TEDxOU: ROOTS is giving the stage to OU students and Oklahomans to talk about what lies at the roots of some of today’s most innovative ideas, movements, and people. The lineup of speakers and performers for TEDxOU 2018 is filled with passionate experts, community leaders, and OU students outstanding stories, research, and ideas to share.

Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton joined the 4Warn Storm Team in December 2009 as KFOR’s first female meteorologist. Since distinguishing herself while storm chasing live during the historic May 2013 tornado outbreaks, Sutton continues to cover significant storms firsthand for KFOR-TV. Her storm chasing gained national recognition with video showcased on CNN, MSNBC and The Weather Channel. She was featured in a storm chasing article for “Popular Mechanics” Magazine. KFOR’s team coverage of the May 20, 2013 Moore tornado won an National Emmy. She’s been awarded “Best Meteorologist” in OKC (So6ix Magazine), Norman (Best of Norman) and Enid (Best of Enid). Besides weather, Sutton loves to sing and had the honor of singing in front of thousands at Tennessee’s famous NASCAR track, Oklahoma City Baron’s hockey and Thunder basketball.

Emily Sutton and Scott Hines crossed the finish line of their first IRONMAN triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) on November 16, 2014. The duo headed TEAM OKLAHOMA and raised $200,000 for “The Go Mitch Go Foundation.” GMG is an Oklahoma-born non-profit raising money for leukemia and lymphoma research. Sutton and her husband reside in Oklahoma City with their two “fur kids,” Okie and Winnie.


Barron Ryan

Barron Ryan has spent his entire career figuring out how to engage audiences with music almost no one listens to. He quickly realized that while classical piano and satirical hip-hop may be tough to sell, everyone loves a great story. Barron earned a Bachelors Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Oklahoma, but after getting rejected by all the graduate schools that might impress you, became determined to blaze his own trail with music in which—as he puts it—Classic Meets Cool.

Meredith Peebles

Meredith Peebles is the COO for the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation in Tulsa, OK. Prior to joining LTFF, she spent more than five years working for ConocoPhillips in various supervisor, advisor, and analyst roles in the finance and human resources organizations. Meredith graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 with a BA in Economics and a minor in International Studies. While at OU, she served as Panhellenic President and was honored as a Big Woman on Campus for her service to the university community.

Currently Meredith is pursuing her Master of Public Administration at the University of Oklahoma- Tulsa. She serves on the advisory board for The Mine, the Domestic Violence Intervention Services associate board and as a trustee for the Tulsa Young Professionals Foundation. She was recognized as a 2016 Tulsa Business & Legal News Top 40 Under 40.

 Rena Cook

Rena Cook is Professor Emerita in the University of Oklahoma’s Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama where she taught voice, speech and dialects.  She is the founder of Vocal Authority, a training consultancy helping corporate clients – politicians, attorneys, educators, sales teams, and CEOs – who want to use their voice in more commanding and authentic ways. Rena is the author of Empower your Voice: For Women in Business, Politics and Life, and Voice and the Young Actor; she co-edited Breath in Action: the art of breath in vocal and holistic practice, and is former Editor-in-Chief of the Voice & Speech Review. She holds an M.A. in Voice Studies from London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, an M.F.A. in Directing from the University of Oklahoma, and an MA in Guidance & Counseling from the University of Tulsa. Prior to teaching at OU, she taught at the University of Kansas and Oklahoma State University. She also taught high school drama for sixteen years before moving to higher education. Her dedication to teacher training continues each summer as she teaches on the University of Houston’s M.A. for drama teachers. Honors include the Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 6 Innovative Teacher of the Year and the Wick Carey Endowed Professor in the Arts. Rena’s guilty pleasure is voicing animation and video game characters. www.myvocalauthority.com

Carey Flack

Carey Flack is a two-time social entrepreneur who believes in the power of community and technology. During her time at the University of Oklahoma, Carey founded Roomswap, a lease-swapping tool that saved students $100,000 in rent. Since her graduation, Carey has co-founded BLOOM, a tool that offers introductory courses for a host of global Indigenous languages. BLOOM is currently working in conjunction with the Cherokee Nation and is set to launch its first course in 2018.

Carey received her BBA in Entrepreneurship and minor in African & African American Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2016. The same year that she was named a “Power Girl” by Seventeen Magazine for her work in social impact technology.

Frank D. Evans

Frank D. Evans is a Data Scientist with Exaptive, an Oklahoma City-based data science software company. Frank focuses on how data-driven applications can be leveraged to explore data in innovative ways. He specializes in data networks–where pieces of data are described and interacted with according to their relationships to other data, people, and domains.

Lee Krumholz

Lee Krumholz is an environmental microbiologist at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches Geomicrobiology and other microbial ecology related courses and labs. His research focuses on how bacteria survive and grow in several different natural ecosystems. This work has recently taken him to a sulfur and methane spring in western Oklahoma, a deep mine shaft in South Dakota and to the Brant Park Duck pond in Norman. Lee has a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois where he studied how the bacteria that live in the cow’s rumen make a living.   Before moving to Oklahoma, he taught at MIT in environmental engineering, where he investigated how bacteria can aid us in dealing with environmental contamination. In 2017, Lee received funding from the National Science Foundation to look for novel bacteria that convert methane to carbon dioxide and to understand the mechanisms by which the conversion processes occur.

 Alec Armer

Alec Armer is a senior Entrepreneurship major at The University of Oklahoma who currently serves as the chair for Campus Activities Council. During his time at OU, he has made an impact on growing businesses through his involvement in the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth and served to improve campus life through his involvement in CAC, Camp Crimson, the JCPenney Leadership Program, and more. One of the biggest factors that has shaped his life experiences and sense of identity is the fact that he is an identical twin. Alec’s identical twin, Justin, is a rising Junior Drama major with an acting emphasis at OU, and most recently appeared in the University Theater production of “Noises Off.”

 Nico Juarez

Nicolás Juárez is a Native American studies student at the University of Oklahoma. His work focuses on an examination of the intersections of race and power with a focus on settler colonialism. He hails from Youngsville, Louisiana and has Tzotzil ancestry.

Will Shelden

Will Shelden is a senior geology major in The University of Oklahoma’s OU Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. Originally from North Carolina, Will has been a student at OU since 2014 and has been an active member of OU’s Campus Activities Council and the MCEE. His research focuses on Oklahoma’s longterm water security and the potential problems arising from resource depletion and climate change. He looks forward to graduating this May in order to continue his studies in energy and resource law.

Nick Williams

Nick Williams is a world blender. He is singer-songwriter, and also currently a student at The University of Oklahoma College of Law. The son of a pilot and an artist, Nick grew up traveling, “culture steeping,” and (after seeing Jack Black’s School of Rock) playing guitar. A graduate of the Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, Nick spent his undergrad years studying media forms of various countries, all the while playing through Box Talent Agency. His music has been licensed by shows such as Bill Nye Saves The World, and The Real World, as well as The Discovery Channel, and will be featured at this year’s SXSW Festival. Nick enjoys a cup of oolong tea, sweaters, and the occasional Harry Potter relapse.