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About Debbie Chachra

Dr. Chachra is passionate about working with undergraduate students and about improving engineering education. She is currently collaborating with Olin students to study biological materials, including the polymer nest cell linings of Colletes bees. She is concurrently involved in research on the undergraduate engineering experience. Her primary project is an investigation of self-efficacy in first-year, project-based design courses, with an eye towards improving these experiences for students at Olin and beyond. She has also studied and published on other aspects of the student experience, including studies of persistence and migration (why students stay in engineering or choose to leave), as well as differences in the engineering experience between male and female students.
Prior to joining the faculty of Olin College, Dr. Chachra was a postdoctoral associate at MIT in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She joined MIT from the University of Toronto, where she received her master's degree and Ph.D. in materials science. Dr. Chachra has a bachelor's degree in engineering science, also from the University of Toronto. She was a recipient of a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship and a Medical Research Council of Canada graduate fellowship, as well as numerous other honors for her research and publications. In 2010, she received an NSF CAREER Award in support of her research on engineering education.


Present Associate Professor of Materials Science, Olin College of Engineering

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

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Honors and Awards

  • ASEE Best Paper Award
  • NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
  • William Elgin Wickenden Award, American Society for Engineering Education


  • Structural Biomaterials
  • Materials Science and Solid State Chemistry
  • Design Nature
  • Biomedical Materials

Articles (16)

Conference Proceedings (6)