Bios and Abstracts

To view paper abstracts, click on the paper titles. 

Keynote Speaker (Friday)

John Lesch: Four Turning Points in the Treatment of HIV/AIDS 

John E. Lesch is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught the history of science. His publications include The First Miracle Drugs: How the Sulfa Drugs Transformed Medicine. He is working on a history of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS. 

Keynote Speaker (Saturday)

Navid Madani:  35 years of HIV/AIDS:  A Symphony of humanity, policy, science, and health care in the fight against HIV/AIDS

Navid Madani is an Iranian-American. She obtained a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Oregon Health Sciences University where she worked on the pathogenesis of HIV-1, specifically characterizing the actions of HIV-1 viral infectivity factor. She became a fellow in Pathology at Harvard Medical School and, in 2004, became an Instructor in the department with a hospital appointment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her major focus is understanding the mechanisms of HIV-1 entry and using a multi-disciplinary approach to do that. She leads a drug discovery program collaborating with 20 investigators at ten different institutions, in addition to Harvard and MIT community researchers. Her studies have led to the biochemical characterization of two small molecules that bind HIV-1 gp120 and inhibit HIV-1 entry.  The goal of Dr. Madani and her team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School is to halt the global HIV epidemic through a two-pronged approach: biochemical and educational. The members of Dr. Madani’s team have the skills, knowledge, and facilities to make progress toward this goal.

Biochemical approach: Dr. Madani’s group uses a multidisciplinary approach to find preventive measures to inhibit HIV-1 transmission. Her collaborations extend different investigators at institutions in the United States and abroad. Her studies have led to the biochemical characterization of two small molecules that bind HIV-1 gp120 and inhibit HIV-1 entry. Currently, she is working on small-molecule HIV-1 entry inhibitors and designing different approaches to identify and characterize microbicides to inhibit HIV-1 infection. She is optimizing the application of small-molecule inhibitors of HIV-1 infection as topical microbicides. Her background in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and virology, combined with the expertise of her collaborators, will enable the design and characterization of small molecules that will advance the goal of identifying a potent, clinically useful HIV-1 inhibitor.

In addition to her scientific research, she regularly travels to the Middle East and North Africa and present seminars at various universities, with an emphasis on reproductive and public health. Her educational seminars are geared toward youth and women in the hope of advancing the understanding of reproductive health and preventive measures regarding sexually transmitted diseases. Her goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and dialogue on emerging infectious diseases in the region. She currently on the advisory board of the Network of Iranians for Knowledge and Innovation (NIKI), and previously was the chair of Global Network of Researchers on HIV/AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa (GNR-MENA). In 2006, she was a co-chair of GNR-MENA’s satellite session at International AIDS conference in Toronto. She was the organizer of an NIH-funded session at the AIDS international meeting in Vienna, in July 2010, and co-organized the First International and Fifth National HIV/AIDS conference in Tehran, Iran in October 2012. She leads scientific and health workshops in the MENA region and has given talks at the Middle East Association meetings in Washington, D.C. and Boston and hopes to use science education as a bridge to health and peace.


Friday Presentations

Terri Snyder: Suicide, Slavery, and Epidemics: A Perspective from Early Modern British America

Terri L. Snyder is Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Her research and teaching specialties include the history of gender and women, race and slavery, and the law in early North America. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, where she studied under Linda K. Kerber. Her first book, Brabbling Women: Disorderly Speech and the Law in Early Virginia (Cornell University Press, 2003; paperback and e-book editions, 2014), focuses on the experiences of women in the courts of the colonial Chesapeake. Since its publication, she has continued to write on the intersections of women, race, and the law in early America, and she has published articles on these topics in the Law and History Review (2012, winner of the best article prize from the Southern Association of Women Historians); the William and Mary Quarterly (2012); and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, ed. Jon Butler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 1-30.
 In addition to her scholarship on women and gender, Professor Snyder has also published on the history of slavery in early North America. Her article, “Suicide, Slavery, and Memory in North America,” appeared in the Journal of American History, vol. 97, no. 1 (June 2010), 39-62. She followed up with The Power to Die: Slavery and Suicide in British North America (University of Chicago Press, 2015), the first book-length study of the cultural, social, and political history of suicide by enslaved people in North America. Interviews about the book have been featured on the early American blogs "The Junto" and "The Way to Improvement Leads Home." She has received numerous grants and fellowships, including, most recently, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library (2015), an Andrew W. Mellow Fellowship at the Virginia Historical Society (2014), and a Library Company of Philadelphia Fellowship (2011). In addition, she has also been the recipient of Fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities (2007-08, 2015-16). She is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for the OAH.

Sean Morey Smith: “Their Constitutions are Much Stronger”: Medical Expertise and Slavery Debates in the Eighteenth-Century Anglophone Atlantic

Sean Morey Smith is a PhD candidate at Rice University. His dissertation research focuses on medical and scientific arguments for and against slavery in the Anglophone Atlantic between roughly 1733 and 1833. Ultimately, this research seeks to relate popular understandings of disease, slavery, and bodies to the emergence of racial science.

Ian ReadSlavery, Climate, and Disease in Brazil

Dr. Ian Read, Associate Professor of Latin American Studies and Director of International Studies, joined Soka University of America in 2009 after teaching at the University of Puget Sound and University of California, Berkeley.  He received his BA in international studies from DePaul University, MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.  At Soka University, he teaches a range of courses on the history, society, politics, and economy of Latin America and the Atlantic World.  In 2012, Stanford University Press published his book, The Hierarchies of Slavery in Santos, Brazil, 1822-1888.  Ian has also published articles on the history of the United Fruit Company, elite banking networks in Mexico, slavery and social stratification in Brazil, and health in Latin America.  In 2016-2017, he was an ACLS Burkhardt Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.  Currently, Ian is writing a history of Brazil’s “Era of Epidemics,” a six-decade period that began in 1850 when Brazilians were struck by unfamiliar, terrifying, and destructive epidemic diseases that altered the trajectory of their nation.  

James O’Neil Spady (Discussant)

Dr. Spady's research is on the history of race, power, and colonization in the United States--especially in the era of slavery and the conquest of North America. He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary.

Saturday Presentations

Alexander Bay: Shit and Disease Prevention in Modern Japan: Human Waste, Toilets and Causal Agents

Alexander R Bay is a medical historian of Japan. His first book, Beriberi and Modern Japan: The Making of a National Disease explored issues of medicine, power, and hegemony in the Japanese medical community. His second book-length project examines the story of effluent management and disease prevention in 20th-century Japan, with a focus on parasite diseases, typhoid fever, and dysentery.

Michael Weiner: Leprosy and Leprosy Control in Imperial: Japan Confinement and Criminalization

Michael Weiner is Associate Dean of Faculty, and Professor of East Asian History and International Studies at Soka University of America. Among his major publications are: The Internationalization of Japan (1992); Race and Migration in Imperial Japan (1994); Japan’s Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity (1997, 2009); Race, Ethnicity and Migration in Modern Japan (2004) and; The Pacific Basin: An Introduction (2017). He has recently been commissioned to edit a comprehensive survey of race and ethnicity in Asia, and is a “Featured Author” at Taylor & Francis, Routledge. 

Edward Lowe:  Suicide Epidemics, Neoliberal Development, and the Image of the Recalcitrant Native in Oceania

Edward D. Lowe is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Soka University of America.  His research interests concern psychological anthropology, ethnographic and comparative methods, ecocultural studies, poverty and urban studies, kinship, life-span transitions for youth and young adults, and how social, cultural, political, and economic change matters for human well-being.

Margaret Garber (Discussant)

Margaret Garber is Associate Professor of Liberal Studies at California State University, Fullerton.  She received her Ph.D. in History of Science and Science Studies from the University of California San Diego. Dr. Garber’s research is on the cultural and intellectual history of early modern science with a focus on early modern scientific societies in the Holy Roman Empire.

Lisa CrummettEducating the Masses about Metabolic Disease In Order To Change Our Current Disease Trajectory  

Lisa Crummett joined Soka University of America as an Assistant Professor of Biology in 2013. She received her BS in Biological Science from California State Fullerton, MS in Biology from California State University Fullerton, and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida. She has a background in studying evolutionary biology and microbial ecology. In recent years, she has become passionate about educating her students on the link between nutrition and metabolic disease in several of her semester courses including Human Body in a Modern World and Genetics and Evolution, as well as in learning clusters such as Fat Chance and Alternative vs. Western Medicine. In the future, she is interested in researching the gut microbiome in relation to nutrition. 

Zahra Afrasiabi: Gold Nanoparticle-Based Nanosensors for Detection of Foodborne Pathogens 

Dr. Zahra Afrasiabi, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has more than fifteen years of research experience with transition metal chemistry, nanochemistry, as well as bio-inorganic chemistry. Her research has been focused on the following federally funded projects as primary investigator: (a) The development of a nanosensor for the detection of luteinizing hormone in goats and sheep and use of magnetic beads in sensor design (b) Toxicology studies of silver nanoparticles as a pesticide; (c) incorporating nanotechnology into the curriculum of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences areas; (d) Nanosensor design for detection of E-Coli; (e) Nanosponges for removing pollutants from agricultural water.

Seiji Takaku: Conflict and Forgiveness

Seiji Takaku joined Soka University of America in 2002 as a professor of psychology. Before joining the faculty at SUA, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Minnesota State University. He received his B.A. with magna cum laude from UCLA, his M.A. from California State University, Long Beach, and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation on a cross-cultural examination of forgiveness won the Arthur H. Brayfield Dissertation Award for the ‘Most Meritorious Dissertation in Psychology' in 2000. His research interests focus on cross-cultural examinations of people's apology (and excuse)-giving behavior, interpersonal forgiveness, and various strategies involved in interpersonal/inter-group conflict resolutions. Currently, he serves as the director of Social and Behavioral Sciences Concentration and Institutional Research and Assessment Coordinator at SUA.

Robert Hamersley: Discussant

Robert Hamersley is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and the Laboratory Director at SUA. He teaches primarily within the Environmental Studies concentration and the Science and Mathematics area. His research focusses on the role of plants and microbes in the cycling of the major elements of life - carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and others - through aquatic environments, from the open ocean to wetlands.