Nan Jokerst elected chair of Duke's Academic Council

Nan JokerstThis article originally appeared in Duke Today.

In a competition among friends, Pratt School of Engineering Professor Nan Jokerst defeated Emily Klein to earn a two-year term as chair of the Academic Council.

Jokerst, the J. A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will succeed physicist Josh Socolar, beginning July 1. She will lead the university's 94-member faculty council and chair the council's eight-member executive committee.

Joining the Duke faculty in 2003 following 14 years of teaching at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Jokerst has been a leader at Duke in research, teaching and university service.

She has a long record of participation in university governance, including two terms on the Academic Council and one two-year term on the council's executive committee.  Jokerst has also served on the Academic Programs Committee, the executive committee of the Graduate Faculty and on several trustee committees.  She currently is co-chair of the Academic Council Task Force on Diversity, which is reviewing university diversity policy and procedures. The task force is scheduled to make recommendations later this year that could lead to new diversity initiatives. 

The  Diversity Task Force Steering Committee includes Emily Klein, the faculty member Jokerst defeated in the election. It was an unusual pairing of two faculty friends who are working together on the council Task Force.  But the election, done by electronic voting, went off without a hitch.

In a statement, Jokerst said she expected faculty leadership to be active during what will be a period of transition for the university. 

"We have a new provost, a new chancellor of the health system, we are searching for a new dean of arts and sciences, and we are beginning a strategic planning process," Jokerst said. "Opportunities for faculty input abound. In addition to the individual faculty who lead and are engaged in the planning process, the Academic Council has a significant opportunity to contribute to the strategic plan."

She also cited the need for faculty engagement in the continuing development of Duke Kunshan University, discussions of the campus climate, study of guidelines for the increasing number of proposals for new master's degree programs and completion of the work started by the diversity task force.

"It is critical to include the faculty voice in the decision making processes of the university," Jokerst said. "Universities have a tremendous impact upon our nation and the world, and the faculty has a key responsibility to foster the intellectual development of our community."

One of the nation's leading researchers of integrated optical systems, Jokerst's lab has developed applications that are being used in imaging for breast cancer margin assessment, integrated sensing for biomedical diagnostics, optical connections for computational systems, and metamaterials.  Much of her research has been in collaboration with other Duke faculty, often with multidisciplinary faculty in the biomedical sciences. She is a fellow of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and the Optical Society of America and is the recipient of a Presidential Young Investigator Award and the IEEE Rigas Teaching Award.