Heidi Larson, Ph.D., founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project and professor of Anthropology and Risk and Decision Science in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, will be the 2022 Yale School of Public Health Commencement speaker.
The Commencement ceremony, with the presentation of diplomas and the Commencement Awards, will take place on Monday, May 23, at 3 p.m. at Woolsey Hall. It will be preceded by the University-wide Commencement ceremony on the Old Campus in the morning and a YSPH reception luncheon from noon-2 p.m. at the Omni Hotel, 155 Temple St. For the University-wide ceremony, graduates will assemble at 9:40 a.m. at Cross Campus; the procession from Cross Campus to the Old Campus begins at 10, followed by seating at 10:15, the ceremony at 10:30 and recessional at 11:30.
Larson will give her address virtually, as she’ll be in Davos, Switzerland, participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. She is a leading expert in issues of vaccine hesitancy and coverage, conducting research and mapping issues around public trust in vaccines globally. Her research helps design and evaluate health and development programs, focusing on social and political factors that affect policies. COVID-19 has brought her work on risk and rumor management in health programs to the fore, including how vaccine technologies, communicating clinical trials and facilitating delivery can help build public trust.
Larson is also a clinical professor at the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, a fellow in the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security in London and a guest professor at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She previously led Global Immunization Communication at UNICEF, chaired Gavi’s Advocacy Task Force and served on the WHO SAGE Working Group on vaccine hesitancy.
In addition, Larson served on the FDA Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Emergency Communication Expert Working Group. Currently, she is the principal investigator for a global study on the acceptance of vaccination during pregnancy; an EU-funded (EBODAC) project on the deployment, acceptance and compliance of an Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone; and a global study on public sentiments and emotions around current and potential measures to contain and treat COVID-19. She is also the author of STUCK: How Vaccine Rumors Start – and Why They Don’t Go Away (Oxford University Press, 2020).
The luncheon at the Omni Hotel is optional. Graduates do not need a ticket; however, you’ll need to purchase tickets for your guests. You may purchase a maximum of two tickets for guests ($15 per ticket), and are available online until May 10. Tickets will not be available at the door. If you have more than two guests, you can add your name to the extra ticket wait list. If you have a large group of guests (over 6), you should consider having lunch at a downtown restaurant. All restaurants will be available at that time, since the other schools at Yale are holding their commencements at lunchtime. A list of dining options is available online.
This year, there will also be a set of alumni Commencement events for the Class of 2020 – who were unable to graduate publicly due to the pandemic – on Saturday, May 14. There will be a University ceremony on the Old Campus in the morning, followed by a lunch reception from noon-2 p.m. at the Omni Hotel. Class of ’20 graduates will also assemble at 9:40 a.m. at Cross Campus; the procession from Cross Campus to the Old Campus begins at 10, followed by seating at 10:15, the ceremony at 10:30 and recessional at 11:30.