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Meet Sanford's Newest Faculty

November 12, 2014

The Sanford School added six new positions to the core faculty for the 2014-2015 academic year. The new faculty bring a mix of scholarship and experience in positions that will strengthen the school’s key policy areas.  

Natalia Mirovitskaya and Eric Mlyn have served at Duke for many years and received new appointments in the Sanford School. Deondra Rose received her first academic appointment as assistant professor, while Matthew C. Harding, Marcos A. Rangel and Steven Sexton all came to Sanford from other universities. 

Matthew Harding PortaitMatthew Harding 

“I call it deep data rather than big data. Solving the most challenging problems of our time requires adding depth to data by linking many separate datasets and drawing on expertise across a number of different disciplines.”

Assistant Professor Matthew Harding comes to Duke from Stanford University, where he was assistant professor of economics. At Stanford, he did innovative work on developing “Big Data” methods to better understand consumer behavior, using large data sets recorded by supermarket scanners or smart electricity meters.

Harding is interested in how people make decisions in a data-rich world and how that can shape policy solutions in health, energy and the environment. To improve individual and social welfare, he seeks to combine the use of three fundamental levers: prices, behavioral nudges and technology. As a faculty fellow in the Duke Energy Initiative, Harding will oversee the new Energy Data Analytics Lab, which seeks to derive data-driven solutions to challenging energy systems problems. He also is the director of the new Duke-UNC USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. Learn more at Matthew Harding's faculty profile page.

Natalia Mirovitskaya PortraitNatalia Mirovitskaya

​“Working at Duke has allowed me to find a supportive environment with colleagues from different disciplines. Having development professionals from around the world in your classroom is an invigorating intellectual experience.” 

Associate Professor of the Practice Natalia Mirovitskaya joined Duke University in 1995 as a visiting research professor of public policy and comparative area studies. She has published extensively on sustainable development, environmental security and peacebuilding, and has taught in several countries.

Mirovitskaya received a PhD in International Economics from the Russian Academy of Science in 1981. She began her professional life at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), where her work focused on resource regimes. 

While living through a period of radical societal transformation in Russia, Mirovitskaya combined her academic interests and social passions when she co-founded the Russian Association of University Women in 1991. As a vice president of the association, she developed collaborative projects with international women’s organizations and participated in several UN and other global initiatives to promote gender-sensitive policies. 

In 1995, Mirovitskaya began her collaboration with William Ascher, founder of the Duke Center for International Development. They have produced numerous publications including The Caspian Sea: a Quest for Environmental Security (2000), A Guide to Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy (2002), and four volumes stemming from a multi-country research project, Economic Development Strategies to Avert Collective Violence (2012-2014). Ascher and Mirovitskaya are also co-editors of the Palgrave Macmillan series “Politics, Economics and Inclusive Development.” Learn more at Natalia Mirovitskaya's faculty profile page.  

Eric Myln PortaitEric Mlyn

​“I hope to explore ways that civic engagement and service-learning experiences can lead students to realize the full potential of democratic citizenship.”

Eric Mlyn, now a lecturer in public policy at Sanford, has spent his nearly 15 years at Duke building programs in experiential and civic education.  As the Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage and Assistant Vice Provost for Civic Engagement, Mlyn leads Duke’s signature civic engagement immersion program for students and guides civic engagement projects across the university.

Mlyn came to Duke in 2000 as the founding director of the Robertson Scholars Program. The program awards merit scholarships to selected students from Duke and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who come together on both campuses for special seminars, leadership development and summer programs. A political scientist by training, Mlyn was an assistant professor at UNC, Chapel Hill, director of the Burch Programs and associate director at the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Learn more about Eric Mlyn on the Duke Engage website.

Marcos Rangel PortraitMarcos Rangel

“As a social scientist, I think skin color is going to be an increasingly pertinent issue in the United States, considering the demographic trends such as immigration and mixed marriages. I bring my Brazilian eyes to the study of the problem." 

Assistant Professor Marcos A. Rangel’s research examines the development and accumulation of human capital using the methods of demography and economics. He is interested in how decisions within families about investing in children interact with public policies, such as public education and health care, in both developed and developing countries.   

Prior to Duke, he was an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, an associate economics professor at the University of Sao Paulo-Brazil and a visiting associate professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. 

A native of Brazil, Rangel grew up in a mixed race family; his father is “mulatto,” his mother is blonde and blue-eyed and his siblings look different from one another. Mixed-race families are common in Brazil, and tonality is a way of classifying people, he said. This sparked his interest in studying the racial aspects of human capital, such as the interaction of skin tone and wages and the racial achievement gap in education.  Learn more at Marcos Rangel's faculty profile page.

Deondra Rose PortraitDeondra Rose

“Title X leveled the playing field, but it is now incumbent on the girls and the boys to show up.”

Assistant Professor Deondra Rose researches how higher education policy has promoted greater equality for women and minorities in social and political arenas. She has examined landmark federal policies, such as the Higher Education Act of 1965, which provided college financial aid, and the 1972 Title IX amendment banning exclusion from educational programs based on gender, in combination with datasets to track the effects on gender dynamics in the United States. 

In looking at the 1958 National Defense Education Act, part of the U.S. reaction to Sputnik, Rose realized “equality was an accidental outcome” of the act. The bill’s authors wanted to support not just education in science, but in literature and the humanities. It funded education at all levels and so helped girls and well as boys.  

Rose is working on a book on how higher education policy in the latter part of the 20th century has affected women’s civic opportunities. Prior to her graduate studies, Rose worked in education in Georgia and on political campaigns for a Georgia Senate candidate and a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota.  Learn more at Deondra Rose's faculty profile page.

Steven Sexton PortaitSteven Sexton 

“Having seen the consequences of ineffective and missing environmental and energy policy in countries around the world, I am motivated to identify policy solutions that maximize environmental gains and minimize costs. A costly policy that does little to improve outcomes crowds out a policy that can improve the environment and energy security.”

Steven Sexton, assistant professor, uses microeconomic theory to examine the intersection of sustainability, agriculture, energy and the environment. He has studied the effectiveness of California’s subsidies for residential rooftop solar systems, the economic impact of genetically modified crops, and the connection and trade-offs between raising crops for biofuel or for food. He is also a faculty fellow with the Duke Energy Initiative. 

Sexton has been a triathlete since 2006, and tried out for a position on the 2012 Olympic team in the same year he was completing his doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is on the board of directors of the USA Triathlon, the governing body for competitions in the United States. 

Before coming to Duke, Sexton was assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at North Carolina State University. He is a contributor to Freakonomics.com, writing on everything from the economics of shale gas to Christmas trees. Lean more at Steven Sexton's faculty profile page.