As a science educator, Dr. Lynch's work and research has always focused on the intersection of equity and excellence in science teaching and learning, exemplified by her book, Equity and Science Education Reform (2000). Her research goals are to understand and influence education policies that help all students to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and increase the number of students under-represented in STEM who are able pursue STEM college majors, jobs, and careers. Sharon Lynch has taught high school biology, chemistry and environmental education, and middle school general science. She has been a Fulbright Fellow and a NISE Fellow. From 2008-2010 she was a Program Director for the Directorate of Education and Human Resources of the National Science Foundation. She served as President-Elect, President, and Past-President (2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively) of NARST, (National Association for Research in Science Teaching), A Worldwide Organization for the Improvement of Science Teaching and Learning through Research. She was the Principal Investigator of SCALE-uP, a NSF-funded research program on the effectiveness middle school science curriculum materials and diverse learners. Dr. Lynch's current research efforts focus on the rapidly emerging trend of Inclusive STEM-Focused High Schools (ISHS), looking closely at STEM curriculum development, instructional strategies, school-business-community partnerships, and early college opportunities to develop STEM knowledge, skills, identities, and career aspirations. She is the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project, Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspiration (OSPrI).and co-Principal Investigator for the NSF-funded iSTEM study. These two companion grants seek to create a model for inclusive STEM-focused high schools and to understand if they are effective, sustainable and worthwhile as a policy initiative. Concentrating on schools that recruit underrepresented minority students, the project will also explore how the STEM-focused schools are supported by businesses and industry through internships or mentorships that could ultimately boost success in STEM careers.
Lynch's work with NARST coincided with a White House emphasis on STEM education and workforce development as well as the release of the draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards were prepared by Achieve and are based on the National Research Council's Framework for K-12 Science Education. Dr. Lynch is helping to lead NARST's burgeoning involvement with science education policy by directing an initiative to provide critical insights into the implementation of the NGSS. Through a series of position papers, eight NARST committees will address various implementation issues, including assessment, accountability, teacher preparation, professional development, curriculum materials, informal science education, and engineering.