Meet the Panelists (DSF 2021)

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

**Saturday, March 6th via Zoom**

12:30pm – Confronting Pandemics

While SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as COVID-19, is the most recent and ongoing example of the havoc that a global pandemic can cause, it is not the first time the world has experienced global viral spread. In fact, having been here before, humans have collectively accrued significant amounts of experience dealing with airborne diseases over time. In the first days and weeks of the COVID pandemic many comparisons were made with the 1918 flu pandemic (also known as the Spanish Flu), for example. That pandemic, now over a century in the past, confronted the United States and the world with a global crisis in a very different era when preparedness and public health strategies were approached in very different ways. Our panel of experts will discuss what the pandemics of the past have taught us, how they changed medical and societal norms in their aftermath, and what lessons we may be able to learn from COVID-19 to better address the inevitable pandemics of the future.

Nancy Dalman


Nancy Dalman's research interests are in the broad area of environmental toxicology.  Specifically she is interested in the innate biochemical and cellular defenses organisms possess to protect them from toxic chemicals in the environment.  Currently she is working with the small salt marsh fish Fundulus heterociltus (killifish), a species that is very tolerant of fluctuations in its physical environment. Her students and she are studying the effects of common environmental contaminants on behaviors such as feeding and optomotor response (important for successful schooling) and on a protein called p-glycoprotein that provides cellular protection by pumping toxicants from the cell.

She also has an interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning and, in particular, how inquiry - based classroom activities influences successful material comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Cornelia Lambert


Cornelia Lambert is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She studied in North Carolina, Florida, Scotland, and Oklahoma before joining the University of North Georgia faculty. Her expertise is in the history of science and medicine.

Neal Lin


Neal Lin is a lecturer in the Biology Department at the University of North Georgia (UNG) – Gainesville campus. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of California, San Diego, a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases from Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health, and a Doctorate of Medicine from Ross University. Prior to coming to UNG, he was an epidemiologist in the public health arena for over 10 years. During that time, Dr. Lin has worked on HIV/AIDS, dengue virus, avian influenza (H5N1), pandemic preparedness, emergency response, waterborne diseases and bioterrorist agents. He received a Fulbright scholarship and was a researcher at the College of Public Health at the National Taiwan University. He was an epidemiologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the McHenry County (IL) Department of Health, and most recently with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Lin’s interests are in communicable diseases and he combines his clinical and public health training to better understand health conditions and determine best strategies to prevent diseases. He is currently interested in how students learn and effective learning strategies and he is excited to be in higher education. Dr. Lin is grateful to be able to share his experiences and expertise with the UNG community. 

Supriya Reddy


Supriya Reddy has research interests that are in the broad area of public health. Specifically, the utilization of health behavior theory to examine risky substance abuse behaviors among college students. Currently, she is examining theoretical predictors related to the mixing of alcohol and energy drinks among college undergraduates and plans to extend her research to other risky college health behaviors. She also has an interest global health initiatives, which have led her to both South Africa and India. These endeavors involved the implementation of health education efforts related to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and hand washing techniques.


2:00pm – Energy and the Environment

Society's growing energy demands seem wholly incompatible with our need to drastically reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to reduce the impacts of climate change, given our heavy reliance on burning fossil fuels for energy production. However, with increasing research and technology efforts over the last several decades our efforts to harness renewable sources of energy have become more affordable and are on track to compete economically with the use fossil fuels in the very near future. Our diverse panel will discuss some of the implications of this competition between the reliance of large economies on fossil fuel production and the global need to make systemic changes to preserve the climate for future generations, as well as local and regional efforts to address sustainability by adapting to small-scale sustainable agricultural practices.

Patrick Bunton


Patrick Bunton is the Department Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Georgia.

Victoria Hightower


Victoria Hightower earned her Ph.D. in 2011 from Florida State University. Her research focuses on the pearl trade, history and heritage in the United Arab Emirates 1800-present. She teaches courses on world history, Middle East history, gender studies, and environmental history.
David Patterson


David Patterson is interested in the relationship between ecosystem change and mammalian evolution. I use a variety of methods including traditional paleontological analyses, stable isotope geochemistry, and ecometrics. I have active field and laboratory projects focusing on North American and African mammals ranging from the early Pleistocene to the modern.

Thomas Vogel


Thomas Vogel is a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


3:30pm – Scientific Consensus

In order to make a real-world impact, a scientific discovery requires more than just overwhelming agreement among scientists in the field - it also requires effective communication to the public. How do scientists come to agree upon a scientific fact? How does the way in which this fact is communicated to the public affect how readily it is accepted by the general public? It takes more than just good science itself for a discovery to make an impact in society, and a simple misstep in science communication has the potential to stymie its societal benefits and generate misinformation. Our panel of experts will discuss the process through which scientists come to agreement, the crucial process of effective science communication to the general public, and why some people may reject scientific information and instead embrace misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Josh Cuevas


Josh Cuevas is a professor of education at UNG with a PhD in Educational Psychology. His research interests focus on the field of cognitive psychology, including topics such as learning, memory, and evidence-based reasoning. He teaches courses in educational psychology, assessment, and research methodology. His recent work has examined how subjective beliefs and the cognitive traits associated with them are related to information processing and behaviors.

Royce Dansby Sparks


Royce Dansby-Sparks is a faculty member in chemistry at the University of North Georgia.

Bryan Dawson


Bryan Dawson has a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. He is currently working on projects investigating perceptions of gender, gender and ethnic discrimination and perceptions of video games.  He routinely teaches courses related to statistics and I/O Psychology and serves as the coordinator for the interdisciplinary minor in leadership.

Abby Meyer


Abby Meyer came to UNG in August of 2015 immediately following the completion of her graduate work at the University of Memphis. She formed a precocious love of psychology and human behavior from a very young age, but later discovered her love of neuroscience and neural circuits of memory systems after surviving a harrowing car accident in 2004. Her lack of memories for this event and her subsequent neurorecovery led her to study the pathways and processes that govern memory systems. In graduate school, Dr. Meyer pursued the field of behavioral toxicology in an attempt to further discover the factors that hinder neurodevelopment, memory processes, and executive functioning. Her student-driven research lab at UNG is actively working to continue to uncover the important links between what the brain is, what factors disrupt neurodevelopment, and what the brain is capable of.
Meg Smith


Margaret Smith has a variety of research interests in evolutionary biology, but her training has focused on the evolution of developmental mechanisms. At UNG, she is currently working with a very interesting insect system which is amenable to a variety of evolutionary, ecological, and developmental questions.

She works with the wasp Copidosoma floridanum which parasitizes moth eggs, which in her lab are either Trichoplusia ni or Chrysodeixis includens eggs. She studies C. floridanium because it has very interesting development. It is facultatively polyembryonic, meaning that from a single egg, thousands of genetically identical offspring develop. It is also a eusocial insect, meaning that among the thousands of genetically identical siblings, some individuals differentiate into sterile soldiers and others differentiate into reproductive individuals. She studies how and why the development of such a complex life history strategy evolved.

Currently a group of students in her lab group are working on understanding ecological factors influencing soldier development. She has also had students work with just the hosts, T. ni and C. includens which are crop pests. Students explored management strategies for C. includens, and there are also interesting questions to explore about the evolution of pesticide resistance. I collaborate on all of this work with Dr. Erin Barding. If you’re interested in this system or these research areas, please stop by to chat!