Main Menu

President’s Lecture Series begins September 19 featuring lead paint talk

ISSUED: 9 August 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s President’s Lecture Series will explore the topics of lead toxicity, the American intelligence community, and artificial intelligence throughout the fall semester.

The first lecture will take place Tuesday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m., in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Dr. Richard Troast, founder of Troast Environmental Consulting, LLC, a toxicologist and recognized expert in the toxicity of lead to humans, will give a President’s Lecture titled “The Environmental Sources of Lead and the Potential Effects of the Continuing Exposure to Lead for Children and Adults.”

Troast started his career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) working in the pesticide safety office and moved throughout the EPA during his 33-year career. After retiring in 2004, Troast worked on a three-year assignment with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Jordan developing a hazardous waste control strategy for Jordan’s Ministry of the Environment.

Troast founded Troast Environmental Consulting in 2009 to represent people who have been exposed to hazardous chemicals, especially lead, which is still found in homes in paint, interior water pipes, and as dust from industrial sources. The published toxicity data show a clear relationship between neurological development issues in young children and lead exposure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has responded by lowering the acceptable threshold of lead in children’s blood from 10 micrograms to 5 micrograms per deciliter. Troast will discuss the environmental sources of lead and the potential effects of the continuing exposure to lead for children and adults.

The second lecture will be on Monday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m., in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall auditorium. Fred Turco, who served almost 40 years as a Central Intelligence Agency officer, will give a President’s Lecture titled “Discussion of American Intelligence Community from World War II to 2000.”

Turco spent 18 years abroad as a CIA field case officer during which time he was in charge of two major overseas offices. Following his overseas post, Turco ran three separate offices at CIA Headquarters, two of which he established. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Directors Award, the Distinguished Intelligence Award, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Award, the Distinguished Officer in the Senior Intelligence Service Award, and two Donovan Awards. He also received letters of commendation from the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Marines, U.S. Military Special Forces, and several other U.S. government organizations.

During his lecture, Turco will discuss the evolution of the intelligence community into its current 16 components and continuing issues regarding coordination among the agencies. He will also review their support to the country’s policy makers.

The final fall President’s Lecture will take place on Monday, November 27, at 6:30 p.m., in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. James Barrat, a documentary filmmaker, speaker, and author, will give a lecture titled “Artificial Intelligence, the Promise and Peril.”

Barrat’s groundbreaking 2013 nonfiction book, “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era,” led to Time Magazine naming him one of 5 Very Smart People Who Think Artificial Intelligence Could Bring the Apocalypse. The book was also named a Huffington Post Definitive Tech Book of 2013. Barrat’s lecture will explore the potential downsides of developing machines that have the capability of becoming more intelligent than humans, and how what we say to Siri and Alexa could potentially be used against us.

As an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Barrat has written, produced, and directed films for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and other broadcast networks in the U.S. and Europe.

For more information about Shepherd’s President’s Lecture Series, contact Karen Rice at 304-876-5135 or or visit

— 30 —