Feb 25, 2021

2021 Honors Symposium to Examine Pandemics

Flathead Valley Community College’s 2021 Honors Symposium opens Wednesday, March 10 and will feature two thought-provoking lectures that will address this year’s theme of “Pandemics: How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going?” Free and open to the public, the lectures will be conducted via Zoom. Links to listen to the live lectures are available at

“This year’s Honors Symposium features distinguished scholars from our Montana community who are striving to promote an understanding of the current global coronavirus pandemic, as well as offer a glance at pandemics in a historical context,” event organizer Dr. Gerda Reeb said.  

Dr. Marshall Bloom, M.D. will kick off this year’s symposium with his lecture, “Pandemics: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow?” on Wednesday, March 10 at 6 p.m. He will offer an overview of other emerging infectious diseases, why they emerge and how they can transform into true pandemics. He will also describe several recent pandemics and some of the lessons that should have been learned from them.

Dr. Bloom is an internationally recognized expert on the pathogenesis of tick-borne flaviviruses, persistent infections and parvoviruses. He serves as chief of the biology of vector-borne viruses in the Laboratory of Virology and is the associate director for scientific management at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton. RML is part of the Division of Intramural Research of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health.

The second and final lecture in this year’s Honors Symposium features Dr. Ruth Wrightsman, Ph.D. presenting “The COVID-19 Pandemic: The Virus, the Vaccines and the Variants” on Tuesday, March 16 at 12 p.m. She will discuss the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, how the COVID-19 vaccines work, and the race between vaccination and the emergence of genetic variants. 

Dr. Wrightsman spent 25 years in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UC-Irvine studying the immunology of the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. She has been a community college educator for over 30 years and has taught a range of biology courses, including general biology, microbiology, genetics, and cellular and molecular biology.

For more information and Zoom links, visit or call Reeb at (406)756-3889.