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About the Speakers

advancing research and scholarship at boston college


Headshot of keynote speaker Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc.

Keynote speaker:

Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc., the Ethel H. Wise Professor of Preventive Medicine, is a pediatrician and epidemiologist. He has been a member of the faculty of Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1985 and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine since 1990. He was named Dean for Global Health in 2010. Dr. Landrigan is also the Director of the Children's Environmental Health Center.

Dr. Landrigan graduated from Boston College in 1963 and from Harvard Medical School in 1967. He completed an internship in medicine/pediatrics at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital and a residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston. In 1977, he received a Diploma of Industrial Health from the University of London and a Masters of Science in Occupational Medicine degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He served for 15 years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). While at CDC, Dr. Landrigan served for one year as a field epidemiologist in El Salvador and for much of another year in northern Nigeria. He participated in the Global Campaign for the Eradication of Smallpox. Dr. Landrigan directed the national program in occupational epidemiology for NIOSH. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of the US Public Health Service.

In 1987, Dr. Landrigan was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and Editor of Environmental Research. He has published more than 500 scientific papers and 5 books. He has chaired committees at the National Academy of Sciences on Environmental Neurotoxicology and on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Landrigan served on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran's Illnesses. In 1997-1998, Dr. Landrigan served as Senior Advisor on Children's Health to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in helping to establish a new Office of Children's Health Protection at EPA. From 2000-2002, Dr. Landrigan served on the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board. Dr Landrigan served from 1996 to 2005 in the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve. He retired in 2005 at the rank of Captain. He continues to serve as Surgeon General of the New York Naval Militia, New York's Naval National Guard.

Dr. Landrigan is known for his many decades of work in protecting children against environmental threats to health. His research combines the tools of epidemiology with biological markers derived from clinical and laboratory medicine. Dr. Landrigan is deeply committed to translating research into strategies for health protection and disease prevention.

Headshot of Professor Dean Hashimoto

Dean Hashimoto is an Associate Professor who teaches health care law and has published extensively on a number of legal and policy issues connected to the intersections of science, medicine, and law. He has collaborated on interdisciplinary research at the Harvard Center for Work, Health, and Well-being, the Workers Compensation Research Institute, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. After graduating from the Yale Law School, he served as a law clerk for Justice William Brennan on the U.S. Supreme Court and worked at the law firm of Ropes & Gray before joining the BC law faculty. He also graduated from medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and serves as the chief of occupational and environmental medicine for Partners HealthCare at the MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 

Headshot of Professor Summer Hawkins

Assistant Professor Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Ph.D., joined the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) faculty in 2012. She is a social epidemiologist with an interest in addressing policy-relevant research questions in maternal and child health. Her research examines the impact of policies on health disparities in parents and children, particularly using methodology that integrates epidemiology and economics. Dr. Hawkins has published on the topics of parental smoking, infant feeding practices, and childhood obesity as well as the impact of state- and local-level policies on disparities in these health behaviors and outcomes. Prior to joining GSSW, Dr. Hawkins was a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Headshot of Professor Welkin Johnson

Welkin Johnson began his research career as an undergraduate at the University of California Berkeley, and later as a research assistant at UC San Francisco. In 1991, he moved to Boston to work on retroviruses as a graduate student at Tufts University School of Medicine. After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Johnson became a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he studied the AIDS-causing retroviruses of humans (HIV) and other primates (SIV). In 2005, he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and then in 2011, Dr. Johnson and his research team moved to the Biology Department at Boston College.  Professor Johnson’s research team at Boston College includes undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in studying the molecular, genetic, and evolutionary interactions between retroviruses and their hosts.

Headshot of James Keenan, S.J.

James F. Keenan, S.J., is the Canisius Professor, Director of the Jesuit Institute and Director of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program. A Jesuit priest since 1982, he received a licentiate (1984) and a doctorate (1988) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has edited or written sixteen books.

Fr. Keenan has published over 300 essays, articles and reviews in over twenty-five international journals. He has been a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Edinburgh (1994), the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton (1995, 1996), and the Instituto Trentino di Cultura (2007, 2008). He has been adjunct professor at the Gregorian University in Rome (2000, 2002), Loyola School of Theology in Manila (2001, 2003, 2004), and Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram in Bangalore (2007, 2009, 2012). He held the Tuohy Chair at John Carroll University, Cleveland (1999) and the Gasson Chair at Boston College (2003-2005). 

Fr. Keenan is the founder of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) and chaired the First International Cross-cultural Conference for Catholic Theological Ethicists in July 2006 in Padua, Italy. He subsequently edited the conference papers which appeared with publishing houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Bologna, Bangalore, Sao Paolo, and Manila. In 2010, he hosted another international conference of theological ethicists in Trento, Italy and published those papers. Today CTEWC is a live network of over 1000 Catholic ethicists ( He is presently working on two manuscripts, University Ethics and a history of moral theology.

Headshot of Professor Rebekah Levine Coley

Rebekah Levine Coley, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist, is a Professor of Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College's Lynch School of Education.  Coley’s research interests center on the intersection of development science and social policy. Her research focuses primarily on the needs and contexts of low-income families, addressing processes and policies regarding poverty and family economic resources, family structure and parenting, early educational contexts, and housing and neighborhood contexts.  Coley’s work seeks to delineate how these forces support or inhibit children’s emotional and behavioral skills, health behaviors, and school success.

Professor Coley’s research has been published in dozens of leading journals and edited volumes, and has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the U. S. Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the

W. T. Grant Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Casey Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. Coley’s current grants include funding from the W. T. Grant Foundation on adolescent health risk behaviors; from the MacArthur Foundation and W. T. Grant Foundation for mixed methods projects assessing low-income families’ housing contexts; and from the Spencer Foundation for work assessing the role of preschool in ameliorating income disparities in school readiness. Coley is a recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and a Social Policy Award from the Society for Research in Adolescence. 

Headshot of Professor Sara Moorman

Sara Moorman is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College. Her research studies the health and well-being of older adults from the life course perspective. The life course perspective is a theoretical framework that places individual development (i.e., aging) in socio-historical context. A key principle of the perspective is the concept of linked lives: People and relationships are interdependent, such that social institutions shape the life course. Her research focuses on the family as a key social institution that influences individual aging. While much work in family sociology has emphasized resilience, support, cohesion, and other benefits of kinship bonds, her work emphasizes contexts in which these ties are not protective. A classic paper in sociology is called “The Strength of Weak Ties.” One might say that the theme of her work has been “The Weaknesses of Strong Ties.” By adding nuance to the definition of a “strong family,” Professor Moorman's work informs public and political calls for social policy that strengthens families.

With the support of a grant from the Institute on Aging at Boston College, Professor Moorman has recently added a new dimension to her research on relationships and psychological well-being: She is examining the ways in which neighbors affect adult health. As with family relationships, the research on neighborhoods has emphasized the importance of social cohesion and social trust to psychological well-being, and lamented that today many Americans “bowl alone” without benefit of community integration and civic connection. Consonant with her other work, she questions the idea that interaction with neighbors is purely beneficial.

Headshot of Prof. Michael Naughton

Michael J. Naughton is Evelyn J. and Robert A. Ferris Professor in and Chairman of the Department of Physics at Boston College. He received a B.S. in Physics from St. John Fisher College, a Ph.D. from Boston University, and did a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a faculty member at SUNY Buffalo for ten years. Since 1998, he has been at Boston College, serving as chairman of the Physics Department since 2006 after spending an interim year as Assoc. VP for Research. Naughton is an NSF Young Investigator Awardee (back when he was young) and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. A condensed matter experimentalist with 180 publications and 5,700 citations, Naughton’s research is on electrical, optical and magnetic properties of low dimensional and nanoscale matter, including nanostructured bio/chemical and neuroelectronic sensors, solar cells, near-field optics and plasmonics, and molecular organic superconductors. He has 20 issued and 10 pending patents on micro and nanoscale magnetometry, plastic landmine detection, and nanocoaxial electrodes for microscopy, photovoltaics and sensing. He cofounded Tau Sensors LLC and Solasta Inc., and presently serves on the technical advisory boards of Bloo Solar and NBD Nano.

Headshot of Professor Martin Summers

Martin Summers is associate professor of history and the director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. He is a cultural historian of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S., with particular research and teaching interests in race, gender, sexuality, and medicine. He regularly teaches courses on post-1865 U.S. history, gender and sexuality in African American history, health and disease in the African Diaspora, and the history of masculinity in the U.S. Summers’ current research project is a social and cultural history of medicine which focuses on African American patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental institution in Washington, D.C. The project uses the hospital as a case study in which to explore the intersections of the historical process of racial formation, medical and cultural understandings of insanity, and the exercise of institutional power. He is the co-editor most recently of Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America (2014). Summers’ research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Humanities Center.

Headshot of Professor Melissa Sutherland

Dr. Melissa Sutherland joined the Boston College faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor at the William F. Connell School of Nursing. Clinically, she practiced as a family nurse practitioner at public health department in upstate New York for 10 years. At the health department, she worked with patients and populations with a specific focus on sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis. Her research and scholarship addresses the issue of interpersonal violence and its influence on health outcomes among adolescent and young adult women. Dr. Sutherland’s work has been published in leading peer-reviewed nursing and interdisciplinary journals and funded by intramural and extramural research grants.  Most recently, Dr. Sutherland received an R03 grant by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to examine intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV) screening in college health centers. Her expertise has resulted in an invited position on the Boston Public Health Commission’s Chlamydia Advisory Board, Committee for Community Service Board at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Multi-Disciplinary Advisory Board. Dr. Sutherland has also been involved in the initiative to develop an interdisciplinary Public Health Minor at BC. In spring 2014, she taught the first course in the initiative, Public Health in a Global Society. This semester Dr. Sutherland is co-teaching with Dr. Summer Hawkins of the Graduate School of Social Work.