Dr. Subra Suresh graduated from high school at 15, was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the director of the NSF (National Science Foundation) in September 2010 and Carnegie Mellon's ninth president. A distinguished engineer and scientist, Suresh is the first and only university president to be elected to all three National Academies — the National Academy of Medicine (2013), the National Academy of Sciences (2012) and the National Academy of Engineering (2002).
Rebecca Nugent is a Teaching Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. Originally from Texas, she received her PhD in Statistics from the University of Washington. Read on to hear how she’s revolutionized the data science curriculum here on campus.
Her research interests lie in the identification and extraction of meaningful patterns in high-dimensional data, techniques which she tries to apply daily to her own life. She has spearheaded the rapid growth of the Carnegie Mellon Statistics Undergraduate program and the development of modern, interdisciplinary curriculum including serving on the National Academy of Sciences Committee for “Envisioning the Data Science Discipline: The Undergraduate Perspective." She is the recipient of the 2013 Elliott Dunlap Smith Award for Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service, the 2015 William H. and Frances S. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching, and the 2015 American Statistical Association Waller Education Award for innovation. She firmly believes that everyone is already a data scientist.
Dr. Jeff Schneider is the Engineering Lead for Machine Learning at Uber ATC. He is currently on leave from Carnegie Mellon University where he was a research professor in the School of Computer Science.
Through his research, commercial, and consulting efforts, he has worked with dozens of companies and government agencies around the world. Along the way he has visited 52 countries on 6 continents. He also milked 100,000 cows during his teen years!
Jeff's talk discusses how self-driving cars will transform our cities and our lives.
Steven Chase went from being an Electrical Engineering Masters student at UC Berkley to joining the PhD Biomedical Engineering program at John Hopkins. He has since been the recipient of the Wimmer Faculty Fellowship for teaching, the Dean’s Early Career Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Read on to hear about a pivotal moment in his life.
People always ask Steve, “How did you get involved in neural prosthetics?” When he was at UC Berkeley he was designing tunable semiconductor lasers. One day for journal club he was assigned the task of comparing the light detecting ability of the eye to that of a silicon photo detector. While researching this question, he became fascinated by what the eye could do, and wanted to know why there weren’t any artificial eyes in clinical use. Of course, the main problem is that it’s hard to plug them in! Long after his assignment ended he was staying up nights reading about nerve electrical interfaces. At some point, it dawned on him that if this is what he was doing for fun, it’s probably what he should be doing for research. He approached his advisor about his decision, and the rest is history.
Steve Chase spoke about how he uses brain-computer interfaces to address questions around the limits of our learning, flexibility of our brain and what different things a group of neurons can do.
Molly Wright Steenson is a designer, writer, and speaker whose work focuses on the intersection of design, architecture, and artificial intelligence. She is the author of the forthcoming book Architecting Interactivity (MIT Press, Fall 2017), which traces architecture’s collaborations with AI over 50 years and how they poured the foundation for digital design. A UX pioneer who has worked with the web since its earliest days, Dr. Steenson is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and holds a PhD in architecture from Princeton University.
Eric Cyphers began cello at the age of 6 and has since studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and has toured extensively through North America and Europe. As a concerto soloist Eric has appeared with many orchestras playing the major cello repertoire, and has performed for Barak Obama, Pope Francis, and the Dalai Lama. He has played for Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Lang Lang among other leading musicians.
On the academic side, Eric conducts National Institute of Health funded research on Neuroplasticity. He spends mornings in the Interventional Radiology Angiosuite, and afternoons in the classroom. Once his undergraduate is complete Eric plans to attend medical school to become a Neurosurgeon.
Eric explains the connection between his diverse interests in his Ted talk.
Charlie White is the Head of the School of Art and is a noted academic, photographer, writer, and filmmaker whose work explores America’s social fictions and collective identities.
White has had numerous solo institutional exhibitions at venues including Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Domus Artium in Salamanca, Spain; and Oslo Kunstforening in Oslo, Norway; his work has also appeared in numerous group exhibitions such as the Singapore Biennial, the Hammer Biennial, and Art in America Now (organized by the Guggenheim Museum). White’s films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival and Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, and his photography has been featured in five monographs.
Charlie White discusses how the role of the photograph has shifted from a discrete commercial or personal function in society to a requisite extension of the self in his TED talk.
Amy Blankson is the co-founder of Goodthink and world’s leading expert on the connection between positive psychology and technology. Read on to hear about how Amy’s ‘Her’ moment eventually lead to her recognition by Presidents Clinton and Bush.
Amy’s pivotal moment came when she jokingly wrote a love poem to her iPhone to tease her husband. She then realized how strong her love-hate relationship with technology truly was. Simultaneously fascinated and frustrated with the ubiquity of technology, Amy began to research best practices for balancing productivity and well-being in the Digital Era. Since then, she’s been appointed by President Clinton to serve on the board of directors for the Corporation for National Service (which oversees AmeriCorps), and was named a Point of Light by Presidents Bush and Clinton.
Amy Blankson helps us discover how we can leverage the many technological advances, apps and gadgets in a way that helps us be more productive, while keeping our sanity and boosting our happiness in her Ted Talk.
Michael Senatore was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. About a year ago he decided to perform in his high school talent show. The tricky part of this was that he did not have a traditional talent, so he decided he would flip a water bottle and make it land. Next thing you know the video of him doing the trick is all over the internet and ‘The Water Bottle Flip’ became the next popular trend/meme. Since going viral he has made appearances on Stephen Colbert and Harry Connick Jr, as well as doing ads for LG, Red Bull, and Sheetz convenience store. He’s learned many things throughout this past year with his viral fame.
Michael Senatore shared what it is like to be viral on the internet, and how it has changed his life in his Ted talk.
Since January 2015, Louis-Philippe Morency has been a tenure-track Faculty at CMU Language Technology Institute where he leads the Multimodal Communication and Machine Learning Laboratory (MultiComp Lab). He was previously Research Faculty at USC Computer Science Department. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research focuses on building the computational foundations to enable computers with the abilities to analyze, recognize and predict subtle human communicative behaviors during social interactions. He has formalized this new research endeavor with the Human Communication Dynamics framework, addressing four key computational challenges: behavioral dynamic, multimodal dynamic, interpersonal dynamic and societal dynamic. This multi-disciplinary research topic overlaps the fields of multimodal interaction, social psychology, computer vision, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and has many applications in areas as diverse as medicine, robotics and education.
Scott Sandage has taught American history at CMU for 20 years and is the author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America. Active as a public historian, he has been a consultant to film and radio documentaries, as well as exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and other museums. His writings and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Politico, and other mainstream publications.
Christopher Olivola is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Before joining Tepper and Carnegie Mellon, he was a Newton International Fellow at the Warwick Business School and University College, London. He received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Chicago and a joint-PhD in psychology and policy from Princeton University. Before that, he spent his pre-adult life growing up on 4 different continents (mostly in developing countries). His research interests span several related areas, including decision making, cognitive science, behavioral economics, consumer behavior, social cognition, and experimental philosophy. His research has explored a variety of topics, such as the accuracy and impact of first impressions, human conceptions of randomness, the factors that influence charitable giving, and consumer responses to taxes.
Cameron Tonkinwise, is the Director of Design Studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He has a background in philosophy; his dissertation concerned the educational philosophies of Martin Heidegger. Cameron continues to research what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies and sociologies of technology. Cameron is facilitating the School of Design's creation of a new Design Studies sequence of courses that better prepare designers for a wider scope of work and the more interdisciplinary challenges of 21st century societies.
Naidu is a psychology major, with a minor in photography and on track for medical school through the premedical curriculum. Naidu is referred to by her nominators as “one of the most energetic, intelligent and thoughtful undergraduate students with whom we have ever had the pleasure of working.” Her interests and talents are breathtakingly broad, ranging from psychology and biology to art, design and photography. More significantly, she has integrated all of these into a coherent mission for her life. This is perhaps best illustrated by her efforts to combine her study of psychology and science with photography. She sees her photography as a means of capturing principles and phenomena that she has discovered and discussed in other facets of her education, bringing in connections from psychology, biology, philosophy and economics. Naidu has also demonstrated her commitment to service and capacity for leadership while at Carnegie Mellon. She has served as an academic coach, serves now as President of the Doctors of Carnegie Program for students interested in the health professions and founded Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, an organization that is dedicated to exploring Hindu religion and its applications to students' lives.
Closing the expectation gap between what adults believe today's youth is capable of, and allowing them to create their own solutions to today (and tomorrow's) biggest challenges; closing the wealth gap, education gap and healthcare gap will impact society greatly in the next 5-10 years. Based on her work with families worldwide, Debroah Gilboa, MD's expertise has guided her towards her philosophy of having adults step back, so youth can step up. Media personality, author, family physician and mom of four boys, Dr. G is happy to be a part of TEDx CMU in her hometown, at her alma mater.
David Selverian is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is majoring Decision Science. Originally from North Wales, Pennsylvania, David is interested in understanding how and why people make the choices that they do, especially in the context of business. In the past, David has been heavily involved in the world of startups and venture capital. His constant exposure to new technologies has taught him the importance of separating digital identities from reality. Inspired by his studies, professional experiences, and personal insight, David hopes that his talk, “The Keys to Happiness: Apple Pie and Some Coffee” will help the audience understand how social media can influence confidence, perspective, and well-being.
Dr. Rajiv Gandhi is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Rutgers University-Camden. He also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2003 from the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests lie in the broad area of theoretical computer science. Specifically, he is interested in approximation and randomized algorithms. He is a passionate educator who loves working with students with diverse backgrounds, helping them achieve their potential. He has been the recipient of several teaching excellence awards, including the Warren I. Susman award for teaching excellence at Rutgers University in 2014. He also received the Chancellor's award for Civic Engagement at Rutgers-Camden in 2013. He was a Fulbright Fellow from Jan-June 2011, during which he worked with students in Mumbai, India, and has continued to do so. Since 2009, he has also been working with high school students as part of the Program in Algorithmic and Combinatorial Thinking (http://algorithmicthinking.org).
Ms. Carolyn O'Donnell is a professionally certified Florida English and Social Science educator, who earned a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University in 2002. Her studies focused in English literature and biological genetic sciences. Upon garnering a teaching position in Florida’s public schools, Carolyn realized she had talents in developing curricula, training colleagues in educational leadership, and coaching students in writing, reading, and test taking strategies. Also at that time, she sought out her own teachers to learn self-reflection practices that would give her the courage to live a more impassioned, conscious life. Carolyn began traveling, and has since visited 30 countries; she learned the art of photography, made meditation and conscious living a priority, and pursued poetry writing. Inside and outside the school classroom, Carolyn creates lessons for adults and students, so that they too can realize their own infinitely powerful potential; her interdisciplinary lessons based in philosophy, emotional intelligence, cultural studies, and literary and scientific disciplines, inspire students to enact their knowledge: they too have the courage to move forward and make their dreams living. Carolyn is pursuing a Masters of Arts in English Literature through Middlebury College. She continues to write poems, publish essays, and travel with the understanding that the external world is a reflection of her internal world.