The William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture Series


Bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong

February 15, 2024, 7 p.m.

An accomplished speaker, award-winning science writer Ed Yong brings his vast scientific knowledge and engages his audiences through his insightful conversations about the pandemic, the animal kingdom, the challenges of science journalism and more.

He is the bestselling author of “I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us,” a groundbreaking, informative and entertaining examination of the relationship between animals and microbes. His second book, “An Immense World,” takes a comprehensive look at the fascinating sensory worlds of animals. A New York Times bestseller, “An Immense World” was longlisted for the PEN America 2023 Literary Award and made many “best books of the year” lists.

A longtime science reporter for The Atlantic, Yong’s work has also appeared in National Geographic, The New Yorker, Wired, Nature, New Scientist and Scientific American, among others.

Back in 2018, he warned readers about the dangers an infectious disease outbreak would pose to public health in the United States. When COVID-19 broke out in the United States in March 2020, Yong projected the repercussions if and when the virus became a national issue. Throughout 2020, he continued his exemplary reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, giving a full account of what went wrong, concluding that “almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable.”

Named “the most important and impactful journalist” of 2020 by Poynter, Yong was awarded journalism’s top honor, the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for his crucial coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Yong has also won the George Polk Award for science reporting; the Victor Cohn Prize for medical-science reporting; the Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for investigative journalism; the John P. McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association; and the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for in-depth reporting.

Praise for “An Immense World”

Yong writes in a perfect balance of scientific rigor and personal awe as he invites readers to grasp something of how other animals experience the world.


A thrilling tour of nonhuman perception … Nature’s true wonders aren’t limited to a remote wilderness or other sublime landscape … There is as much grandeur in the soil of a backyard garden as there is in the canyons of Zion.

The New York Times

A dazzling ride through the sensory world of astoundingly sophisticated creatures … [A] deeply affectionate travelogue of animal sensory wonders.

The Wall Street Journal



Brien Lewis

Introduction of the Speaker 

Ysa Leon 
Transylvania University Student Government Association President

William R. Kenan Jr. Lecture 

Ed Yong

Question and Answer Session

Rebecca Thomas
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the University
Please text questions to ‪859‑373‑9798.

Book purchases and signing will be available in Carrick Theater following the lecture.

You are invited to attend an informal conversation with Yong and Transylvania professor Ellen Furlong in Carrick Theater on Friday, Feb. 16, from 9:30‑10:20 a.m.

Recent Kenan LECTURES

2023 National Book Award-winning author Imani Perry, “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation”

2022 U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, “Bridging Chasms”

2019 Sir Salman Rushdie, “On Civility”

2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder and Deogratias Niyizonkiza, on the subject of the book “Strength in What Remains”

2017 Claudia Rankine, award-winning poet and National Book Award finalist, “Citizen: An Evening with Claudia Rankine”

2015 Robert F. Kennedy Jr., “Green Capitalism: Why Environmental Policy Equals Good Business Policy”

2014 Ronald Mallett, physicist, “The Real Science of Time Travel,” and Eric Klein, philanthropist, “The Power of One”

2013 Michele Norris, NPR host and special correspondent, author and originator of The Race Card Project, and Peter Bergen, award-winning print and television journalist, educator and author

2012 Ted Nordhaus, co-founder and chairman, Breakthrough Institute, “The Long Death of Environmentalism,” and Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health, New York University, “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health” 

2011 Randall Kennedy, author and scholar on race and ethnicity, professor of law, Harvard University, “Can We Talk? Problems in Race and Conversation” 

2010 Mary McDonnell, actress, “An Evening with Mary McDonnell,” and Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy, Princeton University, “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers”

Transylvania University