification of small molecule metabolites of lactobacillus strains in the quest to reduce foodborne illness, especially from poultry.

“I’m also looking forward to building new relationships and sharing information with faculty and staff around the topic of undergraduate research. It is important for all of us to work collaboratively to advance students’ experiences and success at WSU,” he said.

In addition to his half-time undergraduate research leadership duties, Lessmann will continue to teach chemistry classes and advise chemistry students for the College of Arts and Sciences.

By Bev Makhani, Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, for WSU Insider