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  • Pandemics: warnings from the past, lessons for the future

Pandemics: warnings from the past, lessons for the future

  • Tuesday, July 04, 2023
  • 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Gregory Place, Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill and via Zoom


Registration is closed

RGSQ Lecture Series

RGSQ recommends that all attendees at this event be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or exempt.

Dr Gayle Pollard B.Sc. (Hons) Ph.D.

The events of the past three years as we have dealt with COVID-19 from the local to the global level have put pandemics at the forefront of society’s collective consciousness. As the effects of COVID-19 on our community start to wane, the obvious question that many are posing is: ‘Are we ready for the next one?’.

In this lecture we will take a journey through past pandemics from Roman times, through the Black Death, the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu, several ‘hidden’ pandemics and finally up to the current COVID-19 pandemic. We will cover the varying characteristics of the different pathogens involved and the responses of the affected societies to these pandemics. Finally we will look at what we can learn from past pandemics and how this may affect our preparation for future events.

The question of preparedness is complex and we will explore the different factors that will determine just how prepared humanity is, or is able to be for ‘the next one’.


Dr Gayle Pollard B.Sc. (Hons) Ph.D. Advanced Epidemiologist, Queensland Health

Gayle currently works as an Advanced Epidemiologist in the Metro South Public Health Unit of Metro South Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Health. Prior to 2020, her role encompassed such diverse areas of epidemiology as food-borne illness outbreak investigation, childhood immunisation program monitoring, communicable disease monitoring, and reporting on health indicators including hospitalisations, cancer incidence, cancer screening, maternal and child health and chronic disease risk factors.

In February 2020 her life changed when she and her colleagues found themselves at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic response, providing data to support contact tracing, following up COVID-19 outbreaks and reporting on local-level COVID-19 statistics.

Gayle’s background is in marine ecology with her Ph.D. studies taking place in part at U.Q’s Heron Island Research Station. Statistics saw her move sideways into epidemiology with Queensland Health. She has spent 27 years working with health data, initially as an analyst and for the past 15 years as an epidemiologist.

Please note: If you have registered to attend the lecture via Zoom, the lecture link will be emailed to all registrants closer to the lecture date. This lecture may be recorded. If you have any questions, please email us at

ImagesClockwise from top left:

"The Plague" by C. Audran after P. Mignard. US Library of Congress/Corbis; A plague doctor in protective clothing, circa 1656; engraving by Paul Fürst after J. Colombina; Emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918. New Contributed Photographs Collection / otis historical Archives / US National Museum of Health and Medicine; US Food and Drug Administration images; US Centres for Disease Control images; US Food and Drug Administration images.

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The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd.
Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill QLD 4000  |  +61 7 3368 2066
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