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Lisa D. McNair, Ph.D.

Professor, Engineering Education
  • Director, Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI)
  • Senior Fellow, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology
Lisa McNair
371 Goodwin Hall (MC 0218)
635 Prices Fork Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24061

216 Moss Arts Center
190 Alumni Mall
Blacksburg, VA 24060


Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Chicago, 2002
M.A. English, University of Georgia, 1992
B.A. English, University of Georgia, 1985

Research Interests


  • Integrative curriculum development and assessment
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Interdisciplinary communication and collaboration
  • Linguistic methods for research and teaching
  • K-25 education in Science, Engineering, Arts, and Design (SEAD)


Research Statement

My research explores ways to promote teaching and learning across different fields. I design educational environments that support integrative learning, and I investigate ways to embed strategies of assessment and evaluation. I am interested in how communication and collaboration play roles in these diverse settings, including a range of formal and informal experiences, in academia, the community, and business.


Lisa D. McNair develops integrative education projects that transverse perspectives within and beyond the university.  Her currently funded NSF projects include revolutionizing the VT ECE department, identifying practices in intentionally inclusive Maker spaces, and exploring professional identity development in Civil Engineering students with disabilities. She is also a co-PI on two grants -- Vibrant Virginia and 4-VA -- focused on building networks across Virginia to support PK12 teaching and learning. At Virginia Tech she led a cross-college team in creating the interdisciplinary undergraduate Pathways Innovation Minor, and she teaches graduate courses in educational theory, assessment and research methods. Her work in CRSE focuses on building networks between the University and multiple community sectors and supporting engagement in science, engineering, arts, and design. 

Teaching/Courses Taught

ENGE 2094: Create! Ideation and Innovation

Awards & Honors

  • 2015-16 Pathways Scholar, Provost's Office, Virginia Tech

  • 2014 Nunnally Award for Outstanding Engineering Education Faculty Member

  • 2014 Best Paper, ASEE Graduate Studies Division (with McCord, Hixson, & Ingram)

  • 2013 Virginia Tech UOPD Management Academy

  • 2012 XCaliber Award for excellence as an interdisciplinary group involved with technology-assisted teaching

  • 2011 NAE Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium

  • 2010 National Science Foundation CAREER Award

  • 2007 Helen Plants Award for Best Nontraditional Session at Frontiers in Education (with Borrego & Newswander)

  • 2000-2002 Brittain Fellow, School of Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Tech

Selected Publications

  • Ozkan, D.S., McNair, L.D., and Bairaktarova, D. (2019). Teacher Learner, Learner Teacher: Parallels and Dissonance in an Interdisciplinary Design Education Minor. IEEE Transactions on Education

  • Venters, C., Groen, C., McNair, L.D., and Paretti, M.C. (2018) Using Writing Assignments to Improve Learning in Statics: A Mixed Methods Study. International Journal of Engineering Education, 34.1: 119-131.

  • Groen, C., McNair, L.D., and Paretti, M.C. (2016). Prototypes and the Politics of the Artefact: Visual Explorations of Design Interactions in Teaching Spaces. CoDesign, 39-54.

  • McNair, L.D., Davitt, M., and Batten, G. (2015). Outside the 'Comfort Zone': Impacts of Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration on Research, Pedagogy, and Disciplinary Knowledge Production. Engineering Studies.

  • Matusovich, H., Paretti, M.C., McNair, L.D., and Hixson, C. (2014). Faculty Motivation: A Gateway to Transforming Engineering Education. Journal of Engineering Education 103(2): 302-330.

  • Paretti, M., McNair, L.D., and Leydens, J. (2014). Engineering communication. In A. Johri and B. Olds (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Borrego, M., Karlin, J., Beddoes, K., and McNair L.D. (2013). Team Effectiveness Theory from Industrial and Organizational Psychology Applied to Engineering Student Project Teams: A Research Review. Journal of Engineering Education 102(4): 472-512.

  • McNair, L.D., Newswander, C., Boden, D. and Borrego, M. (2011). Faculty and Student Interdisciplinary Identities in Self-Managed Teams. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(2) 274-296.

  • McNair, L.D. and Paretti, M.C. (2010). Activity theory, speech acts, and the 'doctrine of infelicity': Connecting language and technology in globally networked learning environments. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 24(3), 323-357.

Recent Grants

  • Professional Identity Development in Civil Engineering Students with Disabilities, National Science Foundation, Principal Investigators: McCall, McNair, Paretti, Shew, Simmons. | Abstract

  • Liberatory from the Ground Up: An Ethnography of Maker Spaces Achieving Diverse Participation, National Science Foundation, Principal Investigators: McNair, Riley. | Abstract

  • IUSE/PFE:RED: Radically Re-designing the Fan-in and Fan-out of an Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, National Science Foundation, Principal Investigators: Lester, Baum, Harrison, Knapp, Martin, McNair, Wisnioski. | Abstract