John M. Barry, prize-winning and New York Times best-selling author, provided the keynote address at the LSU Law Center Centennial Luncheon on Friday, September 15, 2006. Barry spoke to a sold-out crowd of Law Center alumni, faculty, staff, interested government officials and community members at the Cook Conference Center. His address was titled Nature Against Man: History, Politics, and Katrina.
The luncheon was one of several activities held on September 15 to commemorate the Law Center’s Centennial Celebration. A panel discussion explored the topic more in depth following the luncheon.
Barry is a recognized expert in a variety of areas, including infectious disease, rivers, crisis management, and the media. His books have won more than 20 awards. The National Academies of Science gave The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History the 2005 Keck Award for the year’s outstanding book on science or medicine. Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, won the 1998 Francis Parkman Prize given by the Society of American Historians for the year’s outstanding book of American history. His books have had concrete impact. A member of several advisory boards including at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a federal government Infectious Disease Board of Experts, he has advised federal, state, and World Health Organization officials, and the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Pathogens gave Barry its 2005 “September Eleventh Award.”
After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood control. He is co-originator of Riversphere, a $125 million center being developed by Tulane University which will be the first facility in the world dedicated to comprehensive river research. He has been keynote speaker at an international scientific meeting on influenza at the National Academy of Sciences, a White House Conference on the Mississippi Delta, at many conferences and university functions, and the National Academy of Sciences asked him to give the 2006 Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture.
Barry has appeared on every news network on such shows as Meet the Press, is a frequent guest on NPR and the BBC, has contributed to award-winning television documentaries, and has written for such publications as Fortune, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Esquire, and The Washington Post.
His books have also received less formal recognition. In 2004, GQ named Rising Tide one of nine pieces of writing essential to understanding America; other writings on that list included Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. His first book, The Ambition and the Power, was cited by The New York Times as one of the 11 best books ever written about Washington and the Congress. His second book The Transformed Cell: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer, coauthored with Dr. Steven Rosenberg, was published in 12 languages.
Currently Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities, he divides his time between New Orleans and Washington.
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