Leerkes has been a faculty member at UNCG since 2002. She was promoted to Professor in 2013 and appointed Associate Dean for Research in the School of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) in 2017. In the latter role, she has worked diligently, strategically, and collaboratively to nurture and strengthen research activities throughout HHS and across campus.
She is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on parent-child relationships during infancy and early childhood. She has published more than one hundred peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters and she has been instrumental in securing a dozen external grants. As investigator or principal investigator, she has received more than $12 million in NIH funding alone. She currently serves on four editorial boards, has served as a member of an NIH study section since 2014, and presented more than 125 papers or posters at national and international conferences.
Leerkes is also an award-winning teacher and mentor. Recognition of her teaching excellence includes the Mary Frances Stone Outstanding Teacher Award (in the former School of HES) and the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in HHS. She has directed a dozen masters theses and doctoral dissertations and served as a member on numerous other student committees.
Interim Dean Dave Demo said, “I am thrilled that we are able to recognize Dr. Leerkes with a distinguished professorship that she so richly deserves. She has had a prolific scholarly record, along with sustained success in securing external funding, teaching and mentoring. Dr. Leerkes is also an energetic and enthusiastic ambassador for research in HHS and across campus.”
The Jefferson-Pilot Excellence Professorship was established in 1983 when Excellence Fund contributions from the Pilot Life Insurance Company and Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company were combined to form one endowment fund.