A spiritual community for all: advancing justice and embracing diversity with love and acceptance

The Joseph Priestley Lecture Series,
Science at the Solstice

Joseph PriestleyThe Priestley Lecture series is inspired by the traditional Christmas Lectures of the Royal Institution in London, initiated by Michael Faraday. Our series is named after Joseph Priestley (image at left), an 18th century Unitarian minister, early chemist, discoverer of oxygen, and refugee from England for holding such beliefs as a denial of mind-body duality.

For this annual winter celebration of science, we invite active researchers and educators to enlighten us with contemporary advances in worldly knowledge. Previous Priestley lecturers have been: Nobel Laureate Robert Curl, co-discoverer of buckyballs; John Lienhard, engineer and radio host of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity;" mathematician Robert Hardt; evolution educator Connie Barlow; genome researcher David Wheeler; neuroscientist David Eagleman; nanotechnologist Vicki Colvin; and greenhouse gas scientist Ronald Sass.

This Year's Lecture

Dr. Winifred HamiltonDr. Winifred Hamilton
"The Health of Two Cities: Paradoxical Risks for Poor and Prosperous Houstonians"

Dr. Winifred Hamilton of Baylor College of Medicine's Environmental Health Service will give the annual Priestley Lecture at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston on Sunday, February 22 beginning at 1:30 p.m. This free public lecture continues an eight-year tradition of wintertime science explorations, from buckyballs and nanotechnology to neuroscience and the law.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A session, then by a reception with light refreshments.

Dr. Hamilton will speak on the puzzles of environmental health, often unexplainable by physical or chemical factors alone. For example, Hispanics have paradoxically good health, in many ways as good or better than other ethnic groups, despite having on average lower income and living standards. How much of their flourishing in adversity comes from simpler diets, or closer family ties? Both research and clinical practice show a major role for our social environment in bodily and mental health.

Dr. Hamilton is director of the Environmental Health Service at Baylor College of Medicine, which in 2014 opened the first-ever academically grounded environmental health clinics in the multistate area. She has a particular interest in geospatial modeling to assess hot spots of exposure and/or health effects, and in the education of health care professionals regarding the importance of environmental exposures in their practices.

Dr. Hamilton has received numerous awards for her work in environmental health, including the U.S. EPA’s Children’s Environmental Health Champion Award. She earned her graduate degrees from the University of Michigan, Rice University, and the Harvard School of Public Health, the latter in environmental health epidemiology.

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Updated: January 16, 2015