Jessica R. Harrell, Ph.D.

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Director of Academic Engagement, Natural and Quantitative Sciences

(919) 681-3155

Dr. Jessica Harrell grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was a first-generation college student, graduating college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry.  She moved to North Carolina in 2003 to begin graduate studies in Cell & Developmental Biology at UNC – Chapel Hill.  Following her PhD degree completion, she taught courses in the Biology department, and then served for 9 years as the Director of Pre-Doctoral Student Development and Support in the Office of Graduate Education at the UNC School of Medicine.  This role allowed her the opportunity to co-direct the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), an NIH grant-funded program aimed to support the engagement and persistence of students from under-represented (UR) groups in the biomedical sciences and on scientific career paths, with the ultimate goal of increasing diversity within the scientific enterprise.  She also recruited undergraduate students from UR groups at colleges and universities around the country to participate in a summer research program at UNC-Chapel Hill which she directed each summer.  In this role, Dr. Harrell matched students with research labs that fit their interests and organized and led the programming for the summer curriculum to help students build their scientific identity.  She is a trained facilitator for the National Research Mentoring Network, and has facilitated numerous workshops for faculty and students aimed at improving the mentor-mentee relationship, while helping the faculty create inclusive lab environments and helping students “mentor-up”. 

Dr. Harrell enjoys working with students to plan their academic path both within and outside of the classroom and helping them connect with opportunities to grow intellectually.  She is excited to begin building strong relationships with students at Duke so they know they always have someone rooting for them.  You can make an appointment with Dr. Harrell here.