Patricia Wonch Hill

Research Associate Professor Profile Image
Research Associate Professor Sociology (402) 472-3687 234 Whittier Research Center

Curriculum Vitae

Current Research

I am currently the research coordinator at the Methodology and Evaluation Research Core Facility (MERC) at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Center (SBSRC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a research assistant professor of sociology. My primary duties include overseeing internal proposal development, as well as serving as both a researcher and evaluator.

My research primarily focuses on broadening participation in STEM in K-16 education and beyond. Currently, I am currently a co-investigator and research director on an NIH Science Education Partnership Award called Worlds of Connections I serve as the main liaison with public school districts and oversee graduate students conducting research on how informal science experiences during middle school influence STEM pathways in High School. Our research also explores the relationships between science teacher social networks and how teacher learning communities support science learning and the diffusion of next-generation science standards.

I am also co-investigator on the NSF Broadening Participation in Engineering Grant - Statewide Effort to Diversify Undergraduate Engineering Student Population. My social science research on this grant focuses on how alternately admitted students (students who do not meet all admission criteria for the college of engineering) utilize student support serves to find a community and a resource to persist towards the completion of an engineering degree.  The primary research objective is to understand the facilitators and barriers to recruiting and retaining students who belong to groups often historically underrepresented in engineering.

Additionally, I have been the lead social science researcher on NSF INCLUDES grant WATCH: US (Women Achieving Though Community Hubs in the US), which focuses on increasing the number of women with advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences.  

My publications have contributed to knowledge on science identity formation in adolescence, adolescent STEM friendship networks, science gender bias, and on differences between urban and rural youth informal STEM learning opportunities in Nebraska.  My other publications include exploration of the impacts of child loss on self-esteem and maternal identity, and risk of divorce. As an applied sociologist and program evaluator, I have analyzed and reported on the formative and summative impacts on a variety of state and federal programs over a variety of topics including child welfare, minority health disparities, and health.

As a Nebraska alumnus, first-generation college graduate, and western Nebraskan native, I am passionate about making scientific research accessible to rural and urban communities in Nebraska.  I want the cutting edge scientific research conducted and the University of Nebraska to be accessible to all Nebraskans.  

Student Opportunities

The Methodology and Evaluation Research Core Facility often has funding for undergraduate or graduate student researchers interested in program evaluation and applied sociology.  We often hire summer graduate student interns to conduct applied research on a variety of projects in public health, science education, food systems, and assessing broader impacts of federally funded grants.

Selected Publications

Hill, P.W., McQuillan, J., Hebets, E., Speigel, A. & Diamond, J.  (In Press) Informal Science Experiences among Urban and Rural Youth: Exploring Differences at the Intersections of Socioeconomic Status and Gender.  Journal of STEM Outreach

Hebets, E.A., Welch-Lazoritz, M., Tisdale, P., & Hill, P.W. (2018)  Eight-Legged Encounters—Arachnids, Volunteers, and Art help to Bridge the Gap between Informal and Formal Science Learning.  Insects, 9(1), 27.

Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., and Diamond, J. (2018). Discovery orientation, cognitive schemas, and disparities in science identity in early adolescence. Sociological Perspectives, 61(1), 99-125.

Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Talbert, E. J., Spiegel, A. N., Gauthier, G. R., & Diamond, J. (2017). Science Possible Selves and Desire to be a Scientist: Mindsets, Gender Bias, and Confidence during Early Adolescence, 6(2), 55.

Gauthier, G. R., Hill, P. W., McQuillan, J., Spiegel, A. N., & Diamond, J. (2017). The potential scientist’s dilemma: How the masculine framing of science shapes friendships and science job aspirations. Social Sciences, 6(1), 14.

Recent Grant Activity

Co-Investigator - NIH Science Education Partnership Award (NIH SEPA) grant, “Worlds of Connections: Engaging Youth with Health Research through Network Science and Stories in Augmented Reality.” (1R25GM129836, 2018-2023)

Co-Investigator - NSF Broadening Participation in Engineering (NSF BPE), “Statewide effort to diversify undergraduate engineering student population.” (1848696, 2018-2021)

Senior Personnel - NSF INCLUDES grant – “WATCH US: Women Achieving through Community Hubs” (1649365, 2016-2019)

Other Information

Although my position is at the University is 100% research I have also contributed to the University of Nebraska through teaching and service.  I have taught numerous courses in research methods, statistics, the sociology of gender and minority health disparities.  I also designed and implemented a two-semester applied sociology course over academic years that utilized community-based participatory research to engage undergraduate and middle school students in hands on social science research in multiple middle schools.  I also currently serve on the Faculty Senate representing non-tenured research faculty for the Centers-at-large District and I served on the First Generation Advisory committee and a committee on Academic Freedom at the university.  I am currently President of the AAUP Nebraska state conference chapter where I work with AAUP affiliates where we advocate for academic freedom and shared governance at colleges and universities in Nebraska.  In my free time, I am an activist for social justice and reproductive rights and a member of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence (NAGV) where I advocate for gun control at the local, state, and national levels.  For the past nine years, I have also humbly volunteered as a policy advocate and online support group administrator with the MISS Foundation, an organization supporting families who have experienced the death of a child. I am a mom, a wife, and an occasional gardener who also loves to cook.  I have four kids, two dogs, a cat, and four chickens I collectively named “Rage Against the Machine.”  I love Nebraska and I love sociology!

Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Areas of Specialization:

  • Broadening Participation in STEM
  • Gender
  • Adolescence
  • Health
  • Inequality
  • Education
  • Rural
  • Research Methods