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Academic Affairs

Cyr Hall • University of Maine at Fort Kent • 23 University Drive, Fort Kent, ME 04743

Scholars' Symposium Keynote Speakers

Dr. Sandra Steingraber

photo of Dr. Sandra Steingraber
Photo by: Dede Hatch

Acclaimed Author and Ecologist


Ecologist, author, and cancer survivor, Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized authority on the environment links to cancer and human health.

Steingraber's highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment presents cancer as a human rights issue. Originally published in 1997, it was the first to bring together data on toxic releases with data from U.S. cancer registries and won praise from international media including The Washington PostPublishers WeeklyThe Lancet, and The London Times.

Released as a second edition in 2010, Living Downstream has been adapted for film by The People's Picture Company of Toronto. This eloquent and cinematic documentary follows Steingraber during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.

Continuing the investigation begun in Living Downstream, Steingraber's book, Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood, explores the intimate ecology of motherhood. Both a memoir of her own pregnancy and an investigation of fetal toxicology, Having Faith reveals the extent to which environmental hazards now threaten each stage of infant development. In the eyes of an ecologist, the mother's body is the first environment for life. The Library Journal selected Having Faith as a best book of 2001, and it was featured in a PBS documentary by Bill Moyers.

Called "a poet with a knife" by Sojourner magazine, Steingraber has received many honors for her work as a science writer. She was named a Ms. MagazineWoman of the Year and later received the Jenifer Altman Foundation's first annual Altman Award for "the inspiring and poetic use of science to elucidate the causes of cancer." The Sierra Club has heralded Steingraber as "the new Rachel Carson," and Carson's own alma mater, Chatham College, selected Steingraber to receive its biennial Rachel Carson Leadership Award. In 2006, Steingraber received a Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund and, in 2009, the Environmental Health Champion Award from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles.

An enthusiastic and sought-after public speaker, Steingraber has keynoted conferences on human health and the environment throughout the United States and Canada and has been invited to lecture at many universities, medical schools, and hospitals - including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and the Woods Hole Research Center. She is recognized for her ability to serve as a two-way translator between scientists and activists. She has testified in the European Parliament, before the President's Cancer Panel, and has participated in briefings to Congress and before United Nations delegates in Geneva, Switzerland. Interviews with Steingraber have appeared in The Chicago TribuneUSA TodayThe Cleveland Plain Dealer, on National Public Radio, "The Today Show," and "Good Morning America."

A columnist for Orion magazine, Sandra Steingraber is currently a scholar in residence in Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She is married to the artist Jeff de Castro, and they live in a 1000-square-foot house with a push mower, a clothesline, a vegetable garden, and two beloved children.

Dr. Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh

photo of Dr. Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh

Associate Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity • University of Southern Maine

Website: (link no longer active)

Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh is Associate Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity and a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Southern Maine. She has a B.S. in Forest Engineering from the University of Maine, an M.S. in Soil Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Ph.D. in Forest Soils from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Samantha teaches classes in Soil and Land Use, Soil and Water Conservation and Engineering, Bioremediation and Phytoremediation and Forest Ecology. Samantha's areas of research interest include the role of soils and dust in triggering adult and childhood asthma, the applications of phytoremediation techniques in mitigating lead contamination in urban soils, and the interactions between soil quality and vegetation health in urban and forest ecosystems.

Dr. Dan Ferber

photo of Dr. Dan Ferber

Award-winning Science Writer/Author

Website: (link no longer active)

Dan Ferber is the coauthor, with Paul Epstein, MD, of Harvard Medical School, of Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It. He's a contributing correspondent for Science magazine, where he covers biology and public health, and an award-winning writer for many national magazines, including WiredPopular ScienceAudubonSierraNature ConservancyReader's Digest and Women's Health. Before launching his career as a science writer, Dan earned a Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University and did postdoctoral research in microbiology.