Mongolian doctor to address food safety in next BHSU Geek Speak lecture

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, March 12, 2018/Categories: Events, Community, Faculty, President, 2018

This week’s Black Hills State University Geek Speak will feature guest lecturer and BHSU Presidential Fellow, Dr. Jama Khainzan. A public health education professional with extensive experience in nutrition and food safety education, Khainzan has used her expertise to develop policies and programs in Mongolia and internationally.  

In her Geek Speak, “The Global Commons: Food Safety Concerns,” Khainzan will blend her expertise of cross-cultural attitudes toward health education and nutrition to describe some of the dangers we face today, such as food safety, contamination, and conservation issues. Her presentation will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 15 in Jonas 110. All Geek Speaks are free and open to the public.

Khainzan has lived in and visited many countries, including Mongolia, Russia, India, and the United States. As a health and nutrition professional, she notices differing cultural attitudes toward food wherever she goes. “In India, I met many vegetarians. In Mongolia, we eat meat with every meal—we have 3 million people, but 65 million head of livestock!” Khainzan recalls one situation in which Indian doctors were helping at a hospital in Mongolia. “We had to carry their vegetarian meals from one side of the city to the other—with traffic it could take two hours—because meals without meat are not normal in Mongolia. There weren’t close places to get food.”

These cultural differences overlap with our perceptions about food preparation and safety, Khainzan explains. “Here in the United States, the food systems are set up well, but this causes people to take things as guaranteed. No one is concerned about the food they serve here, because it’s safe—you believe you’ll never get sick. But the fact is that 1 out of 6 people will get sick every year. 50,000 people die annually because of food poisoning. This bleeds into the topic of water conservation and sanitation, as well.”

Khainzan says she wants to address the topic as a public health concern, and discuss ways people can be mindful, not afraid, of what they are eating. “Food is nutrition—you have to replenish yourself. During the Geek Speak lecture I’ll discuss safety concerns about food and what you can do to protect yourself.”

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students and the community to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks are also presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish. All lectures are free and open to the public.
  • March 22: “The Geometry of Redistricting,” by Dr. Daniel Swenson, associate professor of mathematics
  • April 5: “Sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Making the Connection” by Petrika Peters, sustainability coordinator for BHSU
  • April 12: "Rebel Girl: Celebrating a Century of Exchange Between American Popular Music and Feminism” by Dr. Dan May, assistant professor of mathematics, and Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, professor of sociology
  • April 19: "Artificial vs. Human Intelligence: The Coming Conflict Over the Definition of Rationality” by Dr. Max Marc, associate professor of management
  • April 26: “From Bach to Braindrill: Exploring the similarities between Metal and Classical music and fandom” by Dr. David Berberick, assistant professor of music
  • University Honors Capstone Defenses. Please join us as our Honors Scholars defend their capstone work to graduate as International University Scholars, University Scholars, and Research Scholars. Refreshments will be served. Please note: these defenses are held at the Joy Center.
    • Tuesday, April 24:  3-5 p.m.
    • Wednesday, April 25:  3-5 p.m.
    • Monday, April 30: 3-5 p.m.
    • Tuesday, May 1:  3-5 p.m.
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit 
For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and associate professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

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