National Institute on Aging

Three Black Scholars Taking on New Assignments at Major Universities

Norbert L. W. Wilson, professor of food, economics, and community in the Duke Divinity School, will become the new director of the World Food Policy Center and also a professor of public policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, effective July 1. He will continue to hold an appointment at the Divinity School. Dr. Wilson is the president-elect of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association,  the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with members in more than 60 countries.

Dr. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Georgia. He holds a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of London and a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis.

Hiruy Meharena is a new assistant professor of neurobiology and molecular biology within the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. In addition to teaching, he is set to launch an online platform where middle and high school students from underserved communities can connect with scientists at all levels, from graduate students to postdoctoral fellows and faculty members.

Dr. Meharena is a graduate of the University of Asmara in Eritrea. He holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San Diego.

Deidra Hodges, an associate professor with expertise in photovoltaics and solar energy, has been named chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering at Florida International University in Miami. She is the first Black scholar to serve as a department chair in the College of  Engineering and Computing. Dr. Hodges joined the faculty at the university in 2021.

Dr. Hodges earned bachelor’s degrees in both physics and electrical engineering in a dual-degree program between Dillard University in New Orleans and Columbia University in New York City. She earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Columbia University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida.


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