Upcoming Events

Sigma Lectures

The Vaccine Wars

Dr. Paul Offit

September 10, 2019
(lectures start at 7:30 pm, and are free and open to the public)
Vaccines are a victim of their own success. As a consequence, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases are a yearly occurrence. Measles, which was eliminated from the United States in 2000, has now come roaring back, with children hospitalized in New York City, Detroit, and Baltimore. Dr. Offit will discuss the anti-vaccine movement from its inception to the present and offer suggestions on how we can best convince parents to do the right thing for their children.

Paul A. Offit, MD is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC; for this achievement Dr. Offit was honored by Bill and Melinda Gates during the launch of their Foundation’s Living Proof Project for global health.  Offit is also the author of eight medical narratives including Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, which was selected by Kirkus Reviews and Booklist as one of the best non-fiction books of 2011, and Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, which won the Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking from the Center for Skeptical Inquiry and was selected by National Public Radio as one of the best books of 2013.


Failure is Not an Option

Mr. Fred W. Haise

October 1, 2019

(lectures start at 7:30 pm, and are free and open to the public)

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module (SM) upon which the command module (CM) had depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to make makeshift repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17, 1970, six days after launch.  This mission was dramatized in the 1995 Hollywood movie titled “Apollo 13”.  Mr. Fred Haise flew as the Lunar Module Pilot, and he will discuss his experiences as an Apollo astronaut and Apollo 13 crew member.

Mr. Haise had a 20-year NASA career which included serving as an Aeronautics Research Pilot at Lewis Research Center in 1959, a Research Pilot at the NASA Flight Research Center in 1963, and as an Astronaut at Johnson Space Center starting in 1966.  In addition to Apollo, he flew five flights as the Commander of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977 for the Approach and Landing Test Program at Edwards Air Force Base.

In the 1950s, Mr. Haise served as a US Marine Corps Fighter Pilot, and he has logged 9,100 hours of flying time in over 80 types of aircraft.  After leaving NASA, Mr. Haise served as President of Northrop Grumman Technical Services until retiring in 1996.  He has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Kinchloe “Test Pilot of the Year” Award, the NASA Distinguished Service and Exceptional Service Medals, the Aerospace Walk of Honor, and the US Astronaut Hall of Fame.


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