Campus News

Signature Lecture Series draws prominent speakers to campus

(Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Internationally renowned scientists, preeminent philosophers and poets and influential leaders in government, higher education and several other fields will visit the University of Georgia this semester as part of the Signature Lecture Series. Speakers include two Nobel Prize-winning scientists, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and an acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

“The University of Georgia is honored to welcome these distinguished scholars, researchers and leaders to campus to share their insights with our students, staff and faculty,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The Signature Lecture Series enriches our campus community by highlighting a wide range of disciplines and perspectives.”

Signature Lectures feature campus talks by speakers with broad, multidisciplinary appeal and compelling bodies of work. Many of the lectures are supported by endowments, while others honor notable figures and milestones in the university’s history. All Signature Lectures are free and open to the public, and students are encouraged to attend. Capacity is limited for some lectures, with registration required.

For more information and the most recent updates regarding locations and formats for Signature Lectures, see

The spring 2024 Signature Lectures are:

Yvette Daniels, director of university relations, Georgia Department of Public Health

24th Annual Mary Frances Early Lecture

Feb. 6, 2 p.m., University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, Mahler Hall

Yvette Daniels serves as director of university relations for the Georgia Department of Public Health. In this role, she leads efforts to establish effective college and university relationships through the promotion of public health programs at the state and local level. Known for her passion for policy, mentorship and relationship-building, Daniels (J.D. ’89) recently completed her term as the 77th president of the University of Georgia Alumni Association Board of Directors in summer 2023. She was the first Black woman president of the organization.

Sponsored by The Graduate School, Graduate and Professional Scholars, Mary Frances Early College of Education and the Office of Institutional Diversity

Kai Chan, professor and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia

Eugene P. Odum Lecture Series in Ecology

Feb. 20, 4 p.m., Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Room 100

Kai Chan is a sustainability scientist whose work straddles social and natural systems with a focus on values, rewilding and transformative change. A professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, Chan leads CHANS lab, where inspiring students study connected human and natural systems. He is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, a former coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Global Assessment, a lead editor for the new journal People and Nature, a member of Canada’s Clean16 for 2020, a TEDx speaker and co-founder of CoSphere, a Community of Small-Planet Heroes.

Sponsored by the Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology

Helene Gayle, president, Spelman College

Holmes-Hunter Lecture

Feb. 27, 2 p.m., University Chapel

Helene Gayle began her tenure as president of Spelman College on July 1, 2022. Previously, she served for five years as president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. For nearly a decade, Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. She spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She serves on several nonprofit boards, and President Joe Biden appointed her to serve as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States.

Gayle will engage in a fireside chat with Charlayne Hunter-Gault during the annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture, covering a variety of topics and conversation.

Sponsored by the Office of the President

Nicole King, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of genetics, genomics, and development, University of California, Berkeley

Hope T.M. Ritter Lecture in Cellular Biology

March 12, 4 p.m., Biological Sciences Building, Room 404E

Nicole King is a celebrated biologist and National Academy of Sciences member who studies choanoflagellates to understand the genetic and developmental foundations behind the rise of multicellularity in animals. She received her B.S. in biology from Indiana University and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. In 2000, she began studying choanoflagellates as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She started her lab at the University of California, Berkeley in 2003, where she is a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is interested in gaining mechanistic insights into the origin of animals.

Sponsored by the Department of Cellular Biology

A.E. Stallings, Oxford Professor of Poetry, University of Oxford

Kick-off lecture, University of Georgia Humanities Festival

March 12, 6 p.m., University Chapel
A.E. Stallings is an American poet who studied classics at UGA and at the University of Oxford, where she now holds the prestigious title of Oxford Professor of Poetry. She has published four collections of poetry: “Archaic Smile,” “Hapax,” “Olives” and most recently, “Like,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has published three verse translations, Lucretius’ “The Nature of Things,” Hesiod’s “Works and Days,” and an illustrated “The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice.” Stallings was elected Oxford Professor of Poetry in June 2023.

Sponsored by the Department of Classics, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the UGA Humanities Council

Kate Manne, associate professor of philosophy, Cornell University

Women’s History Month Lecture

March 13, 4:30 p.m., Miller Learning Center, Room 248

Preeminent feminist philosopher and social critic Kate Manne will present a talk on “The Authority of Hunger,” drawing from her recently published book “Unshrinking: How to Face Down Fatphobia.” An associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University, speaker and author, Manne’s work is primarily in feminist, moral and social philosophy. Her first book, “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny,” came out in 2017. Her second book, “Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women,” was released in August 2020. “Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia” is her third book. Manne regularly writes opinion pieces, essays and reviews on moral and political topics in venues including The New York Times, The Boston Review, the Huffington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Times Literary Supplement.

Sponsored by the Institute for Women’s Studies, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the Department of Philosophy

J. Michael Kosterlitz, Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics, Brown University

Chhabra-Landau Lecture

March 14, 3:55 p.m., Physics Building, Room 202

Born in Scotland and educated at the University of Cambridge, J. Michael Kosterlitz is the Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics at Brown University, where his research focuses on theoretical condensed matter physics. In 2016 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in using topology to explain phase transitions (now known as Kosterlitz-Thouless transitions) in two-dimensional materials. In 2017 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sponsored by the Center for Simulational Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Christopher A. Wray, director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Getzen Lecture on Government Accountability

March 19, 1:30 p.m., University Chapel

Christopher Wray became the eighth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Aug. 2, 2017. Prior to his appointment, Wray held several roles in the Department of Justice, including serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, as principal associate deputy attorney general, and as assistant attorney general for DOJ’s Criminal Division, which included counterterrorism investigations at the time. He also spent many years in private practice focusing on government investigations and white-collar crime. He is the recipient of the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Department of Justice’s highest award for leadership and public service.

Sponsored by the School of Public and International Affairs

Eric Betzig, professor of molecular and cell biology and Eugene D. Commins Presidential Chair in Experimental Physics, University of California, Berkeley

March 26, time and location to be determined

Eric Betzig and his colleague Harald Hess built the first super-resolution single molecule localization microscope. For this work, he was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  A professor of molecular and cell biology, Betzig is also the Eugene D. Commins Presidential Chair in Experimental Physics, a Senior Fellow at the Janelia Research Campus, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Amanda Murdie and Diana Downs, Regents’ Professors, University of Georgia

Charter Lecture

March 27, 11 a.m., University Chapel

The 2024 Charter Lecture features the University of Georgia’s newest Regents’ Professors, distinguished faculty honored by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents for scholarship or creative activity that is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pace-setting.

Amanda Murdie is a 2024 Regents’ Professor, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of International Affairs and head of the department of international affairs. Murdie studies international relations, specializing in the behavior of international nongovernmental organizations and their interactions with states, local populations and intergovernmental organizations. Most of her work is in the areas of human security, human rights, conflict processes and development. A recent article identified her as one of the top five most productive researchers in the cross-disciplinary field of human rights from 1990 to 2020.

Diana Downs is a 2024 Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Research Professor in the department of microbiology. Downs has made transformative contributions to her field by using genetic analysis to help solve important biochemical mysteries of bacterial life. A key theme of her research is that pulling one thread of metabolism reveals interconnected threads in unexpected ways. Her work has been continually funded for 30 years by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and industry and private foundations. She has published 126 peer­reviewed papers and has graduated 27 Ph.D. students with five more currently working on their dissertations.

Fereidoon Shahidi, University Research Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland

J.G. Woodroof Lecture

April 9, 12:30 p.m., University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, Mahler Hall

Fereidoon Shahidi is an internationally renowned scholar and a pioneer in nutraceuticals and functional foods. His impressive research portfolio includes discoveries involving lipids, proteins, polyphenols, natural antioxidants and oxidation control in health and disease. Shahidi is the author of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters and is the editor or author of 78 books. He is the founder of the International Society for Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods and the Nutraceuticals & Functional Foods Division of the Institute of Food Technologists. He is the founding editor-in-chief of several scientific journals including the Journal of Functional Foods.

Sponsored by the Department of Food Science and Technology

Requests for accommodations for those with disabilities should be made as soon as possible but at least seven days prior to the scheduled lecture. To request an accommodation, please notify the event contact. Event contacts are listed here.