Duke Leadership Academy Scholars Profile
Title: Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Senior Management Area: Pratt School of Engineering
Class Year: 2017
Dr. Johnna Frierson is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Furman University in Greenville, SC. She then went on to complete her doctoral studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University.
As Dr. Frierson progressed through her academic studies, she enjoyed developing as a scientist and pursuing interesting research questions in the lab, but also felt drawn to addressing the challenges at the intersection of science, education, and society. She set her sights to embark on a career that would allow her to make a meaningful contribution in diversifying the scientific workforce and empowering those interested in STEM, regardless of his or her background, to reach their full potential. Towards this goal, she pursued postdoctoral training in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Program Director postdoctoral fellowship in the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she managed innovative pre-graduate and graduate-level programs and initiatives focused on diversity recruitment and retention, science outreach, and cross-disciplinary graduate training. She went on to work at NC State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine as the Graduate Program and Research Training coordinator where she developed an undergraduate research program, coordinated professional development and teaching certificate seminars for graduate students, and served as a member of the School's Diversity and Inclusion committee.
In her current role as the founding director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering she provides leadership in developing and implementing future steps in the engineering school's ongoing diversity initiatives, including thoughtful practices to enhance recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups at the student, faculty and staff levels, and to foster greater inclusion of diverse groups and viewpoints in the academic community.