Guest Lectures and Special Speakers at Rollins

Andrea Fadel, 1st year Epidemiology student 

One of the most exciting aspects of continuing education is the opportunity to learn from more than your professors through guest lecturers in the classroom and special speakers out of the classroom. Both Emory and Rollins bring fascinating people to campus to share their knowledge and experience. Here is a list of some of my favorite speakers that have visited Emory.

1. Dali lama

One of the most exciting speakers in my mind, the Dali lama came this past October when Emory had a religious conference. He spoke on two occasions, and tickets were distributed by a lottery system. Unfortunately, I did not win that lottery, but I did see his motorcade leave Emory! He is connected to Emory through the Himalayan institute, and comes back every few years.

2. President Jimmy Carter

President Carter speaks every year to the incoming freshman class at Emory, but graduate students can also get tickets to attend. He starts off with a little speech, which leads to a question and answer session. I saw him speak during the Syrian crisis, and he have great insight on his suggestions for a how to secure a peaceful resolution. He also talked about his experiences with the Iranian hostage crisis, which is even more poignant after the movie Argo, and the work the Carter center is doing to eradicate guinea worm.

3. Bill Foege

Former CDC director, author of House on Fire, and key player in the eradication of smallpox, Bill Foege is kind of a public health legend. He comes to Emory for a couple of different lectures, sometimes in the nursing school, medical school, or as the guest of honor during orientation to Rollins. I saw him at the India Summit, which is held every year. He talked about his experiences in India, and his work with smallpox. He also briefly got into the vaccine debate and how to counteract people against vaccines. He shared some lessons he learned about working in public health throughout his career. Afterwards he autographed copies of his book. He was very friendly, and listening to him speak was an amazing experience.

4. Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is an Indian author whose best known work, the Satanic Verses, is a sort of commentary or satire on the Islamic religion. The ayatollah of Pakistan was so upset with that particular novel that they put out a fatwa for him, which is basically a price tag on his life. Because of this, he went to the United Kingdom for asylum, and spent most of the 90’s in hiding. He talked about a University of Chicago professor’s book being banned in India due to its take on Hinduism, and how her situation paralleled his. He also autographed his books at the end of the session, and was amazing to listen to him talk about freedom of authors and freedom of discrimination.

5. Dr. Peter Bennett

Dr. Bennett was one of the first people to perform a longitudinal analysis of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. His study with the Pima Indians was revolutionary, and now is the basis of knowledge for T2DM. He discovered the major risk factors, such as physical inactivity and poor diet, and also was the first to hypothesize that T2DM was preventable. Listening to his descriptions of how his research led to his conclusions on the risk factors for T2DM was fascinating, especially when he talked about all of the people who disagreed. Now, of course, his knowledge has been adopted by the World Health Organization’s criteria for T2DM diagnosis.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of guest lecturers who have spoken at Emory. Rollins also hosts the Public Health Grand Rounds lectures every Friday, with new and interesting speakers (and lunch!). Also, many classes will bring in guest lecturers for a wide range of topics. These can be in specific classes, such as nutrition, maternal and child health, or parasitology, or in general classes such as epidemiology methods. Student organizations, research groups, and departments also bring in guest lecturers. There is always someone interesting coming in, and the topics have an incredible range. When you start at Emory in the fall, there will be many times where there are two amazing speakers lecturing at the same time, so the toughest part will be to pick who to see!

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