Caitrin Lynch, Ph.D., is Professor of Anthropology at Olin College of Engineering (, where she teaches courses in anthropology, design, engineering, and entrepreneurship. She is the secretary of the American Ethnological Society (of the American Anthropological Association) and past treasurer of the American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies. She is the author of two books: Retirement on the Line: Age, Work, and Value in An American Factory, and Juki Girls, Good Girls: Gender and Cultural Politics in Sri Lanka's Global Garment Industry. She is also producer of the documentary film, "My Name is Julius.” Dr. Lynch received her Ph.D. and M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago and her B.A. in anthropology from Bates College. Dr. Lynch's research and teaching passions include examining the dynamics of work and cultural values (with a focus on aging and gender) as well as the cultural dimensions of offshore manufacturing, plus a commitment to understanding social behavior in global contexts and a devotion to encouraging students to use qualitative methods to think critically about the world around them. She especially strives to expose engineering students to critical analysis and identification of the needs and opportunities in our aging world. One outlet for these efforts is in her interdisciplinary service-learning course “Engineering For Humanity.” She is currently working on a book project focusing on a 150-year-old New England textile factory, in which she examines questions of outsourcing, precarious labor, gender, and business competition.

Recent Activity

Engineers, Go WILD

TEDx Natick, January 2018

Engineers who incorporate the tools of cultural anthropology in their work create product and system designs that don’t just solve problems—they can result in designs that enhance people’s lives. Caitrin Lynch, Professor of Anthropology at Olin College of Engineering, shares examples where going WILD (short-hand for Watch, Inquire, Listen, Do) did just that. Caitrin challenges us all to go WILD as we think about the supports our aging family members and neighbors could use to keep active and engaged.