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Leo W. Parks Distinguished Lectureship

History of Dr. Leo W. Parks

Dr. Leo W. Parks, Professor Emeritus, was born in Wetaug, Illinois, and raised in the Chicago area. He received his B.S. with honors from the University of Illinois, Master’s degree from Indiana University, and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Under the auspices of a National Academy of Sciences Fellowship, he was a post-doctoral research associate in biochemistry at the Argonne National Laboratory. This was interrupted for active duty service in the US Army. After his service, Dr. Parks joined the faculty at Oregon State University (OSU) as an assistant professor and progressed through the ranks to professor. Dr. Parks came to NC State in 1985 as a professor and the head of the Department of Microbiology.

During his career, thirty-two graduate students earned their doctoral degrees under his supervision. His research focused on the biosynthesis of ergosterol in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a target for antifungals. Dr. Parks regularly taught the undergraduate and graduate courses in Microbial Physiology, and he served as Head of the Department of Microbiology from 1985 through 1993. At the commencement ceremony in May 2001, the graduating microbiology undergraduate students presented Dr. Parks with a plaque to recognize his outstanding teaching and to express their gratitude to him. Dr. Leo Parks has since retired, and he currently lives with his wife, Nancy, in Seattle, Washington.

The Leo W. Parks Distinguished Lectureship in Microbiology

This lecture series was created to honor Dr. Parks in perpetuity for his selfless attitude and many contributions to the NC State community. The Lectureship is made possible by the generous donors who helped establish a permanent endowment in the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., with matching support from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at North Carolina State University. Special thanks to Warren Casey and Hosni Hassan for their leadership role in the creation of the endowment.

We extend our gratitude and many thanks to all the generous donors to the endowment, including alumni, family, friends, NCSU and corporations, that make this Lectureship possible.

2021-2022 L.W. Parks Lecture Schedule

On March 28-29, 2022, the Leo W. Parks Endowment in Microbiology will feature three events – a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Discussion Panel, Student Flash Talk Sessions, and the Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Manu Prakash of Stanford University. All are invited to participate in these events through online links provided below. For more information about these events, visit the event website.

The deadline for Student Flash Talk submission by undergraduate and graduate students is March 7th, 2022. Please complete this google form to sign up for a flash talk.

March 29th, 4:00pm EDT: Distinguished Lecture

The Prakash lab uses interdisciplinary approaches including theory and experiments to understand how computation is embodied in biological matter. Examples include cognition in single cell protists and morphological computing in animals with no neurons and origins of complex behavior in multi-cellular systems. Broadly, we invent new tools for studying non-model organisms with significant focus on life in the ocean – addressing fundamental questions such as how do cells sense pressure or gravity? Finally, we are dedicated towards inventing and distributing “frugal science” tools to democratize access to science (previous inventions used worldwide: Foldscope, Abuzz), diagnostics of deadly diseases like malaria and convening global citizen science communities to tackle planetary scale environmental challenges such as mosquito surveillance or plankton surveillance by citizen sailors mapping the ocean in the age of Anthropocene.

Past Lectures Funded by the Leo W. Parks Distinguished Lectureship

Susan S. Golden, Dennis Dean, Martin Warren, Russell Rodriguez, Matthew Chapman, Allan Konopka, Rodolphe Barrangou, Nicholas Ornston, Peter Greenberg, Derek Lovely, Caroline Harwood, Patrick Dennis, and many other extraordinary researchers

Contact Information for L.W. Parks Lectureship 

Chris Cammarene-Wessel
North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc.
North Carolina State University
Box 7645
Raleigh, NC  27695

919-515-7678
chris_wessel@ncsu.edu