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Erin Knepler

Pronouns: She/Her

Senior Research Director
Erin is a social science researcher with expertise in postsecondary education research focusing on career pathways, campus/organizational climate, and STEM.

Erin is a senior research director in the Higher Education Analytics Center (HEAC) at NORC at the University of Chicago and a Sparks blog contributor. Erin brings more 15 years of experience working in higher education conducting research and analysis on postsecondary career pathways, college completion, campus and organizational climate, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

Currently, Erin serves as project director of a grant from the National Science Foundation (award no. 2226007) to conduct a culturally responsive, mixed-methods research project addressing critical gaps in research related to career trajectories of STEM PhD students. This effort will further the goal of building an elite, diverse STEM workforce committed to addressing and solving pressing social problems and is in partnership with North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Erin also directs several campus climate studies for academic institutions and faith-based organizations.

Prior to NORC, Erin was the associate director of research and higher education and workforce research lead at Public Agenda. In this role, she designed and analyzed representative surveys of the general public and specialized surveys for postsecondary leaders and content experts. Before joining Public Agenda, Erin was a researcher and P-20 program director at the University System of Maryland. In this role, she worked at the intersection of policy and application, specializing in system and campus-level academic innovation work and research on academic/industry partnerships.

Project Contributions

American Finance Association Climate Study

Exploring the working environment in the finance profession, with a focus on equity


American Finance Association

Annual Cenus of Finance Faculty & PhD Students

Tracking demographics to promote greater gender diversity in the finance sector


American Finance Association (AFA)

Booth School of Business Faculty Climate Survey

A survey to assess and improve the climate among faculty members


Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago

BU School of Public Health Annual Survey

Helping BUSPH identify the strengths and weaknesses of its programming and resources


Boston University School of Public Health

Career Trajectories of STEM Doctoral Students

Studying STEM PhD students’ career trajectories using culturally responsive measures and methods


National Science Foundation

College Mentoring Programs Evaluation

Assessing ways to increase college completion rates for historically underserved students


ECMC Foundation

Graduate Schools’ Response to COVID-19

A rapid survey details how STEM schools coped with pandemic disruptions


National Science Foundation

Hillel International Campus Climate Review

Understanding the campus experiences of Jewish college students


Hillel International

Middle States Commission on Higher Education COVID-19 Report

Evaluating how higher education institutions adapted in response to the pandemic


Middle States Commission on Higher Education

National Study of Faculty Attitudes Toward Academic Freedom

A new study of academic freedom inspired by Paul Lazarsfeld’s 1958 research


American Association of Colleges and Universities and American Association of University Professors

Survey on Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Curricula in Higher Education

Gaining insight into psychedelic-assisted therapy curricula and implementation in U.S. higher education



Varying Degrees: The State of Higher Education

Tracking changing opinions and trends about college education


New America

Wake Forest University Student Survey

Identifying key issues and concerns on the Wake Forest campus


Wake Forest University

Walden University Diversity and Inclusion Climate Survey

Supporting the online university’s efforts to ensure a strong culture of diversity and inclusion


Walden University Diversity and Inclusion Working Group