Student Profile

Lorna Treffert

PhD, Engineering Education, Spring 2026

Lorna Treffert.
“I was really sold by the idea of being part of a community of engineering education researchers and instructors. ”
Lorna Treffert, PhD student
engineering education

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, a sweet little city neighboring the Great Smoky Mountains.

Why did you choose UB?

My advisor, Dr. Courtney Faber, took a position at UB in the fall of 2023 and asked me if I wanted to move from the University of Tennessee with her. While I'm always up for a little adventure, I was really sold by the idea of being part of a community of engineering education researchers and instructors. I was impressed by the wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and research areas pursued by faculty members in the department, and I was stoked to learn from them.

Why did you choose to go into engineering education?

I fell in love with teaching during my industrial and systems engineering master's degree program at the University of Tennessee. Working as a teaching assistant helped me realize how much I enjoyed working with students, particularly being able to build their confidence as future engineers. During this time, I learned that there was an entire field dedicated to engineering education research. I felt drawn to the kinds of problems it explores such as finding ways to structurally and individually support students with marginalized identities in engineering programs. I'm very excited to dive into my dissertation work which will explore how the power dynamics within engineering research groups impact undergraduate researchers.

What do you like most about engineering education?

I love the community of students and faculty in our department. It has been wonderful getting to know my peers in the department, sharing our passions and ideas, learning from each other, and making each other laugh. The faculty members of our department have been so welcoming and helpful as I have been playing around with different research ideas and career pathways in our field.

What have you done that you are most proud of?

I've really enjoyed being a part of the SEAS Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Ambassadors. My committee has been looking into how we can build engineering justice into SEAS curricula by making recommendations for inclusive course policies, pedagogical practices, and individual student interactions. I'm also very proud to have presented at the ASEE Annual Conference and developed a workshop for ASEE's First Year Engineering Experiences Conference alongside my advisor and collaborators.

What else are you involved in and/or passionate about?

I am very passionate about the body liberation movement and have joined a few wonderful groups in WNY looking to normalize and celebrate fat and marginalized bodies in outdoor spaces, such as the Body Liberation Hiking Club and Ample Movement. I hope to one day explore how fatphobia and existing in a fat body impacts folx in academia. I'm also a huge nerd who loves D&D and anything having to do with fantasy and storytelling.

What are your future plans?

In the near future, I'm planning to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to expand my work exploring undergraduate research experiences. I'm curious to see how power structures within engineering research groups manifest across different countries academic/research cultures; and thus, how undergraduate researchers engage in research within them. I'm still considering where I want to go after this PhD program, but either supporting engineering faculty through a teaching and learning center or taking on a faculty position in an engineering education department both sound great!

Is there anything else you would like to note about your experience at UB?

I'm very glad I decided to come to UB! The people here really are wonderful. Also, I've frankly been delighted by how flat it is here. You walk anywhere in no time!

Published May 20, 2024