Rebecca Willits

Professor and Chairperson,  Chemical Engineering
Affiliated Faculty,  Bioengineering


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  • 201F Cullinane
  • 617.373.2989


  • 216 Egan

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Research Focus

Mechanobiology of neural systems; Systems for nerve regeneration; Diversity and equity in engineering


  • PhD, Cornell University, Chemical Engineering, 1999
  • MS, The Johns Hopkins University, Chemical Engineering, 1996


Honors & Awards

  • AIMBE Fellow
  • BMES Fellow
  • ELATE Fellow (2017-18)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Golden Key Honor Society
  • National Center for Regenerative Medicine
  • Society for Biomaterials

Research Overview

Mechanobiology of neural systems; Systems for nerve regeneration; Diversity and equity in engineering

The overarching goal of my research team is to understand how mechanical, chemical, and electrical factors of three dimensional environments alter cell behavior. To this end, a focus has been to enhance neural cell response in 2D and 3D after biochemical and mechanical manipulations.

cover of research journal in BME

Materials for Tissue Engineering Lab

Over the past 18 years, the Materials for Tissue Engineering Laboratory has manipulated the extracellular environment to increase neural differentiation, nerve regrowth, and Schwann cell proliferation in vitro and increase functional nerve recovery in vivo.

Materials for Tissue Engineering

Selected Research Projects

  • Toward a Mechanotransduction Mimic of the Neural Stem Cell Niche
    • – Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation
  • Collaborative Research: Professional Preparation of Underrepresented Minority PhD’s and Post-Docs for a Career in Engineering Academia
    • – Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation

Selected Publications


Oct 12, 2021

Fall 2021 PEAK Experiences Awardees

Congratulations to the COE student recipients of the Fall 2021 PEAK Experiences Awards. The PEAK Experiences Awards are a progressively structured sequence of opportunities designed to support learners as they continue climbing to new heights of achievement in undergraduate research and creative endeavor throughout their Northeastern journeys. ASCENT AWARDS Shana Broitman, COE’23, “Overcoming STING Silencing […]

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Apr 26, 2021

Congratulations RISE: 2021 Winners

Congratulations to our engineering students who won awards at the RISE:2021 Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo!

Rebecca Willits


Sep 02, 2020

New Faculty Spotlight: Rebecca Willits

Rebecca Willits joined the Chemical Engineering department in July 2020 as Professor and Chair.

Rebecca Willits


Aug 03, 2020

Willits Selected as a BMES Fellow

ChE Professor and Chair Rebecca Willits selected as a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

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