Think Fast … COVID-19: The Impact and Implications

Thursday, March 19 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (EDT)
Complimentary livestream

What started as an unknown virus from Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, had infected more than 90,000 people in more than 50 countries by early March. While public health systems grapple with responses to the infection, other sectors have been noticeably affected, including national economies, educational institutions and politics. Click in with us as we examine the impact of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, in more detail and from a variety of perspectives.

This event is sponsored by the UNC General Alumni Association and Carolina Public Humanities.

Panelists include: Peter Coclanis, Jason Roberts, John Komlos and Rachel Graham; moderated by Max Owre. Read each of their full bios below.

Max Owre, Moderator

Max Owre started working with Carolina Public Humanities (CPH) in 2009 when it was still the “Program in the Humanities and Human Values.” He served as associate director (2010-13) and interim director (2013-14) before assuming the position of executive director in July 2014. A graduate of the University of Vermont, he obtained his PhD in modern European history from UNC in 2008. Max is a lecturer in the history department, teaching courses in European, world and colonial history since 2007. He is a principal organizer and frequent host and moderator of CPH Events. He also lectures frequently for CPH on various topics in French and European history.

Peter Coclanis

Peter A. Coclanis is an economic historian who works on questions relating broadly to economic development in various parts of the world from the seventeenth century CE to the present. He has published widely in U.S. economic history, Southeast Asian economic history, and global economic history. He also writes frequently for newspapers and magazines on contemporary issues ranging from political economy to culture to sports.

Rachel Graham

Dr. Rachel Graham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Vanderbilt University in 2006 from the laboratory of Mark Denison, M.D., after which she came to the laboratory of Ralph Baric, Ph.D., to continue her studies. Her training has focused on the molecular virology of coronaviruses, with an emphasis on the mechanisms by which coronaviruses replicate, adapt to selective pressure, and emerge in novel host populations. Dr. Graham has been actively studying coronaviruses since just prior to the SARS-CoV pandemic in 2002-2003.

John Komlos

John Komlos is Professor Emeritus of Economics and of Economic History, University of Munich. He also taught at Duke, Harvard, UNC-CH, as well as in Vienna and Switzerland. Born during the siege of Budapest during the last days of World War II, he became a refugee twelve years later during the famous uprising there and grew up in Chicago where he received PhDs in both history and in economics from the University of Chicago. His mentor was the Nobel-Prize winning economic historian Robert Fogel, who suggested that he study the impact of economic processes on human biology. Komlos devoted most of his academic career developing and expanding this research agenda, which culminated in his founding of the field of “Economics and Human Biology” with the journal of the same name in 2003. New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, wrote about his work: as has The New Yorker magazine:  Through that research program he became a humanistic economist and has been writing about current economic issues including blogging for PBS [] from a humanistic perspective. His textbook, Foundations of Real-World Economics, advocates for a “Capitalism with a Human Face”.

He has received awards from the German Science Foundation, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, and a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. His publications appeared in such journals as the American Economic Review, American Historical Review, American Journal of Human Biology, and Economics and Human Biology; while his books were published by Oxford, Chicago, and Princeton University Presses.

Jason Roberts

Jason M. Roberts is a Professor specializing in American political institutions, with an emphasis on the U.S. Congress. He earned his B.S. in Political Science from the University of North Alabama (1998), his M.A. in Political Science from Purdue University (2000), and his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis (2005). Prior to joining the faculty at UNC, Professor Roberts was an assistant professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include parties and procedures in the U.S. Congress and congressional elections. He is currently working on a project that explores the role of ballot type on the competitiveness of congressional elections in the United States.

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