graduate school public lectures

Weight & Wellness

As the sophistication of science and medicine advances, our understanding of health and wellness for individuals, families and nations grows beyond the mere measure of waistlines. In these lectures, the topic of body and size is approached with consideration to socioeconomic structures, nutritional disparity in food sources, brain chemistry, environmental influences and more, showing us that, for human health, it is not always our conventional wisdom that holds the most weight.

Interviews with Weight & Wellness lecturers by At Length host Steve Scher, ’87 are available below. Listen Now.

Our national eating disorder

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan

A nation hungry for convenience has found low returns in high calories, setting off a health crisis that has forced the United States to reassess our ingrained notions of food and nutrition. In this lecture, best-selling author, journalist and activist Michael Pollan explores a return to “slow food,” discussing how a more intentional approach to the American meal can remedy the effects of our national dietary identity crisis.

Wed. April 8, 2015

Obesity and poverty: Linking food, health and incomes

Adam Drewnowski

Dr. Adam Drewnowski

A prolific author of over 200 research papers and the inventor of the Nutrient Rich Food and Affordable Nutrition Indexes, Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., M.A., will demonstrate how the study of spatial epidemiology — the geographic distribution of food spending, diet quality and obesity rates — can create new understanding and solutions to our nation’s obesity crisis.

Tues. April 14, 2015

Obesity lessons learned at home and around the world

Shiriki Kumanyika

Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika

In this lecture, pioneering researcher and professor of epidemiology Shiriki Kumanyika expands on her efforts to improve the research on weight issues in African American communities, addressing the disproportionately high risk of diet-related chronic diseases experienced by African Americans.

Tues. April 21, 2015, 6:30 p.m. | Free

Advice from America’s doctor

Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., 18th Surgeon General

Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., 18th Surgeon General

As “America’s Doctor,” 18th United States Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., focused her attention on wellness and prevention, and provided the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health. In this lecture, she speaks to her time creating a roadmap for the nation’s health, and discusses the past and future of public health policy in the United States.

Thurs. April 30, 2015

Obesogens: How chemical exposure may cause obesity

Bruce Blumberg

Dr. Bruce Blumberg

In this lecture, University of California, Irvine, professor Bruce Blumberg discusses the role his work has played in revealing that the causes of obesity extend far beyond the implications of diet and exercise, demonstrating that chemical exposure in diet and environment play a far more significant role than previously thought.

Tues. May 5, 2015

Why is it so hard to lose weight?

Ellen Schur

Dr. Ellen Schur

UW professor Ellen Schur expands on her extensive body of work, including her research on the brain’s regulation of appetite funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association, bringing clarity and understanding to the perennial question that pervades so many parts of our health, self-image and culture: why is it so hard to lose weight?

Wed. May 13, 2015

Women and body image

Kathy Najimy

Kathy Najimy

Known for her memorable performances on both stage and screen (including Sister Act, Hocus Pocus, VEEP and 14 seasons as the voice of Peggy Hill on the award-winning animated series, King of the Hill), Kathy Najimy is also an outspoken voice in culture-wide conversations on issues of women’s and LGBTQ rights. In this lecture she speaks to issues of body image, taking on the cultural forces that adversely dictate the self-esteem and image of millions of women today.

Tues. May 19, 2015


UWAA and UWRA members receive advance registration for the series! Not a member? Join today!

For more information, contact the UW Alumni Association at 206-543-0540 or