Coronavirus Conversations
Coronavirus Conversations Hosted by Science & Society

Coronavirus Conversations

Coronavirus Conversations draw together experts from various fields to discuss the vast societal implications of the pandemic, how the situation is developing, and how we should plan for the future. Join Our Mailing List

Coronavirus Conversations

A virtual event series from Duke Science & Society

The global pandemic affects every corner of society and brings into focus new and existing ethical and policy issues. Over the course of this event series notable scientists, doctors, bioethicists, researchers, and other policy experts will convene to discuss specific themes as they relate to the Coronavirus and how the U.S. and the world continues to respond.

This virtual event series is open to the public.
Press covering the coronavirus outbreak are welcome to attend.

Browse Past Conversations View All Event Recordings



Past Events

Coronavirus Conversations – Lessons Learned: Contact Tracing at Duke, in North Carolina, and Beyond.

Thursday, April 8, 2021, Noon E.T.

As we approach our fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, we have long since given up hope of containing the virus through shut downs, quarantining, and contact tracing. Still, local, national and foreign governments mounted multiple efforts—both traditional and tech-based—to engage in contact tracing, from which we can gather important lessons for the next pandemic. This past year, a team of Duke faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates has been researching and gathering data on how these efforts have gone.

Join Duke Science & Society and representatives of the 2020-21 Bass Connections team examining Covid-19 contact tracing, in a discussion of what we have learned from the last year of contact tracing efforts, in Durham, North Carolina, and beyond.

Event Recording

Coronavirus Conversations: Restoring Faith in Public Science Agencies

Friday, December 18, 2020 at noon
As the numbers of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths mount, we nonetheless have reason to be optimistic.  Two promising vaccines, developed at record speed using cutting-edge technology, are set to be delivered to our first responders and most vulnerable citizens. A new administration will take office in January, and has promised to elevate science and science-driven policy. But the pandemic is far from over. We must treat the sick, bring infection rates under control, and successfully distribute the vaccine to most of the American public. All of this depends on rebuilding the faith of ordinary Americans in the doctors, scientists, and scientific agencies who should rightfully be leading us through this perilous time.

Join Duke Science & Society and our honored guests, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Alan Alda, in a discussion of how to restore the faith of the American people in science and the scientific agencies—what we must do now, and in the months ahead, to rebuild their trust in these essential actors and institutions.

Co-Sponsored by the Duke Global Health Institute, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, the Duke Law Center for Innovation Policy, the Duke Rhodes Information Initiative, the Duke Energy Initiative, the Georgetown Law O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health, the Harvard Petrie-Flom Center for Bioethics, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Stanford Law Center for Law and the Biosciences, and the Yale School of Public Health.



Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.: Director of NIAID, National Institutes of Health; Chief Medical Adviser, President-Elect Biden

Alan Alda: Six-time Emmy and Golden Globe Winning Actor; Inventor of The Alda Method®; Founder and Visting Professor, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University


Hank Greely, J.D.: Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor, Stanford Law School; Director, Center for Law and the Biosciences; Director, Stanford Program in Neuroscience and Society; Chair, Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics


Nita Farahany, J.D., Ph.D.;: Director, Duke Initiative for Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University


Event Recording


Coronavirus Conversations: On The Ground: Inside the COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Thursday, November 5th, 4:00 PM (EST)

Co-hosted with the Duke Law Center for Innovation Policy, the Duke Global Health Institute, the Georgetown Law O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health, the Harvard Petrie-Flom Center for Bioethics, the Stanford Law Center for Law and the Biosciences, the UNC HIV Cure Center, and the Yale School of Public Health.

Ten months into the pandemic, we are making rapid progress toward developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, with several vaccines in Phase 3 trials in the US alone.  Despite this remarkable speed, concerned citizens and members of the medical and public health communities naturally have questions: What does it mean about overall safety and effectiveness that some projects have been paused to ensure the safety and health of vaccine trial participants? Who has been included in the trial process, and how representative are they of our society? When the first vaccines are found to be safe and effective, how effective can we expect them to be, based on current indications?

Join Duke Science & Society and our guests, who are overseeing COVID-19 vaccine trials for Moderna and Pfizer, in a discussion of how the COVID-19 vaccine trials are progressing in the U.S., what current indications are about their safety and efficacy, and when we can expect initial approvals for early or limited use.


Cindy Gay, M.D., M.P.H.; Principal Investigator, University of North Carolina site of the Moderna SARS-COV-2 vaccine trial, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases; Medical Director, UNC HIV Cure Center

Emmanuel (Chip) Walter, M.D.; Principal Investigator, Duke University site of the Pfizer SARS-COV-2 vaccine trial, Professor of Pediatrics, Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute, Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute


Nita Farahany, J.D., Ph.D.; Duke University; Director, Duke Initiative For Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University


Event Recording


Coronavirus Conversations: COVID In U.S. Prisons and Jails

Friday, October 16th, 12:30 PM (EDT)

Co-Hosted with the Harvard Petrie-Flom Center For Bioethics, the Stanford Law School Center for Law and the Biosciences, The Marshall Project, the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law, and the Yale School of Public Health.

Congregate living spaces, and especially jails and prisons, have become COVID-19 hotspots due to ease of transmission and a lack of options for social distancing or quarantining.  In our nation’s jails and prisons, inmates have little freedom of movement, often lack access to adequate hygiene and healthcare facilities, and may be unable to isolate if infected.

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts in a discussion of how COVID-19 has spread through jails and prisons, how that is affecting not only inmates but also surrounding communities, what corrections officials are—and are not—doing to address COVID-19, and what should be done to improve health outcomes for and control the spread of COVID-19 among this often forgotten population.


Joseph Neff; Staff Writer, The Marshall Project

Maria Morris, J.D.; Senior Staff Attorney, National Prison Project, ACLU

Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Social Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill


Brandon L. Garrett, J.D.; L. Neil Williams, Jr. Professor of Law, Duke Law School


Event Recording


Coronavirus Conversations: Emergency Use Authorization, Public Trust, and Vaccines

Wednesday, October 7th, 4:00 PM (EDT)

Co-Hosted with the Duke Center for Innovation Policy, the Duke Global Health Institute, the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Duke University School of Law, the Georgetown O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law, the Harvard Petrie-Flom Center For Bioethics, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute for Bioethics, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Stanford Law School Center for Law and the Biosciences, and the Yale School of Public Health.

Nine months in, the race to create a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine is beginning to bear fruit.  Several Phase 3 clinical trials are underway, and political pressure is mounting to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year. The only way to meet this deadline would be for the FDA to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for one of these vaccines. Observers are concerned, however, that an EUA-authorized vaccine may not be both safe and effective, and worry about the impact of a premature authorization on public trust in the FDA, any COVID vaccine issued this way, and even subsequent COVID vaccines.

Join Duke Science & Society and our esteemed panel of experts, including former FDA Commissioner, Rob Califf, and Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Eric Topol, for a timely discussion of the suitability of the EUA process for a COVID vaccine, and the safety and efficacy that we can expect from vaccines authorized on an accelerated timeframe.

Dr. Robert M Califf; Former FDA Commissioner (2016-2017), Donald F. Fortin, M.D. Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Eric Topol; Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and Executive Vice President, Scripps Research Institute

Arti K Rai, J.D.; Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law and Faculty Director, The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law


Event Recording


Impact of COVID on Black Americans & Other People of Color

Friday, September 11, 2:00 PM (EDT)

Co-Hosted with the Duke Center for Science and JusticeThe Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity,The Duke Center on Law, Race and Politics, and the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy

Across the country, the toll of the COVID pandemic on black and brown people has been devastating, as a disproportionate number of them are sickened, seriously injured, and killed by the virus. Conditions in the places where black and brown people tend to live, learn and work; their relative socio-economic status; the cumulative effects of racism on black and brown people (otherwise known  as “weathering”); and other factors have directly contributed to this catastrophe.

Join Duke Science & Society and our a panel of experts in an important discussion of why the COVID pandemic has been so calamitous for black and brown people, and what policy solutions are called for to improve the social determinants of health for their communities now and into the future.

This talk is the second in a series of Coronavirus Conversations on the intersection of race and COVID, following our August 27th  Conversation on Racial Bias in the Healthcare System & COVID Outcomes.


Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, Ph.D; Associate Director Of Research, Director of Health Equity Working Group at DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity

Jay A. Pearson, M.P.H, Ph.D; Assistant Professor, Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy


Thomas Williams, J.D, Law and Biosciences Fellow, Duke Initiative for Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Safe(r) Sex: Dating, Relationships, and Intimacy During the Pandemic

Wednesday, September 2, 2:00 PM (EDT)

Even amid social distancing, people continue to seek out new relationships. But romantic relationships are inherently in-person activities, raising many questions about what dating and sex can or should look like during the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the ethical and health risks to dating now, how are virtual options standing in, and how are people balancing the potential risks with the mental and emotional health benefits of being in a relationship?

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts as they discuss the science behind risk assessment, the changing trends in dating, and the ethics of dating while under a pandemic—and their recommendations for how to safely seek out relationships over the near future.

Dr. Laurence Steinberg: Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Temple University

Dr. Catalina Toma, Ph.D.: Associate Professor of Communication Science, UW-Madison


Lindsey Parker, M.P.H.: Student Development Coordinator, DuWell, Duke University

Event Recording & Details


Racial Bias in the Healthcare System & COVID Outcomes

Thursday, August 27, 4:00 PM (EDT)

Co-Hosted with the Duke Center for Science and Justice, The Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity, and The Duke Center on Law, Race, and Politics.

Systemic and individual racial bias in the US healthcare system is well documented, resulting in disparate outcomes for treatment of the same disease.  This raises the concern that members of the Black community and other people of color may not receive the same level of care as white patients once they contract COVID-19, and attempt to get seen by doctors, tested, and treated.

Join Duke Science & Society and our a panel of experts in a discussion of the extent to which implicit, explicit, structural, and systemic racial biases in healthcare result in poorer outcomes for Black COVID-19 patients, and other people of color—and what to do to correct for those disparate outcomes.


Khiara M. Bridges, P.h.D, J.D,  Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law

Daniela Lamas, M.D. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist

Sylvia Perry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University


Thomas Williams, J.D, Law and Biosciences Fellow, Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Event Recording & Details


The Science and Ethics of Human Challenge Trials For COVID-19

Monday, August 24, 4:00 PM (EDT)

Co-Hosted with The Duke Center On Risk and The Petrie-Flom Center For Bioethics at Harvard University

Human challenge trials for COVID-19 offer an opportunity to speed the development of treatments and vaccines that can help tame the pandemic. But they are risky for participants, and pose thorny ethical questions. Even with willing volunteers, the scientific and medical communities must carefully weigh the risks before launching any human challenge trials, and put strong ethical safeguards in place.

Join Duke Science & Society, The Duke Center On Risk, and Harvard Petrie-Flom Center For Bioethics and our panel of experts in a discussion of the science, promise, and risks of human challenge trials, how they might play a role in bringing an end to the coronavirus pandemic, and how to legally and ethically do so.

Panelists :

Dr. Marc Lipsitch, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology & Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease; Director, Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics

Dr. Nir Eyal, Rutgers University, Henry Rutgers Professor of Bioethics; Director of The Center for Population-Level Bioethics (CPLB); Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, Infectious Disease Specialist, Associate Professor of Medicine; Clinical Expert In Respiratory and Infectious Disease, Duke Medical School


Kim Krawiec, J.D. Duke University School of Law, Kathrine Robinson Everett Professor of Law

Event Recording & Details


Ethics of the Use of Wearables For Early Covid Detection

Thursday, August 20, 4:00 PM (EDT)
Co-hosted with Duke+Data Science and the Petrie-Flom Center For Bioethics at Harvard University

Wearable technology provides us with a rich data set that can enhance our understanding of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the use of this data must come with ethical guard rails, which are easy to rush past in the attempt to tame the pandemic.

Join Duke+DataScience and Duke Science & Society and our panel of technical and ethical experts to discuss the ethics of using data generated by wearable technology to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dr. Jessilyn Dunn, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology; Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Dr. Marielle S. Gross, M.D., M.B.E., Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences


Dr. Nita Farahany, J.D., Ph.D., Duke University; Director, Duke Initiative For Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University

Event Recording & Details


Ethics of AI and Image Analysis in COVID-19 Treatment

Thursday July 30, 4:00 PM (EDT)

Hosted by Duke Science & Society and Duke +Data Science<

Medical image analysis with machine learning holds immense promise for accelerating the radiology workflow and benefiting patient care for COVID-19. Given the level of training and work involved in manually inspecting chest CT scans, there is significant interest in developing machine learning models that can automatically interpret chest CT images, including for COVID-19 patients.  However, the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in radiological imaging is relatively new, and codes of ethics and practice for use of AI in imaging are just now being contemplated by the medical community. This means that, in the effort to use AI to process radiological images for COVID-19 patients, decisions about how to acquire and curate the data and train the algorithms must be made in real time.

Join Duke+ DataScience and Duke Science & Society and our panel of technical and ethical experts to discuss the ethics of using machine learning and AI to process radiological images for COVID-19 patients.

Panelists :

Dr. Timothy Dunn, Ph.D., Neurobiology, Harvard University; B.A. Molecular And Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley; Postdoctoral Associate Department of Statistical Science; Duke Forge Scholar

Dr. Raymond Geis, Senior Scientist, American College of Radiology Data Service Institute; Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiology, National Jewish Heath, Denver, CO

Rachel Draelos, M.D., Ph.D Candidate Duke Medical Scientist Program, Duke University School Of Medicine; Ph.D Candidate, Duke University Department of Computer Science


Dr. Nita Farahany, J.D., PhD, Duke University; Director, Duke Initiative For Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy

Event Recording & Details


Return to Work: Protecting Workers’ Health During a Pandemic

Thursday July 9, 2:30 PM (EDT)

Co-hosted by The Duke Global Health Institute, The Center for Innovation Policy At Duke Law School,and The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School

Across the US, employers are taking steps to bring non-essential employees back into the workplace after shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is easier said than done, as employers encounter logistical hurdles in planning a safe return to work, and coronavirus infection rates spike around the country. To enable a successful return to work, employers must proceed based on the science of how the virus spreads in different work environments, using policies, practices, and procedures carefully crafted to protect worker safety.

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts in a discussion on the risks of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace, how best to protect employee health, and how to balance worker safety against personal freedoms.

Panelists :

Ms. Jessica E. Martinez, M.P.H.: Co-Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health; former member, National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

Dr. Nicole Bouvier, M.D.: Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine

Sharon Block, J.D.: Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School; former head, Policy Office at the U.S. Department of Labor; former Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor


Brian Langloss, Ph.D.: Lead Policy Analyst, Duke Initiative for Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Perfect Storms: Responding to Hurricanes While Addressing Covid-19

Wednesday, July 1, 2:30 PM

As the US approaches the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, multiple long-term forecasts have predicted an unusually high number of hurricanes. If a hurricane strikes the US, actions taken in preparation and response will have to take COVID-19 into account. Local, state, and federal governments, as well as NGOs and individuals, must plan now for how to adequately respond to the potential for the impact of a major hurricane while also minimizing risks from COVID-19—especially for vulnerable populations who are most at risk both from COVID-19 and the effects of a landfalling hurricane.

Panelists :

Dr. Mark Abkowitz, Ph.D.,M.S., B.S., Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor of Civil and Environmental EngineeringProfessor of Engineering Management, Director, Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Elizabeth Albright, D.R., Duke University, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Environmental Science and Policy Methods, Chair, Environmental Economics & Policy Program, Nicholas School Of The Environment, Duke University

Lauren M. Sauer, M.S., Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical School; Director of Operations, John Hopkins Office Of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR)


Andrew Pericak, M.E.M, Senior Research Analyst, Duke Initiative For Science & Society

Event Recording & Details Read the Policy Brief


Conducting Elections During The Pandemic

Friday, June 26, 2:30 PM

COVID-19 presents major challenges for the US election process. Measures necessary to protect the public and prevent the spread of the virus, like shelter-in-place orders, quarantine and self-isolation, and fear of infection will keep many Americans away from polling places in the fall. In-person voters must navigate lines and indoor voting locations that traditionally place people in close proximity, and interact with high-touch surfaces, to exercise their right to vote. Poll workers, who are traditionally older and therefore more at risk, are now in short supply. The act of voting itself has the ability to spark new rounds of contagion. Constructive policy solutions are needed to protect public health and the right to vote, especially for members of minority and lower socio-economic groups, who have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Panelists :

Professor Guy-Uriel Charles, J.D. Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law, Duke University School Of Law

Dr. Anupam B. Jena, M.D, Ph.D. Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Martha E. Kropf, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration; Professor Public Policy Program, UNC-Charlotte


Dr. Nita Farahany, J.D., PhD, Director, Duke Initiative For Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University

Event Recording & Details Read the Policy Brief


Behind COVID-19: The Disease, The Effects, And The Treatments

Friday, June 5, 12:30 PM

If you read the news about COVID-19 enough you may start to get confused about what exactly the disease is. What are the symptoms? What is the difference between mild and severe cases? What happens to the body when COVID-19 develops? What are the the treatments and are they effective? It can be difficult to know what information is accurate as more disinformation from bad actors takes hold of social media.

Join Duke Science & Society Director Nita Farahany as she talks with Dr. Cameron Wolfe – an infections disease specialist and leader of the Duke Remdesivir trial – as we demystify COVID-19 and learn about the disease causing global panic.

Panelists :

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, MBBS, Associate Professor of Medicine; Clinical Expert In Respiratory and Infectious Disease, Duke University

Dr. Nita Farahany, J.D., PhD, Director, Duke Initiative For Science & Society; Professor of Law and Philosophy, Duke University

Event Recording & Details


How The Electric Power Sector is Weathering The Pandemic

Co-Hosted by: The Nicholas Institute For Environmental Policy Solutions and The Duke University Energy Initiative

Monday. June 1, 12:30 PM

The electric power sector is facing major operational challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Traditional fossil-fuel fired electric power plants have taken extraordinary steps to maintain staff availability in the shadow of contagion. Still, in late March, the EPA suspended enforcement of much of its air and water discharge requirements for electric power facilities unable to comply due to COVID-19-related staffing concerns. At the same time, distributed energy saw over 15% of its workforce furloughed, and new installations slowed or stopped, due to stay-at-home orders.

Join Duke Science & Society and a panel of Duke University and industry experts as they discuss how the electric power sector is weathering these challenges—and what the impact might be for the energy transition.

Hosted by The Duke University Initiative for Science and Society, The Duke University Energy Initiative, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


Jennifer Chen, J.D; PHD, Senior Counsel, Federal Energy Policy at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Michael D Smith, J.D., Senior Vice President, Distributed Energy, Constellation

Bryan Walsh, Vice President, Central Services And Organizational Effectiveness for Fossil Hydro Operations, Duke Energy


Sarah Rispin, J.D., Duke Science & Society Instructor, Lead – Energy

Event Recording & Details


The COVID-19 Pandemic Narrative – What Stories Do We Tell?

This event is co-hosted by the Duke Center on Risk.

Thursday, May 28, 12:30 PM

How society talks about an infectious disease has serious consequences. The so-called “outbreak narrative” of a particular contagion will affect exposure pathways, infection rates, mitigation options, and economic impacts. It can also lead to the stigmatization of particular individuals, groups, locales, behaviors, or lifestyles. How should we understand the level of concern and captivation elicited by the coronavirus as reflected in government decisions, public messaging, and social and mainstream media? Have these responses been commensurate with the actual risks? Has the narrative around coronavirus followed a storyline similar to past contagions?  How has culture, including popular science, fiction, and film affected the public’s perception of the current situation? What is the basis for the many conspiracy theories and “alternative facts” that have emerged? Our panel seeks to explore how the stories we tell about this virus and its risks are at the root of how we are all living our lives at the moment.

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts to discuss how we tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic and why the language we use and the stories we tell matter.

Panelists :

Dr. Christopher Cummings, Senior Research Fellow at NCSU, Founding Director of Decision Analytica, LLC

Dr. Brian Southwell, Senior Director of The Science in the Public Sphere Program in the Center For Communication Science at RTI International

Dr. Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English, Duke University


Dr. Mark Borsuk, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-Director, Duke Center on Risk, Duke University


Event Recording & Details


Surviving & Thriving As A STEM Graduate Student During The Pandemic

Co-hosted by The Duke University Graduate School.

Friday. May 22, 1:00 PM

Being a graduate student in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) discipline is always challenging and stressful.  How do the stresses and challenges increase during a pandemic, when students abruptly find themselves unable to go into their lab or do their field work?  How can graduate students adapt to these additional challenges, and what can advisors and graduate schools do to support them during these challenging times?  Are new opportunities for STEM graduate students arising during the pandemic, and if so, how can grad students take advantage of these opportunities?

Join Duke Science & Society as we discuss the unique challenges of STEM graduate school work during a global pandemic.

Panelists :

Alexandra Kralick, 4th-year PhD student Biological Anthropology, University. of Pennsylvania.  She studies human evolution and Tweets @BioAnthFunFacts

Susanna Harris. PhD, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Microbiology. While in grad school she started PhD Balance ( to support/promote mental health and well being for grad students.  She Tweets @SusannaLHarris

Melissa Bostrom, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development in The Graduate School at Duke University, Director, Duke Graduate School Emerging Leader Institute and Professional Development Series


Jory Weintraub, Ph.D. Science Communication Program Director, Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke Initiative for Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Immigration and The Pandemic

Co-Sponsored by The Duke University School Of Law.

Wednesday, May 12, 12:30 PM

As the current coronavirus pandemic continues to spread through multiple, interconnected societies, U.S. immigration policy has become both a political and epidemiological question. Immigrant detention, asylum, and labor policies are now critical matters of public health as cases of COVID-19 accelerate in relation to immigration enforcement and low-wage employment. Additionally, the pandemic is taking place in a national context in which contemporary health, welfare, and immigration reforms increasingly exclude noncitizens. What does this policy environment mean for global efforts to contain the pandemic, and how might the U.S. best adapt its immigration approach to prioritize public health during this moment of crisis?

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts to discuss how U.S. immigration policies relate to the coronavirus pandemic, the specific risks immigrants and immigrant communities may be facing during this time, and what kinds of policy changes may be necessary to reduce its public health impact.

Panelists :

Kate Evans, J.D. Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Duke University

Sabrineh Ardalan, J.D. Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, Harvard University

Salvador G. Sarmiento, National Campaign Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)


Meredith Van Natta, Ph.D. Medical Sociologist and Postdoctoral Associate at the Science, Law & Policy (SLAP) Lab, Duke University


Event Recording & Details


Coronavirus & Mental Health

Coping Through The Pandemic

Friday, May 8, 2:00 PM

Vulnerable populations are hit particularly hard by public emergencies, and with many people out of work, stuck at home, and fearful of infection, the unaddressed mental health needs in our country are rising to the surface. In tandem with that rise people are struggling to get care for existing mental health concerns as clinicians and non-profits are stretched thin trying to provide for their patients and communities while also trying to stay healthy and safe themselves. As the lockdown continues and the economic fallout from the pandemic worsens, these problems will only become worse.

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts to discuss what the mental health care landscape looks like right now, what we can be doing right now to improve mental health care outcomes, and how we prepare for the growth in cases we may see after we return to a “new normal.”

Panelists :

Clara S Kelly, MSW, Outreach Coordinator, NAMI-NYC

Louise Newton, MSW, LCSW, SEP, Director of Clinical Psychotherapy, Mind Path Care Centers


Benjamin Shepard, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications, Duke Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Coronavirus And The Wealth Gap

Pandemics And Poverty

Co-Sponsored by The Sanford School of Public Policy

Wednesday, May 6, 12:30 PM

Communities of color, immigrant communities, and low-income communities often feel the negative effects of societal crises’ more acutely than the rest of society and Coronavirus has been no exception. Many low-income people in the United States do not have the ability to stay at home and many work in positions that may make it difficult or impossible to social distance. Additionally, lack of access to healthcare before the pandemic makes it more likely that these communities have comorbidities that put them at greater risk for infection and serious complications.

Join Duke Science & Society and our panel of experts to discuss what is being done to help underserved communities, what policy decisions have led to this problem, and what choices we need to make after the pandemic to protect the most at-risk populations.

Read The Kaiser Family Foundation white paper on the subject: Higher COVID-19 Incidence in Minority Communities 

Panelists :

Dr. Anna Gassman-Pines, P.H.D., Associate Professor, Sanford School for Public Policy

David Anderson, Research Associate, Margolis Center For Health Policy


Thomas Wilson Williams, J.D., Lecturing Fellow, Duke Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Are We Doing Enough? Federal & International Response

This event is being co-sponsored by the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.

Friday, May 1, 12:30 PM

For the past several months, we have watched the response to the Coronavirus around the world. Shut downs and stay-at-home orders are the new normal for much of the world as the international community struggles to defeat the pandemic. As politicians across the world begin to discuss re-opening the shuttered global economy, experts continue to warn that we must take the re-opening of society slowly. Join Duke Science & Society, and our expert panel, to discuss the response to the Coronavirus pandemic at a federal and international level. What countries have been the most effective at keeping the spread of the virus in check? What countries are not doing enough? What is being done by NGO’s, charities, and other international groups to fight the pandemic? What is the right approach to resuming normal life? What will our new “normal life” look like?


Dr. Gavin Yamey, Associate Director for Policy, Duke Global Health Institute

Asher Hildebrand, Associate Professor of the Practice, Sanford School of Public Policy


Dr. Nita Farahany, Director, Duke Science & Society, Professor of Law and Philosophy


Event Recording & Details


Duke In Durham: A Coordinated Pandemic Response

Friday April 24, 12:00 PM

City governments are fighting on the frontline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. As local businesses shut down and greater numbers of people are in need of public assistance, cities and states are moving fast to figure out how to support their citizens in this difficult time. Local government officials are working to find the difficult balance between social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and planning to help local economies recover once the pandemic ends. Likewise, institutions of higher education are struggling to balance the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students, with the need to provide educational instruction, vital research, and healthcare services. How have these local institutions worked together to ensure a coordinated response to the Coronavirus pandemic?

Panelists :

Jillian Johnson, Mayor Pro Tempore of Durham

Michael J. Schoenfeld, Vice President, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Duke University


Dr. Nita Farahany, Director, Duke Science & Society, Professor of Law and Philosophy


Event Recording & Details


Coronavirus And The Military

Monday, April 20, 12:30 PM

Recent reports have highlighted the unique challenges the pandemic poses for our nation’s military. News of infections on U.S. Navy ships and of a VA Healthcare System stretched even thinner raise concern for those in service to our country. How are military leaders protecting and supporting military personnel, veterans, and their families while preserving the readiness of the United States Armed Forces? How do their decisions differ from those made for civilians?

Join Duke Science & Society and our expert panel as we discuss the effect of the current global public health crisis on military readiness, veterans healthcare, and military families.

Panelists :

General Martin Dempsey, Former Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Rubenstein Fellow, Duke University

Charles Dunlap Jr, Major General, Professor of the Practice of Law, Duke Law School

Buz Waitzkin, Deputy Director, Duke Science & Society


Event Recording & Details


Beauty In Crisis: Art During And After The Pandemic

Thursday, April 16, 12:30 PM

With social distancing and stay-at-home orders closing public places in many countries people across the globe can now longer enjoy art museums, galleries, symphonies, live theatre, and many other arts institutions. Artists and arts organizations continue to struggle to virtualize their programs both to provide art to the public and to stay financially viable in order to resume their work after the pandemic has ended. At the same time, people stuck at home crave the opportunity to enjoy art in order to soothe and comfort them in these trying times. Join Duke Science and Society as we discuss with artists and scholars the importance of art during this time of societal upheaval, what we can learn from history about art created during times of crisis, and what art will look like after the pandemic.


Event Recording & Details


Rationing, Shortages, and Triage: Pandemics and Medical Decision Making

Monday, April 13, 12:30 PM

As updates pour in from the hardest hit areas in New York, Detroit, and across Europe the news is filled with stories of respirator shortages, inadequate PPE, and a coming peak that will stretch medical resources even further. In times like these doctors, nurses, and administrators are being forced to make tough decisions. When supplies run out, medical personnel must make difficult decisions to decide who will receive what treatment and how that treatment should be rationed. In the next installment of our Coronavirus Conversations we will be discussing these critical care decisions and how tough choices are being made everyday in hospitals everywhere.


Event Recording & Details


Science Communication in the Time of Coronavirus

Friday, April 10, 1:00 PM

During an unprecedented time, when virtually all science communication seems to be focusing on the Coronavirus pandemic and lives literally hang in the balance, effective science communication is more important than ever. What sources should you trust? How much of the current information is accurate and being effectively communicated? How can scientists and science communicators ensure that “good” science is communicated, while combating the spread of “bad” information? Why does public trust of expertise seem to be so severely challenged right now? What roles do social media play? Join us for a discussion with a panel of renowned experts in science journalism, science writing and science communication research, who will answer these questions and others you have about science communication in the time of Coronavirus.


Event Recording & Details


Information Sharing During An Epidemic

Thursday, April 2, 12:30 PM

As the world struggles to contain the economic, political, social, and health impacts of the COVID-19 virus, it is also wrestling with how both online censorship and the open internet have helped the spread of the virus. Social media and other digital platforms provide critical opportunities outside of official channels to share accurate information about emerging diseases. However, these online platforms have also facilitated the spread of misleading information about the coronavirus. While international health authorities, governments and social media companies are engaged in efforts to combat it, they are struggling to keep up.

Read more about digital epidemiology in this interview with Roll Call.

Event Recording & Details Read the Policy Brief