Leadership Team

Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Mohamed Ahmedna is dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A&T.  He has 20 years of experience in teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, student advising, academic administration and applied research. He has served as a science and technology fellow at the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, where he worked on national science priorities, including strategies and policies for research, education and extension. He has a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and ocean engineering from the Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II, three master’s degrees – one in food science from Louisiana State University (LSU), one in applied statistics from LSU and one in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – and a doctorate in food science from LSU. He is the project director for the MEA Center of Excellence.

Antoine J. Alston, Ph.D.
N.C. A&T

Antoine J. Alston is associate dean for academic studies in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A&T and professor of agricultural education. His research interests include instructional technology/distance learning within agricultural settings, employability skills, the development of all-inclusive/diverse learning environments within agricultural settings, and African American agricultural history. He serves on the NC FFA Board of Directors, the National MANRRS Advisory Board and the Urban Agricultural Academy Advisory Board.  He received his baccalaureate and master’s degrees in agricultural education from N.C. A&T and his doctorate in agricultural education from Iowa State University. He is a host co-PI for the center.

Nina Lyon Bennett, Ph.D
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Nina Lyon Bennett is assistant dean for academics in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences (SAFHS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). She is responsible for fostering a spirit of excellence, assisting in developing and implementing policies and procedures, and providing creative leadership as it relates to student mentoring and recruitment, retention and timely degree completion in the school. Over her 30-year career in higher education, she has served in both leadership and instructional roles as director of member education and strategic research for the EAB (formerly known as the Education Advisory Board) in Washington, D.C., and as chair and associate professor of social sciences and human ecology for the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Earlier in her career, she worked as an assistant professor for the Department of Sociology at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Clark College, a master’s in sociology from Atlanta University, a doctorate in child and family development from the University of Georgia, and she has earned several graduate certificates. She is a co-PI for the center.

Olga Bolden-Tiller, Ph.D.
Tuskegee University

Olga Bolden-Tiller is a professor of animal sciences, head of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and assistant dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences at Tuskegee University. On behalf of Tuskegee, she has established numerous collaborations with a variety of domestic and international organizations to promote sustainable agriculture. She has served as director of the university’s NSF-funded Integrative Biosciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and currently directs several summer pre-college programs. She has served as a research mentor for more than 50 high school, undergraduate and graduate students. She earned her B.S. in agricultural sciences at Fort Valley State University and her Ph.D. in animal sciences at the University of Missouri. She completed post-doctoral training at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and earned a post-graduate certificate in academic leadership at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Misty Blue-Terry, Ph.D.
N.C. A&T

Misty Blue-Terry serves as the 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) specialist with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T. Her work focuses on expanding the STEM workforce pipeline by providing educational programs in underserved communities, both urban and rural. She is committed to broadening the reach of 4-H and STEM in underrepresented communities and increasing the participation of girls in science programs. She earned her B.S, M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering and human factors engineering from N.C. A&T. She is a host co-PI and a co-director for the center.

Michelle Corley, Ph.D.
Virginia State University

Michelle Corley is interim chair of the Department of Agriculture at Virginia State University. She is a professor in the College of Agriculture with more than 20 years of experience in animal health and disease, including expertise in molecular immunology and genetics, ruminant microbiology, molecular genetic screening, and animal care and welfare. Her research focus is genetic disease resistance, particularly gastrointestinal parasites. Her most recent research endeavor is the genetic control of fatty acid metabolism and natural remedies for gastrointestinal parasites in small ruminants. As interim chair, she leads a diverse group of agricultural scientists and engages in the teaching and research training of graduate and undergraduate students, high school teachers and high school students in the areas of animal health and molecular immunology and genetics. A graduate of Auburn University and Tuskegee University, she has initiated a new International Agriculture Certificate program in her department. She is a co-PI for the center.

Paula E. Faulkner, Ph.D.
N.C. A&T

Paula E. Faulkner is a professor of agricultural education at N.C. A&T. In addition to instructing undergraduate and graduate students, she chairs and serves on thesis and dissertation committees and seeks funding to increase the number of underrepresented students in the agricultural sciences. Her research also focuses on addressing the needs of women farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and programs to support agricultural educators. She earned a B.S. in agricultural technology (animal husbandry) and a M.S. in agricultural and extension education, both from N.C. A&T, and a Ph.D. in agricultural and extension education from Pennsylvania State University. She is a board member for the North Carolina Fulbright Alumni Association and serves as on the editorial board for the NACTA Journal and the European Scientific Journal (ESJ). For her research efforts, she was selected as A&T’s Junior Researcher of the Year (2013-2014). She is a host co-PI and a co-director for the center.

Adrian Hendricks
Lincoln University

Adrian Hendricks is 4-H and youth development state specialist with Lincoln University Cooperative Extension. He has facilitated leadership workshops, trained implementation leaders, initiated statewide conferences and support coalitions, and led regional focus groups and funding taskforce initiatives. He has collaborated with more than 650 high schools and worked extensively with youth and young adults between the ages of 8 and 24. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University, a master’s in education from William Woods University, a master’s in church planting from Liberty University and a doctorate in divinity. He is finishing a doctorate in organizational leadership with Grand Canyon University. He is a co-PI for the center.

Jurgen G. Schwarz, Ph.D.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Jurgen G. Schwartz is chair of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences and a professor of food science and technology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. His research interests are food safety and value-added processing and bio-conversion of agricultural products and food processing wastes for food and other industrial purposes. In addition to his extensive teaching experience, he has directed four students on their master's theses and eight students on their Ph.D. dissertations, and he has served on numerous advisory committees for other M.S. and Ph.D. students. He earned his food engineer diploma at the University of Hohenheim in Germany and his Ph.D. in food science and technology at Cornell University. He is a co-PI for the center.

Verian D. Thomas, Ph.D.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Verian D. Thomas is a professor and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) at Florida A&M University. She is a veteran, higher education administrator, who has implemented and efficiently managed undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Passionate about the success of her students, she has built support systems that have resulted in higher retention, progression and graduation rates. She continues to offer summer programs for middle and high school students, teachers and counselors as a means of introducing them to food and agricultural sciences. She has created a 9-12 high school bridge program that she hopes will continue to be a pathway for its graduates to CAFS. She earned a B.S. in chemistry at Carleton University, an M.S. in inorganic/analytical chemistry at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in food science at the University of Leeds in England. She is a co-PI for the center.