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Denisse Lillo-Sierra

Denisse Lillo-Sierra

PhD student

Denisse is a PhD student at the Department of Education Studies at the University of Warwick. Her doctoral studies are fully funded by the National Agency of Research and Development (ANID in Spanish) from the Chilean Government. Her research explores the transition of first-generation students (i.e., first in family) from secondary education to higher education in Chile from a capabilities lens. Denisse is interested in issues related to higher education access and choice, equitable transitions to higher education and underrepresented students.

Before joining Warwick, Denisse worked directing the English Department of the School of Business and Economics at Universidad de Chile. Denisse has extensive teaching experience across diverse university settings at both, undergraduate and graduate levels in Chile, the US and the UK. She has also been involved in initiatives that support minority and low-income students access higher education


GTA Roles

2022 – 2023 Senior Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Warwick. Tutor of Oral Spanish


BA English Linguistics and Literature, Universidad de Chile, Chile

MA Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy, New York University (NYU), US


Spanish (native) and English (fluent)

Research Areas

Higher education access and choice; first-generation students; transition from secondary to higher education; capabilities approach; social justice in education

Research Projects

2022 – Now Research Assistant on Widening Access to Higher Education in India: Institutional Approaches

Publications/Conference Presentations

Lillo, D. (2023, April). First-generation students’ transition from secondary to higher education. University of Warwick’s 10th Annual Education Studies Postgraduate Research Conference

Lillo, D. (2022, December 2) Transición de estudiantes de primera generación hacia la educación superior (Secondary students’ transition to higher education in English). 2nd Colloquium of Doctoral Students in Chilean Education organised by the Red de Investigadores en Educación Chilena (REICH – Network of Researchers in Chilean Education in English) at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) 

Abarca Millán, E., Lillo, D., & Oyarzún, K. (2022, July 6–8) Agency in a new reality: The roles of educators and students in emergency contexts. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines— CADAAD Annual Conference, Bergamo, Italy 

Abarca Millán, E., Lillo, D., & Oyarzún, K. (2022, April 21–26) Emerging teaching identities: Analyzing language-teaching experiences in the Chilean higher education context. American Educational Research Association — AERA Annual Conference, San Diego, USA 

Abarca Millán, E., Lillo, D., & Oyarzún, K. (2022, January 6–9) Emerging teaching identities: Analyzing experiences in an emergency online program. IAFOR International Conference on Education in Hawaii IICE 2022, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 

Lillo, D. (2020, November 12–13) Promotion, Integration and Perceptions of African Languages Post-Apartheid. XXI Encuentro SONAPLES UMCE 2020 Bilingüismo para la Justicia Social