Two Duke Fellows Received North Carolina’s Highest Honor


Two Duke faculty members will be honored Thursday with the state’s highest civilian honor, the North Carolina Award. Governor Roy Cooper will present the award to Timothy B. Tyson for Literature and Blake S. Wilson for Science.

The award was established by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service, and science.

Literature: Timothy B. Tyson

Both in award-winning books and as a popular class teacher, Tyson presents an unwavering look at racial and other divisions in the United States with the goal of striving for a better and more equitable future. Principal investigator at the Center for Documentary Studies, Tyson specializes in cultural, religious and racial issues associated with the civil rights movement.

He is widely known for books such as “The Blood of Emmett Till”, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and “Blood Done Sign My Name”, a National Book Critics Circle finalist. . Prize and winner of the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction. The first featured new research into the death of Emmett Till in Mississippi and the ensuing black activism that helped kickstart civil rights efforts across the country.

Through his work, Tyson has strived to make history accessible and interesting not only to historians and academics, but also to the general public. He has succeeded in creating lasting works that engage readers, deepen our understanding, spark public debate and help bring about change.

Science: Blake S. Wilson

One of the main developers of the cochlear implant, Wilson’s research has restored the hearing of more than a million people worldwide. He is Director of the Duke Hearing Center and Assistant Professor or Consultant in three departments at Duke: Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Winner of the prestigious Lasker Prize for Innovative Medical Research, Wilson began his career as a research engineer at the Research Triangle Institute in 1974, where he began working in 1977 on the seemingly impossible problem of restoring near-normal hearing in deaf people through electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve. Wilson is responsible for the development of the “Continuous Interlaced Sampling” (CIS) system used in modern cochlear implants.

With CIS systems, implant wearers have shown a dramatic improvement in speech recognition and understanding, making the implants much more efficient than previous versions and allowing wearers to converse normally, talk on the phone. , perform tasks requiring hearing, etc. He is also chairman of the Lancet Commission on Hearing Loss, which seeks to identify ways to address the global burden of hearing loss.

In addition to Tyson and Wilson, the 2021 laureates are Dr. Dudley E. Flood for Public Service, David Holt for Fine Arts, Maria F. Spaulding for Public Service and André Leon Talley for Literature.

Awards will also be presented to the 2020 winners – Dr Ralph S. Baric, Dr Francis S. Collins and Dr Kizzmekia S. Corbett – who will receive the North Carolina Award for Science in recognition of their work to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID. -19.

“Through their extraordinary accomplishments, these individuals have enriched North Carolina and our nation,” said Reid Wilson, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in the announcement. “Each of them has improved the lives of North Carolinians through their enduring achievements in the arts, sciences and public service. “


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