WSU Names Jeremy Lessmann to Lead Office of Undergraduate Research

Jeremy Lessmann, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research whose appointment started in spring 2022.

Pullman, Wash.—Washington State University has appointed Jeremy J. Lessmann, chemistry associate professor, as the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research (UR).

The UR is part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President and Pullman Chancellor.

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

“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.”

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

Lessmann fourth to lead UR

Lessmann succeeds Colin Mannex, who led the office starting in 2021 and is the new executive director for the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow, ID. The first UR director at WSU in 2006 was Dave Bahr, mechanical and materials engineering professor. Shelley Pressley, civil and environmental engineering associate research professor and associate dean for student success in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, assumed the position in 2011.

At WSU since 1999, Lessmann first worked as a lecturer and postdoctoral research associate to James O. Schenk in the Dept. of Chemistry, and later with Ken Nash. In the School of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, he worked with Michael Konkel and Lisa Gloss, his wife and current dean of the WSU Graduate School.

Lessmann’s own 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.

Lessmann became a WSU instructor in 2001, a clinical assistant professor in 2008, and a scholarly associate professor/career track in 2017. He teaches several chemistry classes, has received numerous awards for his academic advising of students.

He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, the state’s land-grant institution headquartered in University Park, and his B.A. in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

UR Overview

Undergraduate research—which also includes scholarly pursuits and creative activities conducted with a faculty mentor—has long been promoted at WSU as beneficial to students in all majors. It, along with other high-impact learning practices, helps undergraduates engage more deeply in their education. “Research” in any field might include seeking resolutions to contested questions, making empirical observations, using cutting-edge technologies, and experiencing the excitement that comes from working to answer important questions, for example, according to experts in education.

WSU established the Office of Undergraduate Research in 2006 as the university’s central resource for information and programming on the topic. Since, the UR has embraced a broad set of responsibilities, such as hosting the annual, university-wide Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA); helping support summer research programs in STEM fields; offering top student researchers roles as peer mentors to others who are exploring how to get started and find a mentor; delivering workshops to students and faculty; offering the UNIV 199 research skills course; and providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships so student researchers can concentrate on their investigations rather than working at other jobs.

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.

Appointment Aligns with SURCA Registration, Award Applications

Lessmann joins the UR as students are submitting abstracts to apply to present a poster at SURCA 2022 on March 28. Faculty, postdoctoral students, and other experts are encouraged to register as judges for the popular annual event. Concurrently, undergraduates are applying online for up to seven types of undergraduate research awards.

Media contacts: Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, 509-335-2320,

Beverly Makhani, DAESA director of communications, 509-432-3430,