Katie O’Harra

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Dr. Kathryn (Katie) O’Harra is an Assistant Professor spearheading a partner program in the College of Engineering and Honors College: Engineering Positive and Intentional Change (EPIC). Katie possesses a distinctively creative and technical background, with educational and experiential investment in the arts and engineering. In addition to her passions for teaching, collaborative problem solving, and educational outreach, O’Harra enjoys the balance provided by her creative outlets including ballet and ballroom, painting, sewing, and baking. Katie is thrilled to contribute and merge her skills in the Honors College, as she works to develop STEAM-themed transdisciplinary courses and innovative programs. Katie serves as a mentor to undergraduates in the EPIC Scholars Program, which aligns with her teaching philosophy and focuses on developing DEI advocates and fostering well-rounded, diversified scholars, with an appreciation for the intersection of culture, humanities, and engineering.

Dr. O’Harra completed B.S., M.S., and PhD in degrees in Chemical Engineering, alongside a B.A. in Dance with a Mathematics Minor, from the University of Alabama. Katie has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, contributed as an inventor on several US patent applications, and gained teaching experience to support her pursuits in academia. Her research focused on the design of high-performance ionic materials for membrane-based gas separations and additive manufacturing applications. Her interest in materials science and polymers has influenced her transdisciplinary course offerings including The Chemistry of Baking and Art and Science seminars. Her technical experience pertaining to environmental and energy sectors, in addition to her leadership experience and DEI advocacy, serves as the foundation for her work with EPIC. Katie is excited to be a part of the development of this unique program which will provide each yearly cohort with the resources to be active agents of change in their future workplaces with an understanding of how engineering disciplines are intertwined with environmental responsibility, society, energy, resources, policy, empathy, & humanity.