Click below to view speaker bios, program scheduling, sponsors, and media from past conferences.


Speaker Bios


Photo Gallery



Speaker Bios

Program Schedule

Photo Gallery



Photo Gallery


Speakers Bios

Program Schedule


Photo Gallery



Speaker Bios

Program Schedule


TEDxNorthwesternU 2016: Beyond Boundaries

TEDxNorthwesternU 2016: Beyond Boundaries

TEDxNothwesternU 2016: Beyond Boundaries is all about the creativity and ingenuity that drives innovation at Northwestern and around the world.  Explore what it means to invent the next big thing, surpass great expectations, unite the divided, and shatter limitations.


RodriguezCarl Rodriguez

Listening to Einstein’s Final Symphony

Carl Rodriguez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University. His research focuses on how dense star clusters act like factories for black holes, crashing them into each other with phenomenal energy. Carl’s TEDx talk will describe how binary black holes are forged in the cores of star clusters, and how we can “hear” them collide with a new type of telescope designed to listen to tiny vibrations in the fabric of spacetime itself. Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, Carl earned his B.A. in Physics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, before starting his Ph.D. at Northwestern. He is a recipient of a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, and will be joining MIT next year as a Pappalardo Fellow in Physics. When not working on black holes, Carl can be found either climbing or backpacking through the wilderness.

AlstonKori Alston

Hip Hop and Theatre: A Potential Symbiosis

Kori Alston is a sophomore theatre major and Spanish minor with a concentration in playwriting at Northwestern. He was born and raised in the Berkshires but attended an arts high school in Boston where theatre became an integral part of his life. His play, The Alexander Litany, was featured in the Vertigo Productions Winter Reading Series in January and his ten-minute play, Poplar and Rope, was featured as a part of Vertigo’s Ten Minute Play Festival. He has played Mika in a Wirtz Center production of Ike Holter’s Hit the Wall and can be seen as Ferdinand in the Wirtz Center’s upcoming production of The Tempest. He considers himself a student of hip-hop and aims to incorporate hip-hop/rap styles and forms in his work. His TED talk focuses on the intersection of hip-hop and theatre and the potential and necessary symbiotic relationship that could exist between the two art forms.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.01.51 PM

Laronda_2016Monica Laronda

Form Follows Fertility: Innovations in Complex Tissue Engineering

Monica Laronda, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Monica’s TEDx talk will describe current innovations at NU that advances the state of tissue engineering that has been stalled at the production of simple tissue constructs, like skin. Monica collaborates with materials scientists and engineers to advance beyond the boundaries of single scaffold layers with single cell types to complex organs with multiple compartments and several unique cells working synchronously to orchestrate organ function. Monica uses intelligently designed bioactive scaffolds and stem cells toward developing personalized ovary replacements. She envisions this research beyond the bench to the patient by developing clinical-grade techniques. Monica received her Ph.D. from the Integrated Graduate Program at Northwestern University and was recently awarded the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface that will fund her transition into independent academic research. Monica is currently applying for a tenure-track professor positions.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.01.51 PM

Eureka Foong_TEDx profile originalEureka Foong

Don’t start with the solution: What hackathons can tell us about solving big problems

Eureka Foong is a Ph.D. student in Technology and Social Behavior, a joint program in computer science and communication at Northwestern University. She received her B.A. degree in psychology and media studies from Linfield College in Oregon. Prior to joining Northwestern, Eureka led user research at Piktochart, an online infographic tool for non-designers. She currently studies how people collaboratively solve problems at civic hackathons, events where experts in technology, data science, design and community issues rapidly create solutions to social problems. Her TEDx talk is about the global growth of these hackathons, as well as their drawbacks. This is Eureka’s second TEDx talk. When not engaged in research, Eureka can be found contemplating the taste of home cooked Malaysian food.


Sean Oliver

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Word Fight

Sean Oliver is a senior at Northwestern double-majoring in the fields of Economics and Communication studies, with a career focus on business. Sean’s TEDxNorthwesternU talk centers around the importance of speech and communication in catalyzing self-empowerment and societal change. Before signing with the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, Sean was a speech and debate coach at Evanston Township High School as well as a competitive debater during his high school years in Plano, Texas, earning top speaker of Public Forum Debate at the 2012 Harvard National Forensics Tournament. He is also a former Northwestern football player and is currently involved in rugby, boxing and Northwestern’s business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.01.51 PM

AnsariHeba Ansari

How to impact the world and make money

Heba is an Associate at The Boston Consulting Group and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Her passion lies in using the intersection of the private and public sector to solve our world’s biggest problems. In particular she has a passion for digital innovation, efficiency, and operations. Her study of the coordination of public and private sectors extends to the US, Latin America, and Africa. In her free time Heba enjoys learning about new social entrepreneurship ventures and trying new cuisines. Heba’s TEDx talk will discuss how anyone can have a career that “saves the world” and makes money.


Janesh Rahlan

Lost in Translation: The Importance of Language in Cultural Exchange

Janesh Rahlan is a 2014 Northwestern grad in Economics and Political Science. Immediately after graduation he spent a year in Turkey as a Fulbright Scholar and now works in Strategy and Analytics at LinkedIn. His TedXNorthwesternU talk focuses on the importance of language learning as a means to bridge cultures and enhance experiences abroad. When not at work, he can be found reading about economic inequality and international affairs, or spending an inordinate amount of time trying to dissect rap lyrics and come up with what he thinks are witty one-liners.Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.01.51 PM

Kelleher PhotoNeil Kelleher

A Plan to Weigh Every Protein in the Human Body: The Cell- Based Human Proteome Project

Since 2011, Dr. Kelleher has served as the director of the Proteomics Center of Excellence at Northwestern University, where dozens of Northwestern laboratories are supported and beyond state-of-the-art in Top Down proteomics is developed. Dr. Kelleher was elected Treasurer of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry in 2012 and established the Consortium for Top Down Proteomics that same year. With more than 200 papers published over the course of his career and teaching duties in two departments, Dr. Kelleher is a trans-disciplinary investigator with visible streaks of international impact in mass spectrometry-based proteomics and the discovery of new natural products from the microbial world. Validation of protein-based biomarkers in organ transplantation and cancers of the blood are among the focused areas currently being pursued in clinical research at Northwestern.

Anna Professional TedXAnna Bethune

Yes Girls Can! Social Impact through Tech Empowerment

Anna Bethune is a 3rd year PhD student in the School of Education and Social Policy. She enjoys discussing and thinking about the systemic problems faced by developing countries, like Jamaica, and the ways in which education and technology further social inclusion and development. Anna is currently exploring youth civic engagement, civic tech, design-based research, and student activist groups of color. Anna also co-founded Brave Initiatives, a non-profit that encourages high school girls to view themselves as agents of change. Brave Initiatives offers a 5 day camp that teaches coding, design-thinking, public speaking and leadership. She received a BA in economics from Stanford University and previously worked as an economics researcher and as a program coordinator at a start-up in Silicon Valley.

Rehak_810_6234Jay Rehak

Creating a Class-Sourced Novel: an Exercise in Collaboration and Empathy

Jay Rehak is an English instructor at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School where he teaches sophomore Honors English Literature, as well as Senior Honors Broadcast and Print Journalism. His students produce a weekly television show, a bi-monthly newspaper and two to four novels each year. A teacher for the past thirty years, Jay has written and published nine novels with his students in the past three years. The “father” of class-sourced novels, Jay focuses his TEDx talk on this exciting new genre of literature. Jay’s TEDx talk details the magic of collaborating with his students on the world’s first high school class-sourced novels. His first such collaboration, 30 Day to Empathy won the Chicago Writer’s Association 2013 Book of the Year for Non-Traditional Literature. His subsequent collaborations, four versions of Someone Else’s Shoes and four versions of The Absolutely Awesome Adventures of Internet Ed are to be followed by two versions of The Long, Strange Trip of Augie Stone, due out in June 2016. Jay received his B.A. degree in Honors English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and his M.S. Ed from Northern Illinois University. Jay was also the recipient of the 2014 Chicago Public Schools Technology Innovator of the Year Award and is the current sponsor of the TED Talks Club at Whitney Young.

Dan IvankovichDaniel Ivankovich

Transforming Chicago: OnePatient At A Time

Daniel Anthony Ivankovich MD is an American orthopedic surgeon, humanitarian, media personality and blues musician from Chicago, Illinois where he is known for his advocacy on behalf of the inner city’s under-served. He is medical director and co-founder of OnePatient – Global Health Initiative, a Chicago based non-profit foundation created “to treat patients…who have musculoskeletal health disorders, regardless of their ability to pay.” Ivankovich attended Northwestern University, received his doctor of medicine from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and postgraduate training at Rush University Medical Center, with additional fellowship training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Dr. Dan was named NASW’s Citizen of the Year for Chicago & Illinois in 2010, Chicago Magazine named him Chicagoan of the Year in 2011. In 2013 he received the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation’s Inspiration Award and in 2015, he was named a CNN Hero and finalist for CNN “Hero of The Year.”


Photo Gallery

All - Poster


TEDxNorthwesternU is made possible by the generosity of our partners. Sponsors for the 2016 TEDxNorthwesternU conference include:

Trader JoesKINDNU Alumni (2)

MEDILLfarley+center+logoSESP NewNorthwestern dean and provost

TEDxNorthwesternU 2015: BEAUTIFUL CHAOS

Speaker Bios

img_20150314_224434Archit Baskaran

A Tale of Two Melodies: Exploring the Western and Indian Classical Music

Archit Baskaran is a freshman in the Honors Program in Medical Education through Northwestern University and the Feinberg School of Medicine. As a high school student, he cofounded a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called MusiLinks which is still currently in operation and works with music volunteer groups to mobilize youth for medical and music/dance-related charity. Additionally, as an avid public speaker and debater, he was a 5-time Wisconsin State Champion and ranked with his team among the Top 16 Teams in the World of rite International Public Policy Forum Competition via the Bickel & Brewer Law Foundation.

bt-walmart-profile-picEmily Gipple

Don’t Run Out of Chocolate

Emily Gipple is finishing up her MBA at Kellogg. Prior to joining the Northwestern community, Emily worked as a management/strategy consultant with Oliver Wyman, helped launch a nonprofit water well drilling company in South Sudan, forecasted trends fro a small defense contracting firm, wrote stories as a data reporter with a DC-based newspaper, and interned with the Emerging Markets group at Nike. Her experience across sectors got her thinking: how can organizations work together to leverage their expertise to better tackle business issues, thereby addressing social issues? She is pursuing an MBA to better understand how businesses can partner with nonprofits to address needs and manage risks in their operational activities. Emily holds a B.A. and B.B.A. from Southern Methodist University and is originally from Kansas City, home of, without any doubt, the best barbecue in the world.

jc-300x200JC Kibbey

Your Brain on Climate Change

J.C. Kibbey develops campaign strategy as a Public Policy Researcher with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and advocates on climate and clean energy issues as a board member of the Illinois Sierra Club. His previous work includes electoral campaigns, digital strategy and legislative affairs. He holds a master’s in public policy and administration from Northwestern University, where his thesis on the policy and politics of climate change received a 2015 Distinguished Thesis Award. His talk “Chaotic Brains, Chaotic Climate” draws on research from his thesis to explore how behavioral bias distorts our view of climate change, and how effective communication about climate can help counter those biases. He likes sci-fi, biking, and black coffee.

rtr-ball-tedxnu-headshotRicardo Rosenkranz

Medicine is a Performance Art: What magic and medicine have taught me

Dr. Ricardo T. Rosenkranz, MD, will be speaking on medicine as a performance art, and the overlap between medicine and magic in a doctor-patient relationship. Ricardo is an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He developed a course on Medicine and Magic which he teaches to first and second year medical students. He also regularly teaches a course on Magic and Medicine in Las Vegas. Ricardo’s favorite movies are Casablanca and Moonstruck, and he loves to photograph wildlife and ride road bikes. A fun fact about Ricardo–he is an avid magician and is preparing a one-man show that will debut this fall in Chicago!

christian_aymar-jean_newAymar Jean Christian, PhD

Open TV: Developing Television for Indie Arts and Artists

Aymar Jean Chrisitan is assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University. His manuscript, Open TV, explores the web series market as a space of innovation independent traditional television production and distribution. His work has been published in scholarly journals Continuum, Cinema Journal, Transformative Works & Cultures, and Journal of Communication Inquiry. He is head of development for Open TV, a platform for queer, trans-and cis-women and artists of color. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

iowa-headshotDaphna Weinstock

It’s a difference, not a deficit

Diaphan Weinstock, a theatre major at Northwestern, will be graduating this spring with a focus on theatre education and a module in Theatre for Young Audiences. Daphna has brought her knowledge from the classroom and experience with theatre companies across Chicago to her student group, Seesaw Theatre, where she directed this past year’s production of In The Game. Daphna, along with her fellow theatre artists, has used Seesaw as a platform for taking apart the typical theatre experience and redesigning it for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other cognitive differences. Through this work, Daphna has become passionate about creating spaces for diversity and inclusion in the arts by celebrating what makes every individual unique. Thanks to TED, TEDxNU, and to all of you for hearing her idea worth spreading!

steve-reed-headshot-for-tedxnorthwesternuSteve Reed

How to Order Pizza Like a Lawyer and Other Ways Legal Thinking Can Improve Your Life

Steve Reed is a Clinical Professor of Law, the Assistant Director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center, and Co-Director of the JD-MBA program at Northwestern University School of Law. In the clinical program of the Entrepreneurship Law Center, Reed works with students to represent start-ups, more mature companies and social entrepreneurs in a variety of transactional matters. In the classroom, he teaches Business Associations, Advanced Corporate Law, and Mergers & Acquisitions, and co-teaches Entrepreneurship Law. Reed also co-teaches Law and the Entrepreneur, a Massive Open Online Course offered by Northwestern University and Coursera that attracted over 35,00o students worldwide in its first session.

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 12.43.08 AM.pngUmang Jian

Boston Strong: The Medical Response to the Bombings

Umong graduated from NU in 2012, and is currently a fourth year medical student at Feinberg School of Medicine. Umang’s global health experiences stems from his work in Global Strategy and Developing Countries at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston, MA. He worked closely with Dr. Donald Berwick (former CMS administrator under Barack Obama) and Sir Nigel Crisp (former Chief Executive of UK’s NHS) on engaging in evidence-based healthcare improvement interventions on a global scale. Umang will train in a community hospital in South Africa in February 2016.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBrian Aguado

Implantable Materials for Cancer Detection

Brian Aguado is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering department at Northwestern University in the McCormick School of Engineering with a research focus in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. Brian’s TEDxtalk is about using implantable materials for the early detection of cancer metastasis. The implantable material acts like a “bait car” and lures tumor cells away from target organs for detection. He received his B.S. degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University and his M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Brian is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Biotechnology Training Program Fellowship. Brian is also a web writer for the Biomaterials Science blog and Helix Magazine and is currently organizing the ComSciCon-Chicago science communication workshop to be held in the summer of 2015 at Northwestern.

wong_helenHelen Wong

From Gold Coins to Bitcoins

Helen Wong was born and raised in the south side of Chicago. Currently, she is an attorney for the U.S. government at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Her work focuses on consumer protection issues involving financial technology, including emerging payment platforms and virtual currencies. Prior to the FTC, she was an attorney at the law firm of White and Case. After graduating Northwestern, Helen’s first job was a consultant for Accenture.

karllebanon-2_small_300x200pixKarl Muth

Feeling Lucky? Your Next Search

Karl joined Northwestern in 2012 and is a Lecturer in Economics, Organizational Behavior, Public Policy, and Statistics at Northwestern and the inaugural SEI fellow at the University of Chicago. He earned J.D. and M.B.A. degrees in America prior to writing his M.Phil/PhD. in England at the London School of Economics. In his consulting work, Karl advises companies on how to run large experiments, visualize complex data, and utilize mathematical models. His TEDxNorthwesternU talk focuses on observing how people spend their time as a way to understand them; this is Karl’s second TEDx talk. When not teaching or consulting, Karl can be found turning wrenches under the hood of an old brown Jaguar

scottely-color-300x200Scott Ely

Free Your Mind to Evolve Faster: Reboot, Rewire & Rethink

Since Graduating NU (MSIT99), Scott Ely has been in nonstop evolution as an entrepreneur, author, explorer, musician, and mind-hacker. His journey to over 50 countries, founding of multiple businesses, and conducting of over 100 challenging life-experiments now culminates in the creation of systems to help people rapidly reboot, rewire, and rethink the way they live and work. His TEDxtalk is themed around his book Evolve Faster, a manifesto to hit the philosophical reset button and free our minds in preparation for what he calls society’s Next Evolution. Scott lives in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood where he can likely be found reading, writing, performing with his band, hacking startup ventures, and constantly upgrading through life experiments and travel.

Program Schedule

10:00am – CONTRASTS

Archit Baskaran  A Tale of Two Melodies: Exploring the Western and Indian Classical Music

Emily GippleDon’t Run Out of Chocolate

JC KibbeyYour Brain on Climate Change

Ricardo Rosenkranz – Medicine is a Performance Art: What magic and medicine have taught me


Aymar Jean ChrsitianOpen TV: Developing Television for Indie Arts and Artists

Daphna WeinstockIt’s a Difference, Not a Deficit

Steve ReedHow to Order Pizza Like a Lawyer and Other Ways Legal Thinking Can Improve Your Life

Umong JainBoston Strong: The Medical Response to the Bombings


Brian Aguado Implantable Materials for Cancer Detection

Helen WongFrom Gold Coins to Bitcoins

Karl MuthFeeling Lucky? Your Next Search

Scott ElyFree Your Mind to Evolve Faster: Reboot, Rewire & Rethink

Photo Gallery


Northwestern University

NU School of Education and Social Policy

NU Medill School of Journalism

NU Weinberge College of Arts and Sciences

NU Alumni Association


Photo Gallery


The Institute for Women’s Health Research at Northwestern University

Northwestern University ITA&RT Advanced Media Production Studio

Office of the Dean, Kellogg School of Management

The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute

TEDxNorthwesternU 2010



Alice Dreger, PhD, is a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. For seven years, she served as chair of the board and director of medical education for the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), a non-profit policy and advocacy organization for people born with atypical sex. Dreger’s scholarship and patient advocacy have focused on the social and medical treatment of people born with norm-challenging body types, including intersex, conjoinment, dwarfism, and cleft lip. She has frequently collaborated with health care professionals on improving the care of families with children whose bodies vary from the average.

Dreger is the author of numerous medical and medical humanities articles and has published three books, including two with Harvard University Press, most recently One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal, which has received positive reviews in the New YorkerNature, the London Review of Books, and the New England Journal of MedicineOne of Us was also named the book of the month by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Her essay “Lavish Dwarf Entertainment” was chosen for Norton’s Best Creative Non-Fiction volume of 2009. Dreger’s essays on science, medicine, and life have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. She has appeared on dozens of broadcasts, including Good Morning America, HBO, Discovery Health, National Public Radio, CNN International, ESPN, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. She is a regular columnist for the Hastings Center’s Bioethics Forum, and a blogger for Psychology Today. Under the auspices of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently completing a book on science and identity politics in the Internet Age.


Rick Kittles, PhD, received a BS in biology from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989 and a PhD in biological sciences from George Washington University in 1998. He then helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. Currently, Kittles is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), as well as the associate director of the UIC Cancer Center.

Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. He has also been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be used to map genes for common traits and disease. His work on tracing the genetic ancestry of African Americans has brought light to many issues, new and old, which relate to race, ancestry, identity, and group membership.

Kittles’ high profile research and his strong ability to communicate genetic concepts and issues eloquently and understandably to the lay public has been featured over the past decade in five PBS and BBC network documentaries related to human biological diversity, race and disease. His work has been featured on CNN and the CBS show 60 Minutes where he was interviewed by Leslie Stahl. In addition to his research, he is scientific director and co-founder of African Ancestry, Inc., a private company that provides DNA testing services for tracing African genetic lineages to genealogists and the general public around the world. Kittles has published more than 85 research articles on prostate cancer in the African American population, race and genetics, and health disparities.

Program Schedule, December 15, 2010

7:00 – Welcome
Michael Kennedy, PhD; Northwestern University

7:05 – TED video talk

7:25 – “The Biology of Race in the Absence of Biological Races”, Rick Kittles, PhD; Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago 

Defining “race” continues to be a nemesis. Knowledge from human genetic research is increasingly challenging the notion that race and biology are inextricably linked, engendering tremendous ramifications for human relations, identity and public health. It has become fashionable for geneticists and anthropologists to declare that race is a social construction. However, there is little practical value to this belief since few in the public believe and act on it. Thus race is mainly a social concept which in the US has been based on skin color and ancestry. Yet biomedical studies continue to examine black/ white differences. I will discuss why using race in biomedical studies is problematic using examples from U.S. groups which transcend “racial” boundaries and bear the burden of health disparities.

7:45 – TED video talk

8:05 – “Democracy After Anatomy”, Alice Dreger, PhD; Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

America’s democratic institutions have historically been restricted – and then opened up – based on appeals to anatomy. Voting, for one, was first essentially restricted to white men. Over time, groups with other anatomies struggled their way into being seen as “created equal.” Civil rights movements of all sorts – for sex equality, racial equality, dis/ability equality – have tended to be based on the idea that our common anatomy is more important than our anatomical differences. Yet even today, many legal restrictions are based on anatomical distinctions: age in voting and drinking, viability in abortion and withdrawal of life support, and sex where marriage and the draft are concerned.

As our democracy has matured, it has still retained an ancient reliance on anatomy as deeply meaningful. Yet at the same time, science has been dissolving the bright lines between anatomical categories. So what’s next? What could – what will – democracy look like after anatomy?

8:25 – Close and reception