CORVALLIS, Ore. – Science journalist David Quammen, author of 16 books including “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic” in 2012, will give a virtual public presentation at 3 p.m. Friday to kick off the Oregon State University seminar series, “What can ecology, evolution and conservation biology contribute to understanding global pandemics?”

Anyone can watch Quammen’s presentation free via Zoom,, or YouTube,

Educated at Yale and Oxford, Quammen spent 15 years as a columnist for Outside Magazine and has written for National Geographic since 1999, starting with a three-story series on the MegaTransect, ecologist J. Michael Fay’s 2,000-mile walk across Africa.

Quammen’s books include “The Song of the Dodo,” “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin” and “The Tangled Tree.”

“David is one of the best natural history writers of our time,” said Matt Betts, a professor in the OSU College of Forestry and co-organizer of the seminar series. “He has this knack for becoming obsessed with an area of science that is new to him, mastering its general patterns and details and then communicating it clearly and excitingly to the public.”

Quammen’s presentation, titled “The Ecology and Evolution of a Coronavirus,” launches the fifth annual seminar series sponsored by the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society in the College of Forestry; the Forest Biodiversity Research Network; the OSU Research Office; the Department of Integrative Biology in the College of Science; and two departments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Botany and Plant Pathology and Fisheries and Wildlife.

“With a different timely theme each year, the seminar series is an effort to encourage interaction and collaboration among the many ecologists and evolutionary biologists across the university,” Betts said.

“The series also provides a forum for cutting-edge ideas in ecology and evolution from some of the real global leaders in the field and gives students an opportunity to invite and then interact with some of their scientific heroes,” added series co-organizer Andy Jones, a botany and plant pathology researcher at OSU.

The series continues at 3 p.m. each Friday throughout fall term. The lineup of presenters includes:

Oct. 2: Carl Zimmer, New York Times, “Can science save us from COVID?”

Oct. 9: Winifred Frick, Bat Conservation International, “The relevancy of bat research and conservation to global health.”

Oct. 16: Wendy Turner, SUNY Albany, “Anthrax transmission in African wildlife.”

Oct. 23: Liza Comita, Yale University, “How disease begets diversity: Plant-pathogen interactions in tropical forests.”

Oct. 30: Andrew P. Dobson, Princeton University, “Ecology and economics for pandemic prevention.”

Nov. 6: Susan Jarvi, University of Hawaii, Hilo, “Rat lungworm disease: an emerging infectious disease in the United States.”

Nov. 13: Erin Mordecai, Stanford University, “Global change and the ecology of vector-borne disease.”

Nov. 20: Abba Gumel, Arizona State University, “Could face masks curtail the post-lockdown resurgence of COVID-19 in the United States?”

Dec. 4: Ben Dalziel, Oregon State University, “Ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in cities.”

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 35,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039
[email protected]


Matt Betts, 541-737-3841
[email protected]

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