A One-Woman Band in Academics, Music

Edna Andrews teaches in three Duke departments and plays five instruments

Edna Andrews, Duke's Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, performed at Petrovsky Hall at Saint Petersburg State University during a recent trip to Russia. Photos courtesy of Edna Andrews
Edna Andrews, Duke's Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, performed at Petrovsky Hall at Saint Petersburg State University during a recent trip to Russia. Photos courtesy of Edna Andrews

Name: Edna AndrewsPosition: Linguistics and cultural anthropology professor; Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies; Chair of the Linguistics Program; Director of Duke Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European StudiesYears at Duke: 30 What I do at Duke: I’m chair of the Linguistics Program, and I am the principal investigator for two grants. I’m in three Duke programs – Anthropology, Linguistics and Slavics, so there are lots of needs that need to be met in those areas. I also teach a lot of neuroscience majors. I’m always working on new research projects. My book with Cambridge University Press just came out, “Neuroscience and Multilingualism,” and it’s my 11th book. (Her book examines how languages are represented in the human brain.) If I had $5 million, I would: Probably endow some programs so we could do more innovative programming.My first ever job: I started playing music professionally at the age of 15, and then I never had any other jobs except teaching because I came to Duke right out of graduate school. I play accordion, six- and 12-string guitar, acoustic and electric, and mandolin and clarinet. I do perform professionally in Russia with a colleague who also sings. I have a body of work that I’ve arranged for two voices. I’m there usually two or three months a year. About once a year I perform in the Nelson Music Room at Duke. What I love about Duke: The high quality of students. They’re creative, talented.When I’m not at work, I like to: Play music and sports. I do a lot of swimming and running and working out. I swim 3 kilometers a day at Hollow Rock (Racquet & Swim Club).  An interesting day at work for me: The most recent was last year when I got the Duke University Scholar/Teacher Award; that was very nice. It was at the Academic Council meeting. A lot of my friends were there. I found out about the award when I was directing our program in Russia during the summer. At first I saw an email from our provost and thought, “Oh my God, what’s wrong?” But it was good news. Something unique in my office: I have lots of pictures of St. Petersburg, and a very famous portrait of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova from the Russian Museum. I have interesting, rare Russian books from the turn of the century. Music I like: I like to play and sing more than just listen. When I sing with the Choral Society of Durham, I love to sing things like Verdi’s Requiem.