‘Unseen world’ surrounds us
by MATT LIPAROTA MLIPAROTA@BELOITDAILYNEWS.COM • JAN. 23, 2012
Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 4:00 pm | Updated: 10:20 am, Mon Jan 23, 2012.
The world’s foremost hunter of dangerous microbes is coming to Beloit next month.
Nathan Wolfe, founder and CEO of Global Viral Forecasting based in San Francisco, will visit the Beloit College campus Feb. 3 to receive the Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s Distinguished Explorer Award.
Wolfe, a microbiologist and field virologist, has spent almost a decade in Southeast Asia and Africa, utilizing research to “target and prevent what he calls the next pandemic,” according to the society’s website.
“When we think about the future of exploration, people often look up to the sky or down into the deepest ocean,” Wolfe said. “The reality is there is an entire unseen world that’s in, on and around us that’s almost completely as-of-yet unexplored.”
Wolfe will discuss his research and discoveries during an award presentation at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus. Wolfe will also talk about his work with area youth in an assembly at Beloit Memorial High School earlier that day.
Bill Green, director of the Logan Museum at Beloit College and Roy Chapman Andrews Society board member, said he expects Wolfe to discuss the importance of forecasting epidemics.
“He’s going to show people that even though there are a lot of dangers in the world…we have the ability to forecast and contain these epidemics,” Green said.
The Roy Chapman Andrews Society seeks to recognize scientists who exemplify a combination of scientific exploration, teamwork and presentation of results to the public, Green said.
In the past, the society has presented the Roy Chapman Andrews Explorer Award to scientists for things like underwater and space exploration. Wolfe’s work is “a little unusual” compared to the kind of work the society usually recognizes, Green said.
“For me, it’s really exciting that (the society is giving the award) in the area of microbiology,” Wolfe said in a phone interview. “I think it’s so wonderful for them to acknowledge an area of exploration that is not commonly seen as such.”
Wolfe has degrees in human biology, biological anthropology and immunology and infectious disease from Harvard and Stanford Universities. Wolfe has worked as a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and UCLA and now acts as a visiting professor of human biology at Stanford.
The society seeks to uphold the legacy of Roy Chapman Andrews, a renowned explorer raised in Beloit and who attended Beloit College. Andrews is most known for a series of expeditions he led to Mongolia between 1922 and 1930, according to the society’s website. These expeditions were made up of teams of scientists from a variety of disciplines, Green said.
Later, Andrews became known for bringing his discoveries to the public at large by writing books for general audiences.
This is the tenth year the society has teamed with Beloit College to host the award presentation. The event is funded entirely through donations, Green said.
The presentation will be free and open to the public. After the presentation, Wolfe will sign copies of his book “The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age” and chat with visitors.