La Jolla, California - New York Times bestselling author and physicist David Brin, angel investor and Red Cross instructor Kai Chang and Miss California 2013 Crystal Lee are among the speakers selected to present at the 2014 TEDxUCSD. Now in its second year, the on-campus event will bring together 15 leading thinkers and doers from across multiple fields many of whom are affiliated with UC San Diego to engage the campus community with “ideas worth spreading.”
The event takes place Saturday, May 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UC San Diego Mandell Weiss Theatre at La Jolla Playhouse and is open to the public.
“TEDxUCSD is an exciting opportunity for our community to learn from innovative individuals who are making a difference in the world, including several of our own faculty, students and alumni,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “It’s a testament to the caliber and engagement of our students that they have undertaken the work of organizing this conference for the second year in a row.”
TED is a U.S.-based nonprofit that organizes two conferences each year with presentations by thought leaders from around the world. The talks, which are limited to 18 minutes or less, are then posted online. TEDx (“x” meaning independently organized) strives to provide similar experiences within local communities.
A student-run initiative, TEDxUCSD is organized by a team of 20 UC San Diego students who share an enthusiasm for TED talks. This year’s theme, “The Power of One, the Power of Many” aims to celebrate individual accomplishments as well as highlight collaboration and the power of collective intellectual capital.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of TED,” said Danny Smith, a senior studying management science and co-director of TEDxUCSD. “I wanted to take this opportunity to spread awareness, inspire and motivate other students.”
The process of organizing TEDxUCSD has been an educational and inspiring endeavor in itself, noted Smith. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people. Each person on our team comes from a different background, and we’ve gotten to work with amazing speakers, collaborative sponsors and campus administrators to make TEDxUCSD happen. I’ve learned a lot about working with a team and being collaborative.”
Michael Tsai, a graduate student at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, was following a mentor’s advice to “be part of something that’s greater than yourself” when he signed on as co-director of TEDxUCSD.
“I hope that students will be inspired to get involved outside of the classroom, and seek out opportunities to do something they are passionate about,” said Tsai. “I hope students will realize there’s a lot more they’re capable of doing.”
The lineup of speakers for TEDxUCSD includes UC San Diego alumni, faculty and students as well as thought-leaders from around the country. The organizers are releasing the names of speakers in phases; the first five to be announced are:
- David Brin, physicist and author – David Brin, who earned his Ph.D. from UC San Diego in 1981, is a scientist, inventor and New York Times bestselling author. With books translated into 25 languages, he has won multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. As a scientist/futurist, Brin is seen frequently on television shows such as “The ArchiTechs,” “Universe” and “Life After People,” with frequent appearances on PBS, BBC and NPR.
- Kai Chang, technology leader – Kai Chang graduated from UC San Diego in 1997 and joined Montgomery Securities as an investment banking analyst in their mergers and acquisitions department. Since then, he has worked as a recruiter for the financial services industry in Hong Kong, and served as a competitive intelligence/market research consultant in Silicon Valley.
- Crystal Lee, Miss California – Crystal Lee earned two degrees from Stanford University (a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a master’s degree in communication) and is the reigning Miss California 2013 as well as 1st Runner-Up of the 2014 Miss America Pageant. Lee is an advocate for education, public service and empowering women to pursue STEM education and careers.
- Stephen Foster, computer scientist – Stephen Foster spent 12 years in the Middle East as a child before immigrating to rural Louisiana. He received his master’s degree in computer science from UC San Diego in 2013 and is now finishing his Ph.D. In 2012, he co-founded ThoughtSTEM, an educational technology startup for teaching computer science. He currently serves as CEO of ThoughtSTEM.
- Kevin Lewis, sociologist – A 2005 UC San Diego alumnus and current faculty member, Kevin Lewis is researching the formation and evolution of social networks. Specifically, his work includes studying the micro-mechanisms of social interaction that give rise to observed network patterns as well as the implications of these processes for the genesis and reproduction of inequality.
The remaining presenters will be announced in the final weeks leading up to the May 10 event. New this year, UC San Diego students were invited to nominate speakers via an online form. According to Smith and Tsai, a few of those nominations were selected for the event.