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Academia Hernando presents “Infectious Diseases That Changed World History”

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The impact of infectious diseases on our world and culture will be the timely topic of the next Academia Hernando presentation at 10 am on Friday, October 6, when Dr. Linda Harris-Young will present “Infectious Diseases That Changed World History” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill,

Academia Hernando is a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization providing quality instruction and learning experiences for adult students throughout Hernando County and beyond. Their goal is to inform, educate and inspire adult learners through a series of weekly lectures on a wide variety of topics.

“Infectious diseases have significantly shaped the course of the world’s history. From the plague in the 14th century to HIV/AIDS and COVID today,” read an event notice. “These diseases have changed society, politics, and culture. Throughout our lives, we have been aware of common infections such as the cold, flu, mono, hepatitis, strep and staph caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. Some are mild and not usually fatal, but many are devastating and may lead to epidemics. Many have been influenced by folklore, stigmas, prejudices, religion and superstition.”

In her presentation, Harris-Young will take a close look at the illnesses that have devastated our global landscape.

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“Dr. Harris-Young examines devastating diseases such as smallpox, plague, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza, malaria, yellow fever, and the Irish potato famine,” read the event notice. “Many caused major epidemics and deaths, influenced government policies and the outcomes of major wars, and enhanced immigration and urbanization.

Understanding these diseases helps us find out how they are transmitted, find the cause and the best treatment, make sanitary reforms and public health changes, and understand the importance of quarantine. Whether attempts to control outbreaks were successful or not, we can use this information to learn more about disease containment today.”

Dr. Linda Harris-Young began her career as a medical technologist in hospital laboratories. She was a faculty member at Jacksonville State University for ten years and Motlow
State College for 25 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of
California, and her Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Dr. Harris-Young worked as a shellfish research microbiologist for the EPA and the
FDA. She has published peer-reviewed papers in science journals, co-authored a hematology textbook, written a biology and a microbiology lab manual and served as a reader for Advanced Placement (AP) National Education Testing Service and a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation. Over her 40 years as a professor, she has taught biology, microbiology, environmental science, hematology, histology and nutrition. She has received numerous awards, including Outstanding Alumnus at UAB, Faculty Excellence Award at Motlow College three times, Professor Emeritus status in 2016, and the Scientific Aquatic Resource Preservation Award from the State of Tennessee

Other professional accomplishments include Eisenhower Science Teachers Grants, Science Discipline Coordinator, developing materials for internationalizing microbiology curriculum at Motlow and co-authoring Motlow’s pandemic plan for a possible avian flu pandemic. She performed in ten Motlow theater productions and organized a regional environmental conference and a bioterrorism forum in the aftermath of the anthrax scare.

Dr. Harris-Young served on the boards of several community organizations in Tennessee, including the Board of Directors of the Hands-on Science Center, the Coffee County Health Council, the Friends of Elk River and the Middle Tennessee HIV Prevention Committee. She has been an invited speaker at numerous community organizations, including the Rotary Club, Agriculture Extension, Hospice, Sigma Xi, Trout Unlimited and Leadership Lincoln County. Since retiring five years ago, she and her husband have moved to Weeki Wachee. She has taught biology and microbiology at PHSC and volunteers at Weeki Wachee State Park.

“Devastating outbreaks of infectious diseases have changed the history of the world through fears explained by superstition, folklore and prejudice,” said Harris-Young. “This has led to many deaths, immigration and the outcomes of war and politics.”

Sharon Printz, a board member of Academia Hernando, is looking forward to welcoming this popular presenter—also Academia Hernando’s newest board member, handling marketing—to the Academia stage.

“Linda Harris-Young is such a knowledgeable speaker,” she said. “And she is the type of speaker that even makes a topic such as infectious diseases entertaining.”

“Infectious Diseases That Changed World History” is the fourth presentation of the Fall 2023 series of Academia Hernando, which features a brilliant spectrum of topics delivered by the experts who know them best.

Academia Hernando presentations begin promptly at 10 a.m. and last two hours with a 15-minute intermission. To register for the entire lecture series in addition to a Nov. 10 mystery bus trip, print the registration form found at https://www.academiahernando.org/fall-series and mail it with your check for $80 payable to Academia Hernando Inc. to:
Bev Nuzzi
15027 Middle Fairway Drive
Brooksville, FL 34609

Checks can also be brought to an Academia Hernando presentation; in addition, walk-in admissions are available for $15 per presentation. Visit https://www.academiahernando.org/ for more information, or call (352) 345-8345.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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