August 17, 2022

Dr. Melinda Beck

Dr. Melinda Beck

Melinda Beck, PhD, has been named the interim chair of the Department of Nutrition at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, beginning September 1.

Beck has been a faculty member at UNC since 1992 and joined the Department of Nutrition faculty in 1996. Currently, she is a professor of nutrition and the associate chair for academics within the department.

Outgoing chair Beth Mayer-Davis, PhD, the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine and the director of the UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center, will begin a new role as dean of The Graduate School at UNC, effective Sept. 1. She was chair of the nutrition department for eight years.

“We chose to appoint Dr. Beck as interim chair in part because of her long experience with the academic mission of the department,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, outgoing dean of the Gillings School. “This year will be a critical one as we prepare for reaccreditation with the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), and she will get up to speed quickly as she has been involved with the CEPH self-study process in prior rounds.”

The Gillings School’s incoming dean, Nancy Messonnier, MD, was involved in the interim chair selection process. Soon after she begins her work as dean — also on September 1 — she will appoint a committee to conduct a national search for a permanent nutrition department chair.

In Beck’s laboratory, researchers study the relationship between host nutrition and the immune response to infectious disease, including an ongoing clinical study of the mechanisms that impair influenza vaccine response in obese adults compared with healthy weight adults.

Beck earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California; a Master of Science in biological sciences from California Polytechnic University; and a doctorate in microbiology/immunology from The Ohio State University

She previously has served as director-at-large in the American Society for Nutrition and on the UNC-Chapel Hill Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee. She also has chaired the University’s Education Policy Committee and been part of the Graduate School Administrative Board.

“I am honored to fill this role for the next year,” Beck said. “I look forward to being part of Gillings’ ongoing effort to improve public health around the world through teaching, research and service.”

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