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Earth Week guest speaker, faculty panel, to address harmful effects of synthetic chemicals
Monday, April 09, 2012

Dr. Bernard Weiss
Dr. Bernard Weiss, professor of Environmental Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Rochester.

Continuing this year’s convocation theme, “Taking Risks: Rewards and Repercussions,” SUNY Fredonia will present, “Strategic Science: Risk to the Man, Reward to Society,” Thursday, April 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. in 101 Jewett Hall. The event, which will feature a keynote speaker from the University of Rochester and a SUNY Fredonia faculty panel, will discuss toxins in local environments and their detrimental effects on children and adults. Refreshments start at 6:30 p.m.

Organizers hope the event will educate students, staff and community members on the connections between chemicals found in our everyday lives and how they impact not only our health, but our behavior.

The evening will begin with a presentation from Dr. Bernard Weiss, a professor of Environmental Medicine and Pediatrics with the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Weiss has conducted research on the effects of chemical toxicity by analyzing its effects on human behavior such as developmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Relating to the theme, the “risk” for scientists like Dr. Weiss is the negative reception their findings can receive, which might discourage them from publishing their research. The “repercussions” of scientific risk-takers, in turn, usually benefit the health of the general public and the welfare of the planet. The bravery exhibited by these individuals has brought more awareness to the dangers of chemical toxicity to society.

Dr. Weiss’ presentation will be followed by a panel discussion, with audience questions to follow. Panelists are Fredonia faculty members:

  • Dr. Melanie Pallone, Esq., criminal justice, who will address legal standards to adopt a chemical in industry, versus standards used to assess the harm to humans. She will also moderate the panel;
  • Dr. Christina Jarvis, English, who will address representations of the issue of advocacy and repercussions in contemporary environmental literature and film;
  • Dr. David Kinkela, history, who will address the interconnections of environmental politics and global health;
  • Dr. Tracy Marafiote, communication, who will address the type of implications toxics have on migrant workers. She will also bring awareness to the challenges that come with changing consumer behavior around toxic products; and
  • Dr. Sherri Mason, chemistry, who will address the potential impact of introducing pharmaceuticals and personal care products into the ecosystem.

The event is funded by the campus’ Convocation Committee and Sustainability Committee. To learn more, contact Dr. Pallone at or (716) 673-3570.

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