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COVID-19 Vaccinations: Science, Politics, Mistrust, and Misinformation Panel

Slide with details on Panel Discussion

Atkins Library's Digital Media Literacy Group will host a panel discussion focusing on the COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, April 21 from 1- 2:30 p.m. Speakers from UNC Charlotte and the wider Charlotte area will address topics ranging from scientific information to political influences to medical mistrust to misinformation and disinformation. The panel discussion will be moderated by WBTV news anchor, Molly Grantham. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions following the facilitated discussion.

Please register for the discussion, and the Zoom link will be sent to you prior to the event.


Gibbie Harris

Gibbie Harris, MSPH, BSN, Public Health Director, Mecklenburg County

Gibbie Harris was named director of the Mecklenburg County of Health Department in October 2017, after serving as the Interim Health Director for three and a half months. Ms. Harris is responsible for managing the Department of over 800 public health professionals who have been responding directly to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.  The work of the Department also encompasses clinical services, preventive health, case management, health partnerships, and population health. 

Zinobia Bennefield

Zinobia Bennefield, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Zinobia Bennefield is an applied medical sociologist whose research interests include health equity, social determinants of health, and health policy. She then uses her research findings to help organizations improve health-based outcomes. Most recently, Dr. Bennefield has done extensive research on childhood and adolescent mental health which she has used to develop a training program for Charlotte Mecklenburg School district teachers on managing mental health in the classroom.

Melinda Forthofer

Melinda Forthofer, Ph.D., Professor of  Public Health Sciences, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Melinda Forthofer is a Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. From 2016-2020, Dr. Forthofer served as Department Chair, leading the department through a period of exponential growth through the addition of new programs and concentrations and recruitment of new faculty. Beginning in July 2021, Dr. Forthofer will begin serving as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Health and Human Services. Her research focuses on social factors related to health behavior change in diverse community settings.

Cynthia Gibas

Cynthia Gibas, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Cynthia Gibas is an expert in environmental genomics. She manages the UNC Charlotte Environmental Monitoring Lab, which is conducting SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance on campus buildings and surveillance sequencing for viral variants on campus.

Kathy Jordan

Kathleen Jordan, DNP, MS, FNP-BC, ENP-C, SANE-P, FAEN, Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Kathleen Jordan is an expert clinician, a Family and Emergency Nurse Practitioner who has been working on the frontlines since the COVID outbreak. She is an American Association of Nurse Practitioners Fellow and a Fellow in the Academy of Emergency Nursing. Moreover, she is the Advanced Practice Provider. Fellowship Director, Mid-Atlantic Emergency Medical Associates, and she was a  member of the planning committee for the University's COVID testing/mitigation system.

Shi Chen

Shi Chen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Health Informatics and Analytics, Department of Public Health Sciences, UNC Charlotte

Dr. Shi Chen is a faculty member in both public health sciences and data science. His background and research interests include data analysis and modeling of infectious disease as well as health misinformation dissemination on social media. He has been substantially involved with COVID-19 related research and teaching.

David Wessner

David Wessner, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Davidson College

A professor of biology at Davidson College, Dave earned his Ph.D. in microbiology at Harvard University and studied coronavirus pathogenesis as a post-doctoral researcher at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He is co-author of a microbiology textbook and The Cartoon Guide to Biology. He also writes periodically about the COVID-19 pandemic for

Dr. Gary Little

Gary Little, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Atrium Health Greater Charlotte Region

Since June 2018, Dr. Little has served as the Chief Medical Officer of Atrium Health’s Greater Charlotte Region.  In this role, Dr. Little leads and coordinates initiatives in Quality, Patient Safety, Physician and Advanced Practice Provider engagement, Clinical Operations, and System Integration for the Charlotte area acute care hospitals.

Dr. Little has been with Atrium Health since February 2016, when he served as the Chief Medical Officer for Carolinas Medical Center and CMC-Mercy.  Prior to joining Carolinas HealthCare System, Dr. Little served as Medical Director of George Washington University Hospital and Chair of Emergency Medicine at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Maryland respectively.