Course Description

Scientific Excursions and Diversions is a popular invited speaker program where we bring to you experts in the field to tell us about their work. This term the topics range from smallpox to solar power. Our lectures will be coming from as far east as the University of York in England and as far west as Washington State University in Vancouver, Washington. Lectures are followed by Q&A. Note that our program of speakers is subject to change. • Lecture + Q&A.


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Section Title
Symposia: Excursions and Diversions
Online - Zoom
1:30PM to 2:45PM
Feb 16, 2021 to Apr 20, 2021
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Virtual Classroom  
Course Fees
Section Notes

Guest Information:
Feb 16: COVID-19 and Med Schools. Many of our students will remember Dr. Ross McKinney as a frequent speaker at Symposia when among other things he directed the Trent Center for Ethics in Medicine. His medical practice was focused on infections, especially HIV, in children. He left Duke in 2015 to become the chief scientific officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, where he leads an array of programs. Today he’ll be telling us how the virus is affecting medical research and training. Tony Waraksa will moderate this lecture.

Feb 23: Paywalls, Predators, Preprints, and Pirates: Science Publishing in Flux. Professor Misha Angrist of the Duke Science & Society Initiative will be talking about the way science makes its way into the world. Jim Hollowood will moderate this lecture.

March 2: It's 2021--So Where’s My Robot? Professor Robert Healy Emeritus of Environmental Policy and Public Policy Studies at Duke University will argue that "robots" are here already, but they don't look like Robbie or R2D2. Robots will help us with a variety of tasks, but they also will soon threaten millions of jobs--and not just assembly tasks in factories. Jim Hollowood will moderate this lecture.

9: The Insect Apocalypse. Phil Baer will discuss the direct causes of decreasing insect populations. Ed Cox will moderate this lecture.

Mar 16: The Fight for the Eno! Ranger Lawson Osteen and Naturalist Julie Thomson will share the history of how Margaret Nygard and the Eno River Association preserved the land that is now the Eno River State Park and Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Beth Friedman will moderate this lecture.

Mar 23: Could Poetry Save Doctoring? "Doctoring", the therapeutic interaction of health care professionals and patients--has two components: 1) transferring information, and 2) establishing a healing relationship. Too often, over-reliance of information transfer (think lab results) alters the balance of these two components.Poetry, and poetic values, (metaphor, ambiguity, multiplicity) enhance right brain function (vigilance, adaptability to change) can restore the balance. Frank Neelon, MD, came to Duke as an intern in 1962, and except for a few years at the NIH, never left. Tony Waraksa will moderate this lecture.

Mar 30: Digital Literacy And The Search For Truth. Mike Caulfield will be talking with us about potential fraud and how we might protect ourselves. Caulfield is currently the director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University, Vancouver Washington. Jim Hollowood will moderate this lecture.

Apr 6: Reverse Engineering and Cancer Treatments?  Dr. David Needham of Duke is going to be talking about how he and his team reverse engineered nature's designs and developed two treatments for cancer. Mike Smith will moderate this lecture.

Apr 13: North Carolina - A Leader in Clean Energy: How It Happened, Where It’s Going. Ivan Urlaub, who has led NCSEA over the past 15 years, will discuss the history of these amazing developments and anticipate future expansion. Ed Cox will moderate this lecture.

Apr 20: From the University of York, England; Dr. Sanjoy Bhattacharya will be talking with us about the worldwide eradication of smallpox. She is the Professor in the History of Medicine, Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories. Tony Waraksa will moderate this lecture.