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University Commencement

Laurie Garrett

Honorary Degree Recipient: Doctor of Science

Laurie Garrett
Photo credit: Laurie Garrett

Rutgers is proud to bestow upon Laurie Garrett an honorary doctor of science degree. Garrett is an award-winning science writer and author. She is the only writer to have been awarded all “Three P’s” of journalism: The Peabody, Polk (twice), and Pulitzer. With decades of experience as a science writer, Garrett speaks with extensive knowledge of emerging diseases and epidemics and their impact on governments and societies.

The author of three books, Garrett wrote her first best-selling book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (1994), while splitting her time between the Harvard School of Public Health and the New York newspaper Newsday. During the 1990s Garrett continued tracking outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, noting the insufficient responses from global public health institutions around the world. This resulted in publication of her second book, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (2000). The following year Garrett covered the attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent anthrax mailings, leading to her third book, I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks (2011).

She is a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations where she focused on the national security aspects of emerging diseases and climate change. Currently, she is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Health Security Advisory Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Association for Science Writers. A former science correspondent for National Public Radio, Garrett is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and a frequent MSNBC contributor. She has written and reported for outlets including CNN, BBC, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Nightline, and hundreds more. Garrett was one of three scientific advisers for the Warner Brothers motion picture Contagion. Garrett’s work in the Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone and Liberia was filmed as part of CNN’s Unseen Enemy documentary, and her book The Coming Plague was produced as a six-part documentary series for CNN. Among her awards for her global health work and publishing are the 2014 NYU School of Medicine “Outstanding Contributions to Global Health” and the 2015 Internationalism Award from the American Women for International Understanding. In 2017 she was named one of 10 “Remarkable Women of UC,” by the Board of Regents of the University of California.

A native of Los Angeles, Garrett graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at University of California, Berkeley and did immunology research in the Herzenberg Lab of Stanford University. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting was invented at the lab and was used to sort living human cells of the immune system, determining their functions—a vital set of discoveries that included identifying CD4 cells just five years before the emergence of HIV, allowing speedy recognition that the virus’s primary target were the CD4s.