• May 28th, 2021

May 28, 2021

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Kathryn O’Harra will join The University of Alabama Honors College as the Engineering Positive and Intentional Change, or EPIC, Scholars Program and University Honors Program assistant professor.

“I am looking forward to merging my creative and technical skills in this new role, focusing on developing DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] advocates and fostering well-rounded, diversified EPIC scholars with an appreciation for the intersection of culture, humanities, social justice and engineering,” O’Harra said. “I am confident in and passionate about the vision of the EPIC program, and am excited to work with the College of Engineering and the Honors College to provide each student 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, resources, policy, empathy and humanity.”

O’Harra received her doctorate in chemical engineering, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical and biological engineering and a second bachelor’s in dance with a mathematics minor from The University of Alabama.

“This position demonstrates the mutual commitment of both the College of Engineering and the Honors College to the new EPIC Scholars Program,” said Dr. Ken Fridley, senior associate dean of administration for the College of Engineering. “Not only will Dr. O’Harra be mentoring and teaching the EPIC Scholars from their first day in the program until their graduation, she will be an integral part of the team that develops the EPIC coursework and other co-curricular activities.”

While at UA, O’Harra has published over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, presented at 15 national and international conferences and contributed as an inventor to multiple U.S. patent applications. She served as a Graduate Student Association departmental representative and vice president, and as a student inclusivity and diversity delegate as well as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students. O’Harra is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the North American Membrane Society and the American Chemical Society.

She brings strong leadership skills to the position that will enable the program to grow. She will also play a key role in the transdisciplinary curriculum of the Honors College. O’Harra recently taught a new Honors College seminar — The Chemistry of Baking – and will develop and teach other honors courses in the future.

“Dr. O’Harra has an excellent record of working and teaching across disciplines, as well as a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice,” said Dr. Tara Williams, dean of the Honors College. “She will be able to draw on her background in the arts as well as STEM to develop and teach EPIC courses as well as honors seminars. I look forward to those and to the other meaningful opportunities that Dr. O’Harra will create for the students.”

EPIC is an intentional, small, cohort-based Honors program for engineering and computer science students. This unique program will emphasize diversity, equity, inclusion and justice to develop students into leaders, advocates and agents of positive and intentional change in service to their profession, community and society.

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