2013 Speakers

  • Kathy Eldon

    Kathy Eldon


    Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and educated at Wellesley College, Kathy Eldon has worked as a teacher, journalist, author, film and television producer in England, Africa, and the United States. She is the founder of Creative Visions Foundation, a global organization that supports “creative activists” who use their creative talents to change the world around them and also launched Creative Visions Productions, which produces entertaining, socially conscious documentaries and films.

    Kathy is the co-founder of Sanctri, a new Facebook application that enables individuals to not only remember those who have passed on, but also to celebrate their lives through creating enduring memorials and tributes.  Kathy is the author of seventeen books, including her new memoir, “In the Heart of Life,” coming out in September 2013

  • Adora Svitak

    Adora Svitak


    Author, teacher, and student

    Since the age of four, Adora Svitak has been exploring what she can do with the written word: everything from championing literacy and youth voice to working with the UN’s World Food Programme to raise awareness about world hunger. Hoping to instill her love of writing in others, she taught her first class at a local elementary school the year her first book, Flying Fingers, debuted; since then, she has spoken at hundreds of schools, classrooms and conferences around the world. In 2010, she delivered the speech “What Adults Can Learn from Kids” at TED. The speech received over one million views online and has been translated into over 40 different languages. That same year, Adora started organizing TEDxRedmond. Over the course of years of speaking, her audiences have included teachers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, students, and delegates at the United Nations. She will be a senior in high school this fall.

  • Wendy Lindley

    Wendy Lindley


    Wendy Lindley is a Superior Court Judge in Orange County, California.  Inspired by Life Magazine pictures of third world children in need of medical attention, Wendy initially had her sights set on becoming a physician and working in Africa, but she struggled with math so she settled on a degree in occupational therapy.

    A few years into her career — and through a complete twist of fate — Wendy made a career 180, went to law school and became a judge.   Blending her healing arts experience with her knowledge of the law Wendy has brought a unique and caring perspective to the criminal courtroom.   For the past 19 years she has collaborated with criminal justice agencies and treatment professionals to help the non-violent offenders that come to her courtroom to take back their lives so that they can be healthy and productive members of their communities.  Wendy’s courts are designated national mentor courts tasked with training other interested judges to implement a therapeutic justice court model in their jurisdictions

  • David Choi

    David Choi


    David Choi is a native Los Angeles singer/songwriter/producer whose songs and tracks have been heard on NBC, FOX, VH1, MTV, A&E, E!, Travel Channel, Style, PBS, Food Network, Disney, retail stores all over the USA, as well as in national commercials overseas. He has worked with brands such as Kelloggs, American Cancer Society, GE, YesStyle, Blue Microphones, Google, Samsung, Hyundai, and JC Penney. On YouTube, David has close to a million subscribers and over 117,000,000 total video views. He has been interviewed by Larry King (Larry King Now) and his videos have been tweeted by Joe Jonas (Jonas Brothers), Ashton Kutcher, and Ryan Seacrest.

    David has toured all over the world performing his original songs and covers in front of thousands of people — all without being signed to a record label. He wrote and self produced all three of his albums “Only You”, “By My Side”, and “Forever and Ever” which debuted at #97 on the iTunes top album charts. He continues to tour and share his music with people from all walks of life to every corner of the world.

  • Shaheen Sadeghi

    Shaheen Sadeghi


    Shaheen is the President and CEO, LAB Holding, LLC

    Following a successful career in the fashion industry including VP Corp, Gotcha and President of surfing giant Quiksilver, Shaheen has taken his expertise to the unconventional place of niche retailing.  His initial project, the LAB Anti-Mall, now 20 years “young”, continues to garner international acclaim by the BBC, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, NPR and the Wall St. Journal, among others.

    In 2002 Shaheen established the first “green” retail center, the CAMP, including the innovative anchor eco product store, SEED People’s Market.  Other projects include the restoration of the historic Casino San Clemente; the revitalization of downtown Anaheim including the renewal of Center St. Promenade. Currently his team is repurposing the Packing House and the Packard Building of Anaheim into a community based artisan food hall, including a new greenbelt, Farmers Park.

    Accolades include Community Revitalization and the Mayor’s Hall of Fame Award from the City of Costa Mesa and Developer of the Year from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.  Shaheen holds a BA degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Lisa Kristine

    Lisa Kristine


    Lisa Kristine, Humanitarian Photographer

    Acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine creates more than images, she inspires change. A master storyteller, Lisa documents indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries on six continents, instinctively identifying the universal human dignity in all of us. Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes—such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity—to missions. Her work resonates in the hearts of us all and moves us to act.

     Lisa has gained broad recognition for her collaboration with the NGO Free the Slaves. This breathtaking body of work, illuminating human enslavement, is brought together in Slavery, published in 2010. Lisa receives global attention across media platforms, including CNN and Reuters while also speaking at TED events, museums, NGO’s, business conferences, colleges and universities.

    Lisa was the sole exhibitor at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other award winning Nobel Laureates. Lisa has enabled new social and financial capital for the causes she champions. Christie’s New York, in celebration with Kofi Annan, has auctioned her images to benefit the United Nations. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Queen Mother of Bhutan and Amnesty International, have all endorsed her work. Her photographs inspired the Make a Stand Lemonade movement, which has raised more than a million and reached over 100 million people toward the eradication of slavery

    Lisa has published 5 books and has been the subject of 4 documentaries. Her work on Slavery will be featured in two films to be released in 2014. One of these films, SOLD the movie, made by Oscar Award winning team, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Brown, include a character inspired by Lisa and played by Gillian Anderson.

    Currently Lisa is producing two exhibitions, one entitled Enslaved, a visual story of modern day slavery, and the other Pillar of Spirit, which explores the living history of Bhutan in the face of modernity swiftly impacting its borders. Just as she hopes these bodies of work will inspire awareness and change, she continues to seek out projects in which her images can have a positive impact in our world.

    Lisa’s purpose-driven interactions with diverse cultures, her passion-driven sensitivities about the human condition, and her finely-tuned craft produce truthful, harmonious images of the beauty, suffering, compassion—and above all—the dignity of men, women and children around our world. Lisa Kristine awakens compassion and ignites action in us all.

  • Leya Aronoff

    Leya Aronoff


    View 2013 Talk

    Leya Aronoff is a 17 year old senior in high school. Besides sleeping in, her favorite activities are to travel and to produce content for her inspirational blog which has attracted thousands of followers.

    When Leya was two and a half years old she was diagnosed with autism. Since then her life has been a continuous struggle to catch up to her peers. When Leya was eight, she was treated with a revolutionary new treatment called Sensory Enrichment Therapy which enabled her to overcome the barriers that kept her behind. But even after Leya overcame the symptoms of autism, she did not find her “voice” until age 13, when she discovered poetry. Through poetry, Leya has opened a portal into the thoughts and struggles she experienced when she was autistic.

    Leya is aspiring to go to college to study neuroscience and help find the answers for why autism is on the rise, why sensory enrichment helped her, and how it could be used to help every affected child.

  • Rodney Mullen

    Rodney Mullen


    Rodney Mullen is widely considered to be the most influential skateboarder in skateboarding history. Mullen is a professional skateboarder, company owner, inventor, and public speaker who practices freestyle and street skateboarding. Mullen is credited with inventing numerous skateboarding tricks, including the flatground ollie, kickflip, heelflip, impossible, and 360-flip. Mullen has appeared in over 20 skateboarding videos and has co-authored an autobiography, entitled, “The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself,” with writer Sean Mortimer.

  • Kary Mullis

    Kary Mullis


    Kary received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993, for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The process, which Kary Mullis conceptualized in 1983, is hailed as one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century.



  • Cédric Villani

    Cédric Villani


    Cedric Villani’s research and work has won him many national and international prizes, in particular the Fields Medal, usually regarded as the most prestigious award in mathematics, which was given to him at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad (India), by the President of India. Since then he has served as a spokesperson for the mathematics community in media and political circles

    Born in 1973 in France, Cédric Villani studied mathematics in École Normale Supérieure in Paris, from 1992 to 1996, and spent four more years as assistant professor there.

    In 1998 he defended his PhD on the mathematical theory of the Boltzmann equation. Besides his advisor Pierre-Louis Lions (Paris, France), he was much influenced by Yann Brenier (Nice, France), Eric Carlen (Rutgers, USA) and Michel Ledoux (Toulouse, France).

    From 2000 to 2010 he was professor at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and now at the Université de Lyon. He occupied visiting professor positions in Atlanta, Berkeley and Princeton. Since 2009 he is director of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris; this 80-year old national institute, dedicated to welcoming visiting researchers, is at the very heart of french mathematics.

  • Johanna Blakley

    Johanna Blakley


    Johanna Blakley, PhD, is the managing director and director of research at the Norman Lear Center, a media think tank at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Johanna performs research on a wide variety of topics, including global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, entertainment education, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law. She has two talks on TED.comSocial Media & the End of Gender and Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture. In partnership with the Gates Foundation and the Knight Foundation, Johanna recently launched the Media Impact Project, a major new initiative devoted to finding the best ways to measure engagement with media and evaluate social impact.

  • Ken Arkind

    Ken Arkind


    Ken Arkind is an American National Poetry Slam Champion, Tedx Speaker, Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Champion and published author who has performed his work in 49 States, 6 countries and at over 150 colleges and universities. He is the current Executive Director of Denver Minor Disturbance, an independent literary arts organization dedicated to helping Colorado youth find voice through the mediums of poetry and performance and home to both the 2012 and 2013 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Champions.

    He is the author of “Denver” (Fast Geek Press, 2013), and the forthcoming “Walt Jabsco of Colfax Avenue” (Penmanship Books, 2013). He also makes an amazing Green Chile stew.

  • Sabeen Ali

    Sabeen Ali


    Sabeen Ali is the Co-Founder and COO of AngelHack. She is the brains and execution behind the world’s largest hackathon competition, in 35 cities globally this past spring and expanding to 50+ cities this fall. In a past life, Sabeen has been a consult for leadership and organizational development with Kaiser Permanente, Yahoo!, Peet’s Coffee, and Cisco. She founded her own training and development company, Team Building ROI, in the Bay Area in 2011 which she sold to begin AngelHack. She loves traveling and being a great mommy to her 2 daughters, Noor and Laila.

  • Robert E. Grant

    Robert E. Grant


    Robert Grant is Chief Executive Officer of Alphaeon

    For over 20 years, Mr. Grant has played a pivotal role in the development and success of products and technologies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare markets. He currently serves as Founder and Chairman of Strathspey Crown LLC, a growth equity firm based in Newport Beach, CA as well as CEO of Strathspey Crown’s principle operating company focused in lifestyle healthcare, ALPHAEON Corporation.

    He was formerly CEO and President of Bausch and Lomb Surgical. Prior to this, he led Allergan Medical as President from 2006 to 2010.

    Mr. Grant holds a BA from BYU and an MBA with Honors from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He has lived and worked in nine countries and speaks five languages fluently.

  • Cecilia Abadie

    Cecilia Abadie


    A passionate evangelizer about everything digital, Cecilia Abadie is a Google Glass Explorer and Pioneer who spreads the word about wearable devices and the many ways they can change our world. As the founder of 33Labs, she leads a global development team that researches and develops wearable and mobile applications to deliver experiences that innovate and disrupt the personal and the enterprise realms. Cecilia was born in Argentina and raised in Uruguay, which is where she got her Master Degree on Information Systems and where she began her career as an international software consultant and developer. She immigrated to the United States of America ten years ago and is currently living in Southern California.

  • Kevin Maggiacomo

    Kevin Maggiacomo


    Kevin Maggiacomo is a Boston-based international leader recognized for innovation and collaboration. He is the CEO of Sperry Van Ness (svn.com), named again in 2013 to Inc Magazine’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. He is also a Director of the global organization, Real Leaders a “B-Corporation” inspiring better leaders for a better world by using the power of business to solve social and environmental challenges in a financially sustainable way.

    He was named to OC Metro’s “40 under 40” list in 2010 and is a member of the international Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

  • Mel Rogers

    Mel Rogers


    President and CEO – PBS Socal

    Mel Rogers is a veteran of more than 25 years in public television.  A former radio and television journalist and program host, Rogers became a part of PBS in 1984 when he assumed the Station Manager position at KBYU TV in the Salt Lake City, UT television market.  Following 10 years of growth in viewership and revenues, including the creation of the popular Blue and White Sports Network, Rogers launched a media consulting firm assisting both commercial and non-commercial clients in many U.S. cities.  In 1997 Rogers became President and General Manger of OC based KOCE-TV, the station now known throughout Southern California as PBS SoCaL.  The road from KOCE, a station licensed to the Coast Community College District, to becoming an independent community licensee responsible for providing PBS to the entire 18 million person region, was fraught with peril.  When the District chose to sell KOCE, The KOCE-TV Foundation Board, led by Rogers, raised millions for a down payment that would enable the group to purchase the KOCE Broadcast License for the people of Orange County.  The next three years were spent defending that acquisition in court against a well-heeled national televangelist network that claimed the station should have been sold to them.  That issue was finally resolved just in time to experience the great recession of 2008 that brought a reduction in station revenues of 30 percent.  Rogers right-sized the operation and began its regrowth efforts when PBS and Los Angeles’ KCET parted ways.  KOCE stepped immediately into the breach and assumed the responsibility of providing PBS programs, services, and education throughout the region.  In the process, he lead a rebranding effort that created PBS SoCaL the new name for quality television that educates, enlightens and informs all of Southern California.  Today, from its new headquarters in Orange County, and a soon-to-be-completed, PBS SoCaL LA Center in Downtown Los Angeles, PBS SoCaL is growing rapidly toward becoming a top tier, major market, public media entity.  Rogers’ media leadership is also reflected in his six year stint as a member of the national PBS Board of Directors, Chairmanship of the California Public Television Stations Association, and the Utah Broadcasters’ Association.  He has also served on various business roundtables and non-profit boards.  He and Marcia, a college English professor, have been married for 36 years and have two adult children, both of whom are involved in academia

  • Max Cougar Oswald

    Max Cougar Oswald


    In 2012, Max earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Stanford’s Product Design Program, where he fell in love with the institution’s signature, empathy-driven design methodology. He has since chased his passion for human centered product innovation from Bejing to Los Angeles, designing toys, medical devices, and remote collaboration platforms along the way.

    Now, halfway through a 2-year Masters of Science degree in Stanford’s Mechanical Engineering Design Group, he is finding new ways to harness his creative energy towards creating impact.

    Max believes that great products foster an emotional response with their user, and behaviorally informed design can empower users to live up to their ideals without compromising their experience. This spring, Max teamed up with seven other design/engineering students to form the inaugural Interaction Design Team for Stanford’s Solar Decathlon project.

    Solar Decathlon is a national competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, in which twenty qualifying universities each design and build a 1,000 sq. ft. solar-powered home. Over the past three months, Max and his team have designed and manufactured a suite of innovative, sustainable household appliances for the house that allow users to develop their own sustainable lifestyle and become more aware of their role in the energy / water life cycle. Projects include a knee-operated sink that prevents accidental water waste, a dynamic installation art piece that responds to the house’s real-time energy consumption, and a capacitive, gesture-based “Roomswitch” that controls not only the lights but also the electrical outlets in every room.

    When he’s not sketching on a whiteboard or lasercutting a prototype, Max is doing improv comedy. He is a senior performer in Stanford’s improvisational acting troupe, the Simps, and he shows it with a demonstrable love for the stage and an infectious enthusiasm for everything he does

  • Gesine Thomson

    Gesine Thomson


    “By creating life through architecture, good architecture creates a platform for human wellbeing.”– Gesine Thomson

    Gesine Thomson is an internationally recognized Architect and Speaker specializing in large scale Community Planning and Sustainable Commercial Growth.

    She has worked on projects in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Korea, China, Japan and India.

    Mrs. Thomson believes in sharing her knowledge and experience in sustainable community planning and the creative process. She lectures extensively around the world.

    The heart of all of Gesine Thomson’s Architectural and Community Planning projects is set deeply in the roots of each culture and community.  While integrating thought breaking innovation to ensure a healthy environment for community growth and social stability, her work reaches into the heritage of each local region to allow a sense of belonging and purpose.  These elements are guided to enable a harmonious future existence for the population within their social and natural environments.

     “Creativity is a process of blending influences, dreams and realities.  This is how I strive to create projects which are timeless.”

    -Gesine Thomson



  • Sara Volz

    Sara Volz


    A senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School, Sara Volz, 17, was recognized in March as the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search winner. The U.S. competition recognizes the nation’s top young scientists. At the event Sara presented her ongoing work to improve algae biofuels.

    She says her ultimate goal is to “understand the universe” and remembers always being an avid reader (often late at night under the covers) and “fascinated by how things worked.” Sara grew up in Colorado going to science camps, national parks and on many outdoor family adventures which fostered an appreciation for the environment. A musical theatre aficionado from early on, Sara had her first of many paid roles at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at age 6. By age 11, she dreamed of performing on Broadway, but was also competing and winning events such as the local or state spelling bee, knowledge bowl, and geography bee. She read early and was always a year or two ahead in math (Now, she is taking college math since she has surpassed what her school offers.) She did her first science project in kindergarten (What Freezes First: Water, Milk or Juice?) but discovered the regional and state science fairs in 6th grade which finally allowed her to challenge herself in a way that school never did.

    In 7th grade she started investigating biodiesel as an alternative to fossil fuels, making her own diesel in the kitchen with various recycled vegetable oils, testing emissions and the next year, making a solar still in the backyard as she looked at different ways to improve the transesterification process. When she learned the drawbacks of conventional oil sources (low oil yields and pressure on land needed for food crops), she discovered the potential of algae as an oil source and began looking at ways to improve that possibility. She started out investigating nitrogen stress as a way to increase oil yields from algae and eventually tried to explore genetic manipulation, but given the limitations of being a high school student with limited lab access she decided she had to find another way to augment the oil yields. That’s when she thought of trying to manipulate natural methods to get the results she wanted: she learned a common herbicide attacks the enzyme she had been studying that is critical to algae’s oil metabolism. She decided to use that herbicide to kill off algae with low levels of the enzyme, leaving algae with higher levels of the enzyme and therefore, higher oil production. Her technique worked and subsequent testing has shown future cell lines to maintain the higher oil yields.

    Being the only kid in her school district pursuing independent science research, Sara’s work was never guided by her school or teachers. Instead, she read scientific literature, contacted researchers for advice and begged for lab access when needed. Initially, she built her own photobioreactor for algae culturing, then gradually accumulated supplies (flasks, micropipettes, centrifuge and microscope) for the algae lab she has built underneath her loft bed. This work has dominated her life for the last four years and helped her realize her passion for scientific inquiry. It’s the reason she’s colloquially known as the “algae girl” and recent birthday gifts have included an algae piñata, algae stuffed toys, DNA earrings and a hemocytometer. Sara has thoroughly enjoyed high school, a leader on her Science Bowl, Science Olympiad and Debate teams as well as in the drama department, even performing the lead role in the school’s play last fall.

    Her science awards include a first place category award at the International Science and Engineering Fair in both 2012 and 2011 as well as the Grand Award of the Hong Kong International Science Fair in 2011 and a first place at the 2013 National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. She won the Grand Award at the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair and at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair for 3 of the last 4 years. She is one the designees to attend this summer’s National Youth Science Camp.

    She plans to pursue scientific research, beginning her undergraduate work at MIT in the fall. While she thinks she will major in biochemistry or molecular biology, she wants to explore a variety of sciences as well as other passions along the way such as philosophy, mathematics and theatre. Sara is planning to get a PhD in her chosen field, hopefully help solve an important global problem through research and help mentor others as a professor. Already, she has started a science outreach program in her community encouraging students and teachers that more kids can do their own research. She says “science should be a verb – something you do,” and that there is a misconception in society about science: “It’s too often viewed as something complex and strange, shackled to a laboratory, when it’s really the process of questioning. Curiosity and stubborn determination to get your questions answered are the traits needed for science.”

  • Jeremy Hunter

    Jeremy Hunter


    Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D. is the great-grandson of a sumo wrestler as well as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management.

    His Executive Mind courses challenge leaders to relentlessly transform themselves to face the demands of complex and volatile world.   His work is informed by the experience of living day-to-day for 17 years with an incurable terminal illness.  When Hunter needed life-saving surgery, more than a dozen former students volunteered as organ donors.

    He has been voted Professor of the Year three times and featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.  He holds degrees from Wittenberg and Harvard Universities as well as the University of Chicago.

    He and his wife dutifully serve two house cats who live in Los Angeles.

  • Esther K. Chae

    Esther K. Chae

    Organization: HOST


    Esther K. Chae is an award-winning actor/writer and inaugural TED Fellow based in Los Angeles and New York. Her work has been performed in the U.S., Korea, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Russia, Italy and Nigeria.

    Her numerous credits as a performer include TV shows N.C.I.S., Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 24, The Shield, Night Stalker; theatre stages such as Yale Repertory Theater, La Mama, Mark Taper Forum/ Kirk Douglas Theater, P.S. 122 and Harvard/A.R.T.

    Chae’s performances have been lauded as “talented” (Variety), “engaging” (Hollywood Reporter) – and “the willowy actress [with] subtle physicality” (Los Angeles Times). Her life in Hollywood has been featured in a Korean Broadcasting Station (KBS) documentary.

    She conceived and wrote her solo performance “So the Arrow Flies,” about a North Korean spy and the FBI Agent who hunts her down.  It has been invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (“a powerful and compelling script… fascinatingly gripping” – ThreeWeeks Magazine), TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, World Women’s Forum (Seoul), CUNY’s Martin Segal Theater, New York University’s Performance Studies and Wellesley College to name a few.  Her script and developmental research for “So the Arrow Flies” was on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (2012) and now is in the process of being catalogued.

    Chae’s experience as a TED fellow has pushed her to innovate and rethink her artistic work.  She is now adapting her play into a feature film, fusing theater and digital film technology and looking for collaborators.

    Chae graduated from the Yale School of Drama with an MFA in Acting, the University of Michigan with an MA in Theater Studies, and Korea University. She was honored the King/Chavez/Parks Visiting Professorship at University of Michigan and served as keynote speaker for the Arts Council of Korea’s International Performing Arts Professional Series and visiting artist at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue founded by Anna Deavere Smith at Harvard University.

    Chae was born in Eugene, Oregon, grew up in Seoul, Korea and has traveled all over the world. She has trekked the Himalayan mountains (India 14,107 ft.), Machu Picchu (Peru) and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania 19,345 ft.).

  • Paul Weiss

    Paul Weiss


    Paul S. Weiss is director of the California NanoSystems Institute, Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences, and distinguished professor of chemistry & biochemistry and of materials science & engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his S.B. and S.M. degrees in chemistry from MIT in 1980 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986. He was a postdoctoral member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1986-1988 and a visiting scientist at IBM Almaden Research Center from 1988-1989. Before coming to UCLA in 2009, he was a distinguished professor of chemistry and physics at the Pennsylvania State University, where he began his academic career as an assistant professor in 1989. His interdisciplinary research group includes chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists, mathematicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, and computer scientists. Their work focuses on the atomic-scale chemical, physical, optical, mechanical and electronic properties of surfaces and supramolecular assemblies. He and his students have developed new techniques to expand the applicability and chemical specificity of scanning probe microscopies. They have applied these and other tools to the study of catalysis, self- and directed assembly, physical models of biological systems, and molecular and nanoscale devices. They work to advance nanofabrication down to ever smaller scales and greater chemical specificity in order to connect, to operate, and to test functional molecular assemblies, and to connect these to the biological and chemical worlds. Two current major themes in his laboratory are cooperativity in functional molecules and single-molecule biological structural and functional measurements. He has published over 300 papers and patents, and has given over 500 invited and plenary lectures.

    Weiss has been awarded a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award (1991-1996), the Scanning Microscopy International Presidential Scholarship (1994), the B. F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award (1994), an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1995-1997), the American Chemical Society Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry (1996), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1997), and a National Science Foundation Creativity Award (1997-1999), among others. He was elected a Fellow of:  the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2000), the American Physical Society (2002), the American Vacuum Society (2007), and the American Chemical Society (2010), and an Honorary Fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society (2010). He was also elected a senior member of the IEEE (2009). He received Penn State’s University Teaching Award from the Schreyer Honors College (2004), was named one of two Nanofabrication Fellows at Penn State (2005), and won the Alpha Chi Sigma Outstanding Professor Award (2007). He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Washington, Department of Molecular Biotechnology from 1996-1997 and at the Kyoto University, Electronic Science and Engineering Department and Venture Business Laboratory in 1998 and 2000. Weiss was a member of the U.S. National Committee to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (2000-2005). He has been the Technical Co-chair of the Foundations of Nanoscience Meetings, Thematic Chair of the Spring 2009 American Chemical Society National Meeting, and the Chair of the 2009 International Meeting on Molecular Electronics. He was the Senior Editor of IEEE Electron Device Letters for molecular and organic electronics (2005-2007), and is the founding Editor-in-Chief of ACS Nano (2007-). At ACS Nano, he won the Association of American Publishers, Professional Scholarly Publishing PROSE Award for 2008, Best New Journal in Science, Technology, and Medicine, and ISI’s Rising Star Award a record ten times.

  • Eyal Aronoff

    Eyal Aronoff


    View 2013 Talk

    Eyal Aronoff is a co-founder of Quest Software, that was sold to Dell for $2.4B, and co-founder of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, which is dedicated to ending America’s oil addiction by opening markets to cheaper, cleaner, healthier replacement fuels such as ethanol, methanol, natural gas and electricity.

    Aronoff earned his undergraduate degree summa cum laude in chemistry and computer science from Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. Working out of a one-bedroom apartment in Princeton University housing, Aronoff developed software programs and co-wrote a book on Oracle databases. When the opportunity came to join Vinny Smith in founding Quest Software, he moved to Orange County, CA. He now lives in Newport Beach, CA, with his wife Yael and their two children.

    Aronoff other passion is autism therapies. Aronoff is one of the largest donors for clinical trials of treatments for kids with autism particularly in the area of Sensory Enrichment Therapy. Eyal traces his interest in autism to the time his daughter Leya was diagnosed with autism at age two and a half. Today Leya is a vibrant 17 years old girl. Her autism is but a distant memory. The miracle that helped Leya is available at low cost at www.mendability.com

  • Niia Bertino

    Niia Bertino


    She has the carriage of a Bertolucci ingenue and the shyness of a schoolgirl. Niia, the Needham, Massachusetts native, was trained by her Italian-born mother in classical piano and began singing and performing at the age of 13.  At her Catholic girls’ school near Boston, she was cutting class to hide out in the chapel to play Rachmaninoff.

    She was invited to attend the Berklee College of Music at age fourteen. After high school, Niia went to New York City where she briefly attended New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music as a Jazz vocal major. While living in New York, Niia met producer Wyclef Jean who was immediately drawn to her raw and natural talent. Niia was a featured artist on his single, “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill),” which also featured Lil’ Wayne and Akon. Niia has toured around the world and performed with Wyclef most notably on VH1 Soul Stage, the Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the BET awards and MTV New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

    In 2011, Niia began performing The Best of 007 in New York. Backed by a 14 piece orchestra, Niia paid homage to the soundtrack of James Bond films including classics “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball”, and “The Spy Who Loved Me”. On February 12, 2013 Niia self-released “Made For You” and premiered the video, directed by Tony Kaye (American History X), on The Fader. She is currently working with Robin Hannibal on music for her first full-length album set for release later this year.  Check her website

  • Daniel Amen, MD

    Daniel Amen, MD

    Organization: Amen Clinics


    Physician, psychiatrist, and teacher, Daniel Amen, MD, is one of the world’s foremost experts on applying brain imaging science to clinical psychiatric practice. He is widely regarded as a gifted teacher, taking complex brain science concepts to make them easily accessible to other professionals and the general public.

  • Shira Lazar

    Shira Lazar


    Shira Lazar is the Host and Executive Producer of the  Emmy nominated  live interactive daily show show and 24/7 news hub,  “What’s Trending”. She is also the Host and Creator of the talk show of YouTube,  “Partners Project”, interviewing the biggest YouTube stars. Named one of Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Technology and Huffington Post’s “Women in Tech to follow on Twitter” , Shira has been the face of the biggest live-streams on the web including, The Oscars and The Grammys among many others. Lazar is a Webby Awards Honoree and 2 time IAWTV Winner For Best Web Series Live Host.

    A digital trailblazer, she speaks at conferences around the world, is a regular contributor on The Huffington Post and appears frequently on networks like Bloomberg TV, CNN and Fox News Channel discussing Internet culture and digital trends. You can read Shira’s weekly posts covering the intersection of business and social media on Entrepreneur.com.

  • Adrianna Svitak

    Adrianna Svitak


    Piano and violin performer

    17-year-old Adrianna Svitak employs over a decade’s worth of experience in piano and violin to create artistic experiences influenced by both classical music and the avant-garde. She has also co-published a poetry book “Dancing Fingers” with her sister Adora Svitak.

    Adrianna’s senior year of high school was spent studying classical piano at Interlochen Arts Academy. During this time, she auditioned for a multitude of music conservatories–she is now a student of Dr. Philip Kawin’s at Manhattan School of Music.

    For piano, she has received numerous awards from competitions including the Seattle Young Artists’ Festival, MTNA (Music Teachers’ National Association), the Northwest Chopin Festival, and the October Bach Festival. Adrianna has also performed piano internationally at events including Ciudad de Las Ideas, the INK Conference, and several TEDx conferences across the nation.

    On violin, Adrianna held the coveted position of “concert-mistress” of her local school orchestra for the duration of her time there. In 9th grade, she was also concertmistress of the Junior All-State Orchestra in Washington State. Following that, Adrianna participated in WMEA All-State, and subsequently auditioned into WMEA All-NorthWest.

    When she’s not practicing piano, she’s practicing violin. When she’s not practicing violin, she enjoys an array of activities, including writing poetry, sketching faces, reading (David Sedaris) vignettes and VICE, and listening to entire Michael Jackson albums in one sitting.

    She is also a devout supporter of feminism and veganism.

  • Mike Ferrara

    Mike Ferrara


    Mike Ferrara is the tireless leader for the Adlens® Group of companies. Mike has a track-record in driving rapid growth and performance improvements, having worked in the fields of biotechnology, retail and consumer products, office furniture and instrumentation solutions. As former CEO and President of Microfluidics International Corporation he achieved double-digit growth in three years. As CEO of X-Rite Inc. he led the corporation’s re-emergence as the global leader of its industry, and as CEO of Marine Optical Ltd, a CitiCorp Venture Capital equity company, he doubled the business in eight years. Mr. Ferrara has a degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University and has received executive management certificates from Harvard Business School and Carnegie Mellon University. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Villanova University’s School of Engineering.

  • Elizabeth Loftus

    Elizabeth Loftus


    Elizabeth Loftus studies human memory. Her experiments reveal how memories can be changed by things that we are told. Facts, ideas, suggestions and other post-event information can modify our memories. The legal field, so reliant on memories, has been a significant application of the memory research. Loftus is also interested in psychology and law, more generally.

  • Nicole Mitchell

    Nicole Mitchell


    Nicole Mitchell is a creative flutist, composer, bandleader and educator.  As the founder of Black Earth Ensemble, Black Earth Strings, Ice Crystal and Sonic Projections, Mitchell has been repeatedly awarded by DownBeat Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association as “Top Flutist of the Year” for the last three years. Mitchell’s music celebrates African American culture while reaching across genres and integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of jazz, gospel, experimentalism, pop and African percussion through albums such as Black Unstoppable(Delmark, 2007), Awakening (Delmark, 2011), and Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12, 2008), which received commissioning support from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works.

    Mitchell formerly served as the first woman president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and has been a member since 1995. In recognition of her impact within the Chicago music and arts education communities, she was named “Chicagoan of the Year” in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. With her ensembles, as a featured flutist and composer, Mitchell has been a highlight at festivals and art venues throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

    Ms. Mitchell is a recipient of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts (2011) and has been commissioned by Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Chicago Sinfonietta Orchestra and Maggio Fiorentino Chamber Orchestra (Florence, Italy).  In 2009, she created Honoring Grace: Michelle Obama for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. She has been a faculty member at the Vancouver Creative Music Institute, the Sherwood Flute Institute, Banff International Jazz Workshop and the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio, and in magazines including Ebony, Downbeat, JazzIz, Jazz Times, Jazz Wise, andAmerican Legacy.

    Nicole MItchell is currently an assistant professor of music, teaching in “Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology,” a new and expansively-minded graduate program at the University of California, Irvine. Her recent composition, Flight for Freedom for Creative Flute and Orchestra, a Tribute to Harriet Tubman, premiered with the Chicago Composers’ Orchestra in December 2011.

    Among the first class of Doris Duke Artists (2012), Mitchell works to raise respect and integrity for the improvised flute, to contribute her innovative voice to the jazz legacy, and to continue the bold and exciting directions that the AACM has charted for decades.  With contemporary ensembles of varying instrumentation and size (from solo to orchestra), Mitchell’s mission is to celebrate the power of endless possibility by “creating visionary worlds through music that bridge the familiar and the unknown.” She is endorsed by Powell flutes. 

  • Poet Ali

    Poet Ali


    Poet Ali is a unique speaker, performer, and writer whose eclectic upbringing has led him down many roads. As a speaker for, Rachel’s Challenge (The largest assembly program in the United States) whose goal is to create a Chain Reaction of kindness and compassion through the life and legacy of Rachel Joy Scott (the first person killed in the Columbine shooting), he has spoken to over 150,000 people in live settings.

    As a performer, he has been taken the stage with Christina Milian, The Dream, Mos Def, Colbie Caillat, Digital Underground, and One Republic to name a few.

    And as a writer, Poet pours relatable experiences into a mystic poetry that weaves through the most boom bap of underground hip hop records all the while engaging a charisma and wit that glides over commercial records with poise.

  • Rick Reiff

    Rick Reiff

    Organization: HOST


    Rick Reiff is the host and executive producer of “SoCal Insider with Rick Reiff,” a weekly Golden Mike-winning public affairs program on the Los Angeles region’s PBS flagship station, PBS SoCal (KOCE-TV.)

    He is the longtime executive editor of the Orange County Business Journal, California’s second largest business weekly. In 2012 he ended a 15-year run as author of the paper’s popular “OC Insider” column. In addition, he is a media professor at Chapman University and a public speaker.

    Reiff has received a Pulitzer Prize and two Golden Mike Awards, distinguishing him in both print and broadcast journalism.

    He was a staff writer with Forbes magazine and a reporter at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, where he was the lead reporter on a team that won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Goodyear’s battle with a corporate raider. Reiff is a native of Chicago and a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

    Rick is married to Mary Ann Brown, executive vice president of Pacific Life Insurance Co. He has a daughter, Jennie Reiff; a son-in-law, OC Fire Authority Capt. Steve Miller; and three Miller grandchildren, Elias, Anna and Oliver

  • JazzXchange



    In 1992 Sheron Wray visited New York from her native city of London and upon her return JazzXchange was born; a vision to reunite dance and music was its mission. After an introduction to Wynton Marsalis and collaboration with his septet in 2003, it became clear that to fully realize JazzXchange it would be necessary to bring it to America. After tours, sponsorships, residencies and successful collaborations, six years on Sheron joined UC Irvine’s dance faculty. Here she initiated The Ghana Project affirming the epic memory of Africa within jazz. In 2010 seventeen UCI students visited Ghana in West Africa, and in 2013 Sheron and five graduates came together to realize a new international vision of JazzXchange.

  • John Jolliffe

    John Jolliffe

    Organization: HOST and TEDxChallenge Prize


    Fifteen years as syndicated daily radio broadcaster, John Jolliffe maintains a busy international Psychotherapy and Consultancy Practice.

    He maintains the largest counseling and advice archive on the Internet – with over 12,000 call-in counseling segments – www.TheIssuesofLife.net

    He joins us again this year as one of our host of TEDxOrangeCoast 2013.
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