The speakers of West Virginia University’s 2012-13 David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of ideas have earned their stripes in the fields of medicine, politics, activism and science.

They include: Dr. David Agus, a pioneering cancer physician and biomedical researcher; Candace Gingrich-Jones, LGBT activist and sister to conservative politician Newt Gingrich; Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; and Scott Tinker, geologist and co-producer of the award-winning energy documentary “Switch.”

Dr. David Agus, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors and a pioneer in biomedical research, is the author of “The End of Illness,” a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. His book examines the accepted wisdom in healthcare today and how the way we treat our bodies deprives us of robust health through daily activities such as taking multivitamins, sitting most of the day, and purchasing food that we think is “fresh.”

Agus is professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California where he heads the Westside Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton and his Medical Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He trained at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and is chair of the Global Agenda Council on Genetics for the World Economic Forum.

Agus will present his Festival of Ideas lecture on Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in The Erickson Alumni Center. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Laurence and Jean DeLynn Lecture Series and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

Candace Gingrich-Jones is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and author of the “The Accidental Activist: A Personal and Political Memoir.” When her brother Newt Gingrich was elected as speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich-Jones drew national attention for her opposition to his views and her own stance on LGBT issues. The book chronicled her journey from being an unknown political entity to becoming a nationally known gay rights advocate.

She has blogged for The Huffington Post and has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Good Morning America and Larry King Live, among others. She is currently the associate director of the Youth and Campus Outreach Program for the Human Rights Campaign.

Gingrich-Jones will present at the Festival of Ideas on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

Cory Booker is in his second term as mayor of Newark, N.J., the largest city in the state and neighbor to New York City. In his time as mayor, the city has seen a steady drop in crime, including its first murder-free month in more than 44 years. The production of affordable housing has more than doubled in the city, and Booker has presided over an increase in philanthropy, including a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark school system.

He has become known for his social media savvy with more than 1 million followers on Twitter, a medium he often uses to communicate with constituents whether that is offering to remove snow from residents’ driveways or reporting the outcome after he pulled a woman from a burning house.

He turned down the opportunity to head the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy while serving as Newark’s mayor. Booker is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar. He recently spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Booker will speak at WVU on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. His talk is co-sponsored by the WVU Center for Black Culture and Research.

Scott Tinker is director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin.

In the award-winning documentary he co-produced and narrated—”Switch”—Tinker describes his decade-long journey of seeking truth in a landscape of energy choices that is littered with conflict as the public considers new opportunities, past failures such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the day’s current issue of hydro-fracking.

At the University of Texas, Tinker’s research includes global energy supply and demand, technology administration, resource assessment, multidisciplinary reservoir characterization and 3-D reservoir modeling. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University, a master’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Colorado.

“Switch” is a feature-length documentary that seeks to make the complex world of energy understandable. The film, shot on locations around the world, fills a gap in the national energy conversation by providing a comprehensive, balanced yet elegantly simple depiction of the important topic of energy. To read more about the documentary, go to:

Tinker’s talk will include the screening of his documentary “Switch” and will be held March 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Metropolitan Theater on High Street in Morgantown. His talk is co-sponsored by WVU’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy.

Another Festival of Ideas lecture is scheduled for Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms as part of the Nath Lecture Series and co-sponsored with the WVU Honors College. The speaker, who will be a star member of the WVU faculty, is yet to be determined.

The festival kicked off earlier this year with a speech by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric.

This lecture series was created in 1995 by former WVU president, David C. Hardesty Jr., and was inspired by events he organized as WVU’s student body president in the 1960s.

Today, the Festival of Ideas spans the entire academic year and is organized by the Office of University Events. The aim is to bring key figures from politics, business, entertainment, research, sports, scholarship and culture to Morgantown to open the doors of discussion and engage the Mountaineer community in thoughtful conversations about important issues by facilitating the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.

The series is supported in part by the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas Endowment. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Go online to to view the latest information. Follow the Festival of Ideas on Facebook.



CONTACT: Liz Dickinson, Office of University Events

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