Meet the Panelists (DSF 2020)

Submitted by mantry on Wed, 02/28/2018 - 22:42

**Saturday, March 7th @ Shenanigans Irish Pub (upstairs)**

10:00am – Futuristic Medicine: The Role of Technology in Public Health

Technology plays a huge role in all of our daily lives, and an increasingly important role in public health practice. Steady advances in gene editing techniques and improved understanding of brain chemistry are just a couple of examples of how science seeks to improve our ability to protect and improve health, while rapid chemical and technological innovations in industry may pose novel and long-lasting risks to public health. Join our diverse panel of experts in a discussion of how these ongoing developments may affect the health and well-being of future generations.

Brett Clementz

Brett Clementz has examined basic neural bases of basic sensory and high-level cognitive impairment in individuals with psychosis using a variety of brain imaging technologies, including structural and functional MRI, high-density EEG, and whole-head MEG for over 25 years. His research program has the goal of understanding neural circuitries that support sensory registration and cognition in psychosis and related psychiatric syndromes and developing biomarker-based classification systems for individuals’ health and well-being. This research has primarily involved discerning how neural activities in a “controlled” system (e.g., sensory cortices) are influenced by a “controlling” system (e.g., prefrontal cortex). This work, by its nature, is translational. The biomarker models we use in our psychosis studies can be, and have been, ported to translational (animal research) analogues. The advantage of this approach is that it works with biomarkers that are involved in the complex pathway associated with psychosis. As it does not rely on the clinical diagnosis, it creates meaningful translational analogues for furthering the understanding of basic mechanisms and testing novel treatment approaches. His work takes an explicit clinical and translational systems-oriented approach that cannot be reasonably accomplished without using multiple and multi-level neuroscience methodologies.

Frank Crittenden


Frank Crittenden earned his Ph.D in biomedical sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016. He has been teaching biology classes at UNG Dahlonega since 2017 and leads an undergraduate research team that is investigating the mechanisms of oxidative stress protection in neurons.

Amy Patterson


Amy Patterson is an Assistant Professor and the Chair of the Public Health Department at Agnes Scott College where she teaches courses on global health, health communications, maternal and reproductive health, malaria, intervention methods and research methods. She holds degrees in International Health and Behavioral Science and Health Education. She has worked on both global and domestic public health projects related to child health, malaria, HIV, neglected tropical diseases, maternal health, and patient narratives of their healthcare and illness experiences. She employs both qualitative and quantitative methods in her work to evaluate existing health programs, and to develop recommendations for new approaches.
Jamie Paysour


Jamie Paysour is a board-certified genetic counselor who earned her master’s degree in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling at Emory University in 2016. As a genetic counselor in the Cancer Genetics Program at Northside Hospital, she meets with patients and their relatives to discuss the complexities of genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk. In her position at Northside, she assists as needed with educating local providers about genetic testing processes and supervising Emory students during their clinical rotations. Outside of her clinical role, Jamie has served the past two years as the committee director on the Georgia Association of Genetic Counselors’ executive board. As committee director, she has assisted in the coordination of statewide genetics education conferences, prospective student seminars, and has led a grant review committee that supports research efforts of local genetics providers and genetic counseling students.
Rachel Rogers


Rachel Rogers is a toxicologist and subject matter expert in per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Rachel has a BS in Chemistry from the University of Georgia (Athens, GA, 2006), an MA in Environmental Studies/Reproductive Toxicology from Brown University (Providence, RI, 2008), and a PhD in Toxicology from the University of Georgia (Athens, GA, 2016).  Her research has focused on pharmacokinetic modeling of PFAS with an emphasis on human exposure. She has authored or co-authored many peer reviewed journal articles on the topic. She has worked at the CDC with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry since 2008 and currently serves as the Scientific Lead for the PFAS Community of Practice. 

Ed Erickson


Edward L. Erickson (Moderator) has extensive domestic and international managerial experience in diagnostics, therapeutics, and life science research products having served as president, CEO, or a director/chairman of over a dozen private and public companies in these industries. Most recently Mr. Erickson served as chairman of MDxHealth, S.A. {EuroNext: MDXH}, a publicly-traded molecular diagnostics company specializing in uro-oncology. His operating experience includes prior service as president and CEO of Saladax, a privately-held personalized medicine company specializing in companion diagnostic and therapeutic dose management assays. Earlier, he served as interim president and CEO of BioNanomatrix, Inc. (now BioNano Genomics), a privately held genomics company developing and commercializing proprietary DNA analysis systems. Previously, he was Chairman, President and CEO of Cellatope Corporation, a private company developing diagnostic products in the field of autoimmune diseases. He continues to serve as Trustee of the Cellatope Corporation Liquidating Trust, which was established to distribute proceeds to shareholders from the sale of Cellatope’s assets to a public biotech company. Prior to this, he served in top leadership roles, including president, CEO and/or chairman, of three venture-capital backed medical products companies, Cholestech (point-of care diagnostics), DepoTech (pharmaceuticals/drug delivery technology) and Immunicon (cellular diagnostics), all three of which successfully completed initial public offerings (IPOs) under his leadership. Earlier in his career, Mr. Erickson held senior executive positions at The Ares-Serono Group (acquired by Merck, KGaA) and Amersham International (acquired by GE). His board experience includes service as an independent chairman/director and his board committee experience includes chairmanship and/or membership in the Audit, Compensation, Nominating & Governance and Transaction (M&A) committees of both public and private corporations. Early in his career he worked in the fields of information technology, energy and natural resources, and defense systems. Mr. Erickson holds an MBA with high distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, where he was elected a Baker Scholar and was awarded the Loeb Rhoades Fellowship in Finance. He received a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he also completed his M.S. in Mathematics. He did military service as an officer in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine force, including duty aboard the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world’s first nuclear submarine.


11:30am – Natural Disasters: Using Predictive Power to Prepare for the Inevitable

There is no better demonstration of the immense scale and sheer power of Earth than natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, and more! Historically, these types of events have been known to reshape continents and devastate entire populations. Our panel of experts will discuss how science continues to aid in humanity's efforts to understand and mitigate the risks associated with these inevitable global events.

Kelli McCarthy

Kelli McCarthy is an Emergency Preparedness Manager at the University of Georgia’s Institute for Disaster Management. In her current role, Kelli manages the Georgia Healthcare Coalition Assistance Program and the HHS Region IV Operation Wesley Ebola Exercise Program. The Georgia Healthcare Coalition Assistance Program (GHCAP) serves as the fiduciary agent for Georgia’s fourteen healthcare coalitions and aids coalitions in the procurement of goods and services to enhance the coalition’s emergency preparedness programs. The HHS Region IV Operation Wesley Exercise Program is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional exercise program focusing on HHS Region IV facilities and associated response partners to respond to patients presenting at various facilities with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and suspect travel history. Upon completion, the HHS Region IV Operation Wesley Full Scale Exercise was the largest multi-state EVD exercise conducted in the United States. Kelli holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography with an interdisciplinary certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS) from the University of Georgia and a Master’s degree in GIS from the University of Maryland. Kelli has attended many trainings and holds numerous certifications with topics ranging from incident command to disaster life support. She currently holds the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Georgia Emergency Manager Certification, the Emergency Management Healthcare Professional certification from the Georgia Department of Public Health, and is a trained-trainer for both Georgia hospital first-receiver decontamination and Homeland Security WMD radiological/nuclear awareness.

Lorraine Morris


Lorraine Morris is is the Deputy Director of the Emergency Management Agency in Lumpkin County, Georgia. She has worked several local and regional disasters during her more than 20 year career in public safety. Lorraine holds a masters certificate in Emergency Management and is also certified as a GA Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-I), and amateur radio operator.
Andrew Newman

Andrew Newman is a Professor of Geophysics at Georgia Tech. His research is on active deformation and brittle failure of the Earth's lithosphere in seismic and volcanic provinces. This can be broadly described as earthquake and volcano physics through geodesy and seismology. Dr. Newman's research focuses on the physical processes that drive geologic hazards, with the understanding that through understanding and characterization we can then usefully mitigate the risk.

Chris Seminack


Chris Seminack performs research that deals with analyzing the geologic framework of coastal environments, specifically the barrier islands along the U.S. Atlantic coast. He is especially interested in storm impacts on barrier islands and tidal inlet dynamics. He focuses on reconstructing former tidal inlets along barrier islands using a multi-proxy approach. Techniques that he employs include the analysis of aerial photography and historic nautical charts, remote sensing, geophysical surveying, sediment coring, and geochronology. His other areas of interest are climate change, sea-level change, and ancient coastal environments in the rock record.

Mark Spraker


Mark Spraker is a professor of physics who teaches all levels of physics at UNG and is associated faculty at Duke University, where he has conducted research since 1995. His research in nuclear physics has been supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant since 1997. Along with two faculty from UNG’s College of Education, Spraker helped found the North Georgia Undergraduate Education Program with funding from the National Science Foundation to bolster the number and ability of STEM-prepared secondary education teachers in north Georgia. He also collaborated with faculty from the college of Education to provide STEM content and pedagogical training to 70 elementary teachers from counties in the UNG service area over the last four years.


1:00pm – Our Universe: A Continuous Evolution

The Universe may seem to us like a calm and static place in which humanity continues to evolve. But, over timescales much longer than our own human lifetimes, there are stars and galaxies that are born and then die with nothing much more than a brief flicker of light. This panel will discuss the largest scales of space and time, of which we occupy but a tiny fraction, to see what we can understand about a Universe that will continue long after we are gone, and how that understanding may shape our own humanity.

Jeffrey Bennett


Jeffrey Bennett is the author of six children's books that have been selected for the Story Time from Space program, and of several critically-acclaimed books for the general public including What is Relativity?, Math for Life, On Teaching Science, and A Global Warming Primer. He is also the lead author of college textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics. Combined, his books have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Other career highlights include teaching at every level from preschool through graduate school, spending two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA Headquarters, proposing and co-leading the creation of the Voyage Scale Model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and creating the free app "Totality by Big Kid Science" to help people learn about and view solar eclipses. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award. Dr. Bennett is an acclaimed public speaker for all ages. He has spoken at nearly 200 elementary schools, at numerous middle and high schools, at dozens of colleges and universities, and for many groups of scientists and educators in the U.S. and internationally.

Misty Bentz


Misty Bentz is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University.  As an astrophysicist, she specializes in ground- and space-based imaging and spectroscopy, with a focus on active galactic nuclei and black holes.  Her work utilizes several well-known telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gemini Observatory, and the Apache Point Observatory.  Her research program is supported by grants totaling over $1 million, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and several NASA grants.  In addition, her Early Release Science Program proposal was recently selected as one of the first science programs to be conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope, making her one of the first astronomers in the world that will get to test out the capabilities of NASA’s next flagship mission.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a NASA Hubble Fellowship, the GSU College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, and the GSU Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award.  Dr. Bentz has published over 85 peer-reviewed publications, and her work has been cited more than 6,000 times.  In the media, she has been featured by outlets such as National Geographic, Popular Science, Business Insider, Mashable, Georgia Magazine, WABE Atlanta, and NBC 11 Alive, among others.

Ed Macaulay


Ed Macaulay is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of North Georgia. His field of research is cosmology, viewing the universe as the most extreme physics lab we have. His focus is on understanding space - not the stuff in space - but the space itself. He thinks it's amazing that we can look out at the most vast scales in the cosmos, and learn about the smallest particles and the earliest moments of the universe. He is a member of the supernova cosmology group in the Dark Energy Survey. Specifically, his research focuses on leveraging supernova observations to study the cosmos in new ways. He is particularly interested in probing space-time by studying the effects of gravitational lensing and peculiar velocities on supernovae. He loves science outreach and teaching physics. He's taught courses on electromagnetism, mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, general relativity, and cosmology. He's presented many outreach talks and activities to schools, astronomy groups, and the public. He is particularly keen on engaging with audiences that do not typically engage with science at all. He's engaged with science outreach in bars, cafes, cinemas, local radio, and music festivals.

Amanda Moffett


Amanda Moffett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Georgia. Amanda completed her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with dissertation research focused on constraining galaxy evolution models with large-scale galaxy survey observations. She has previously worked as a team member on the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey headquartered at the University of Western Australia and a Stevenson Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University. Now at UNG, Amanda teaches multiple courses in physics and astronomy and continues to research the physical processes governing galaxy formation and evolution as a collaborator on multiple large galaxy survey projects. 

Sarah Formica Sarah Formica (Moderator) is a faculty member in the UNG Department of Physics and Astronomy. Her research focuses on X-ray spectroscopy.


2:30pm – Artificial Intelligence: Implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The mechanization of manufacturing with the power of steam; advances in science and engineering driving increased mass production; digital technologies and computing revolutionizing global communication; artificial intelligence (AI) merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds. Civilization has experienced several stages of industrial advancement beginning in the late 1800's and continuing to this day, when developments in AI may fundamentally alter the way in which we live, work, and relate to each other - potentially reshaping society as we know it. Our experts will discuss key technologies and their implications in what has been called the "Fourth Industrial Revolution".

Fred Maier


Fred Maier is the Associate Director of and an Assistant Research Scientist at UGA's Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Before that, he was a Lecturer in UGA's Computer Science Department. He has also been a research fellow at Aston Business School in Birmingham, England, a postdoc at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and a visiting researcher in the Kno.e.sis Center of Wright State University. His research is in logic and artificial intelligence, particularly knowledge representation and nonclassical (nonmonotonic and paraconistent) reasoning. He has a PhD in computer science and a master's degree in artificial intelligence, both from UGA. Before computer science and artificial intelligence, he studied philosophy at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Nathan McNeese


Nathan McNeese is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Team Research Analytics in Computational Environments (TRACE) Research Group within the division of Human-Centered Computing in the School of Computing at Clemson University. He is also Director of the Clemson University Data Lab. His research interests focus on human-centered artificial intelligence (AI) and human-AI teaming. He currently serves on multiple international/societal program and technical committees, in addition to multiple editorial boards. He is a member of the National Academies of Science Panel on Human Factors Science, and previous member of the Army Research Lab HERD Technical Advisory Board. His research has received multiple best paper awards/nominations and has been published in peer-reviewed venues over 65 times. In addition, he has acquired over $8M in research funding from agencies such as NSF, ONR, AFOSR, and AHRQ.

Chuck Robertson


Chuck Robertson is a Professor of Psychological Science and director of the Cognition and Gerotechnology lab. He is currently working with undergraduate students on projects related to human computer interaction. Projects include using Internet of Things (IoT) appliances to increase independent living as we age, using IoT devices (i.e. Alexa, Google Home, Siri) as study partners rather than human peers, and, using virtual reality (VR) to train/enhance the training of mindfulness practice.

Yong Wei


Yong Wei is a professor of computer science at the University of North Georgia. His research currently focuses on machine learning and its applications in computer vision, medical image processing, and geo-science. Projects include using convolutional neural networks to identify lives in outer space, and early gastric cancer diagnosis. 

Sonny Mantry


Sonny Mantry (Moderator) is Sonny Mantry, PhD, is an associate professor in the UNG Department of Physics and Astronomy.  His research is in the area of theoretical nuclear and particle physics. He has worked on a variety of problems in particle physics relevant to various experiments including those at the Large Hadron Collider, the Tevatron, and the proposed Electron-Ion collider.


4:00pm – Climate Action: Building a Resilient Future

The science is clear - human activity has made, and will continue to make, a measurable impact on the world's climate. Just how consequential these global changes will be depends on the actions we take now and in the near future, and how we develop a resiliency to climate-related risks. This discussion will focus on how we can convince those who remain skeptical of the urgency of this issue and on the actions that we can take as individuals and as a nation towards ensuring a bright and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.

Jeffrey Bennett


Jeffrey Bennett is the author of six children's books that have been selected for the Story Time from Space program, and of several critically-acclaimed books for the general public including What is Relativity?, Math for Life, On Teaching Science, and A Global Warming Primer. He is also the lead author of college textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics. Combined, his books have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Other career highlights include teaching at every level from preschool through graduate school, spending two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA Headquarters, proposing and co-leading the creation of the Voyage Scale Model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and creating the free app "Totality by Big Kid Science" to help people learn about and view solar eclipses. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award. Dr. Bennett is an acclaimed public speaker for all ages. He has spoken at nearly 200 elementary schools, at numerous middle and high schools, at dozens of colleges and universities, and for many groups of scientists and educators in the U.S. and internationally.

Kim Cobb


Kim Cobb conducts research that uses observations of past and present climate to advance our understanding of future climate change impacts. She received her B.A. from Yale University in 1996, and her Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2002. She spent two years at Caltech in the Department of Geological and Planetary Sciences before joining the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2004. Kim has sailed on multiple oceanographic cruises to the deep tropics and led caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo in support of her research. Kim has received numerous awards for her research, most notably a NSF CAREER Award in 2007, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008. She is honored to be a Lead Author for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. As a mother to four, Kim is a strong advocate for women in science, and champions diversity and inclusion in all that she does. She is also devoted to the clear and frequent communication of climate change to the public through speaking engagements and social media.

Jeff Landgren


Jeff Landgren joined the UNG Mathematics faculty in 2016. His mathematical research interests lie primarily in Partial Differential Equations and the application to fluid flow. From there, he has spent most of his time on two projects. The first project pertains to the movement of electrons in batteries, capacitors, and solar cells and how sound can enhance these electronic devices. The second project focuses on injecting more precision into the equations that illustrate the flow of sea ice in the Arctic. On the mathematics education side, Jeffrey is also interested in teaching techniques that facilitate growth mindset. In short, his research in teaching is centered around mechanisms that heal poor mathematics experiences while enabling self-confidence.  He is also a member of the Mathematical Association of America’s Project NExT program (2017 – Blue Dot). Lastly, Dr. Landgren is a passionate hiker who once hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2009.

Frank Lock


Frank Lock taught middle school science outside of Niagara Falls, NY from 1974-1979. From 1979 – 2009, he taught chemistry, physics and astronomy at Lemon Bay H.S. in Englewood, FL. Frank retired in 2009, and relocated to Gainesville, Georgia. From August, 2014, through May, 2018 he was the PhysTEC Teacher in Residence in the Georgia State physics and astronomy department. He became a Climate Reality Project presenter in 2019 and has made numerous presentations throughout Georgia.

John Indergaard


John Indergaard (Moderator) is an alumnus of Georgia Tech Physics, where he obtained his M.S. degree studying the electromagnetic properties of nanometer-scale clusters of metal atoms, and now works as the Lab Coordinator for UNG's Department of Physics and Astronomy. In addition to teaching and developing lab curriculum at UNG, John's interests in science outreach have led him to become active in informal education settings like the Atlanta Science Festival and the Dahlonega Science Festival, working towards cultivating a general interest in applying science and problem solving to everyday life. John also participates in UNG's Sustainability Club, developing initiatives to increase student involvement in demanding action on campus to address systemic environmental issues that need urgent attention due to the increasing threat posed by Climate Change.