Thursday, July 20, 2017

Member Profile: Norbert Wilson

Norbert Wilson is no stranger to the AAEA Annual Meeting.

Wilson got his first chance to share his research as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia. In 1992 he took part in the student paper competition.

As a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, Wilson again went to AAEA meetings as a way to present research and make connections with colleagues. His experience at the meetings continued as a professor; and this year, at the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago, Wilson will become a member of the AAEA Board of Directors. He was elected by fellow members earlier this year.

“It was not always easy.” Wilson said. “As an early career professional, attending the meetings was isolating. I am grateful for my major professor, former classmates, and colleagues in COSBAE who helped me find a place in the association. I am grateful for supportive colleagues who helped me to see the importance of being engaged.”

Wilson says through the years, he has been able to develop a network of colleagues who “encouraged me in subtle and direct ways.”

As a Board member and a long-standing AAEA member, Wilson is now in a position to give advice to the students and early career professionals just as his predecessors did for him. His message to those starting a career in this profession? “Keep at it.”

“The meetings can be daunting,” Wilson says. “Part of the job of an academic is sharing your ideas with others; some will like them and others will not. Thus, learn from rejections and negative comments. Most folks want to see you grow.”

The shift to AAEA Board Member isn’t the only professional change in Wilson’s life right now. Wilson recently left his position of professor at Auburn University to take on a position as Professor of Food Policy in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Wilson says the shift from a small college town in the south to life in Boston has been “tough, but in a good way.” He talked about how it was difficult to leave a good place like Auburn but is excited to take on this new challenge.

“I am at a school of nutrition with colleagues and students of different backgrounds and research objectives,” Wilson says. “Thus, I am learning to communicate and collaborate in new ways. I am learning more about how other fields approach and discuss their work.”

At this year’s Annual Meeting, Wilson says you can find him at the COSBAE/CWAE luncheon, many of the Plenary Sessions, and at the reunions; but only for a little while because “they go a little too late for me!”

Wilson’s final piece of advice for young career professionals at this year’s meeting and beyond? “Learn to be a mentor and lend a hand to those coming behind you.”

Get to know AAEA Members:
Norbert Wilson: “I have a wife and daughter who are simply wonderful. They challenge me, keep me honest, and seek to make me a better person.”

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