Natural Sciences

Mohamed Noor Named Interim Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

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Mohamed Noor, dean of natural sciences since 2018 and professor of biology, will become Interim Dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences when Valerie Ashby departs this summer.

“I am grateful to Mohamed for agreeing to serve as interim dean during this time of transition,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth.  “He understands Duke and Trinity College, he is an outstanding scholar, and his commitment to students and to his faculty colleagues is well-known and widely admired.”

A national search will commence shortly to identify a permanent successor to Ashby, who was recently named president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Noor joined the Department of Biology in 2005 and served as chair from 2013-17. His research focuses on learning to understand what genetic changes contribute to the formation of new species, and how the process of genetic recombination affects both species formation and molecular evolution. 

He is a recipient of the Darwin-Wallace Medal — given by the Linnean Society of London in recognition of those who have made major advances in evolutionary biology — as well as several Duke teaching and mentoring awards: the Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award, the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, the David and Janet Vaughan Brooks Teaching Award, Bass Society of Fellows’ Earl D. McLean Professorship, the Graduate School’s Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, and the Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award from the Duke University School of Medicine.

Noor has also served in key roles for a number of society offices, including president of the American Genetic Association, president of the Society for the Study of Evolution, and member of the board of directors for the Genetics Society of America. He has also held editorships and editorial board positions for publications such as American Naturalist, Evolution, Genetics, and PLoS Biology.

He has published two books, including “Live Long and Evolve: What Star Trek Can Teach Us about Evolution, Genetics, and Life on Other Worlds,” an entertaining introduction to genetics and evolutionary concepts (paralleling the scientific content of his Duke and Coursera classes) through the lens of the popular science-fiction television show. 

Noor holds a bachelor of science degree from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.  He will start his new role on July 1.

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Mamie M. Arndt