University of Delaware
McKay Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Sr. Professor of English, discusses his recent book, "What's Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World."

Diamonds and toxins

Delaware Diamonds Society members attend President's Authors Series event


12:43 p.m., March 11, 2013--Members of the Delaware Diamonds Society at the Fellow level and above were invited to attend a President’s Authors Series event on Monday, March 4, in the Roselle Center for the Arts to hear UD faculty member McKay Jenkins discuss his recent book and to meet with the author. 

Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Sr. Professor of English, presented the audience with information and anecdotes from his book, What’s Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World. 

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Many of the chemicals used in daily life are not regulated by the government, which makes it difficult to conclude what kind of effects they will have on the human body, according to Jenkins.   

“In Europe, chemicals are found guilty until proven innocent, in the U.S., it’s the opposite,” he said. 

Toxins and chemicals can appear in lawn care products, cosmetics, foods, the ocean, plants -- harmful toxins have even been found on the highest peak on Mt. Aconcagua in South America. 

Jenkins said he believes that part of the problem comes from the disconnect between humans and nature. 

“It’s hard to model yourself after nature if you don’t know what that is,” he said, remarking that his students often can’t tell him the phase of the moon or where their tap water comes from. 

Jenkins acknowledged that although the issue is overwhelming, it shouldn’t be ignored.  

“This stuff is not abstract,” he said. “These things result from our choices and our behavior.” 

After a question-and-answer period, Delaware Diamonds Society members gathered for a joint reception and book signing. 

At the reception, attendees reflected on Jenkins’ talk.

Bonnie Maxwell and Bob Hampel, professor and interim director of the School of Education, agreed that the presentation was very straightforward and clear. 

“I thought he was quite wonderful because he had an even-handed way of stating information,” said Maxwell.

“Talks like this can increase the amount of people who adopt a cause,” she added. 

Nancy Gray, Delaware Diamonds Society member, said that the President’s Authors Series is beneficial in multiple ways. 

“Events like this for Delaware Diamonds members make us feel appreciated and furthermore, we talk about the lectures to others in the University community so it creates value,” she said. 

Jaclyn Weisberg, president of the Student Alumni Association, encourages events such as the President’s Authors Series for members of the UD community who give back. 

“It’s a great chance for alumni to come back and feel connected to the University,” she said. 

About the Delaware Diamonds Society

Established in 1991, the Delaware Diamonds Society is a recognition society devoted to encouraging exemplary levels of financial support among alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends of the University of Delaware.  The society represents the top 11 percent of all UD contributors, paying tribute to those who contribute $1,000 or more annually on a consistent basis.  Members are invited to enjoy a closer view of the University through events, information, publications and special access.  For information on how to become a member of the Delaware Diamonds Society, please contact Robin Wray, senior director of annual giving, at 302-831-2104 or  

Article by Kelley Bregenzer

Photos by Evan Krape

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