TEDxOU: ELEMENTAL seeks to explore the building blocks of what makes communities, ideas, movements, and passions tangible. The lineup of speakers for TEDxOU 2017 is filled with passionate experts, community leaders, and OU students whose lives and work show us the potential we have to build, collaborate, and reach large impact from basic elements.
Lauren Whiteman, M.Ed., is originally from Dallas, Texas and received both her Bachelors in Public Relations and her Masters in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma. She now serves as an Assistant Director of Student Life and the Coordinator for African American Student Programs and Services. Her work focuses on advocacy, student development, and the miseducation of Black and African American students in higher education. Lauren has also written on some serious and not-so-serious topics related to Black culture for different media outlets, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dave King has been involved in high-tech entrepreneurship since the early 1990s. He has over 15 years experience in all aspects of software development, from system architecture to large-scale database design to the psychology of user interfaces and management of Agile development teams. Dave helped pioneer paperless manufacturing information systems in the electronics industry, then focused on designing extensible software systems for ad hoc visualization and analysis of large-scale multidimensional datasets. In 2011, Dave saw the need for a more modular and cross-disciplinary approach to data science and founded Exaptive, Inc. in order to pursue ways that technology and community can be combined to facilitate innovation. In 2015, his company was named as one of five Cool New Vendors in the life sciences by Gartner and an Innovator of Year by the Journal Record and in 2016 was selected by the Bloor Group as one of the top 10 companies and technologies to watch. Dave holds a BS from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science.
Gregg A. Garn, Ph.D., is the Dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education as well as the executive director of the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal. He holds the Humphreys Dean’s Chair and the Linda Clarke Anderson Presidential Professorship. He is a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Dr. Garn is active in several national organizations, including the Politics of Education Association, the University Council for Educational Administration, and the American Educational Research Association. His research agenda centers on school choice, policy development and implementation and the politics of education. He has authored articles in Educational Administration Quarterly, Education and Urban Society,Education Policy Analysis Archives, Journal of School Leadership and Educational Leadership. He has been a part of multiple externally funded projects, serving as PI or Co-PI overseeing over $40 million in grants from various government and private funders. He has worked closely with various state level policymakers and professional associations in an effort to improve the quality of education in the state.
Rijutha Garimella is a senior at OU majoring in Economics and minoring in Political Science & Chemistry. She hopes to be a part of the medical world one day, but also hopes to fuel her curious spirit by learning about the world around her. Rijutha strives to make an impact on the community and is involved with Class Council, Student Alumni Association, and the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth on campus. In her free time, you can find Rijutha cooking for her family and friends, dancing, or reading. She loves making people laugh, aspires to travel the world, and learn as many languages as possible.
Shreya is an undergraduate senior at the University of Oklahoma studying Economics and Computer Science. Through her studies at OU, she has found an interest in social inequalities in non-Western countries. As a first-generation Indian immigrant, she has a passion for revealing social and gender issues regarding her own homeland which has led her to undertake independent research of these subjects throughout South Asia. Aside from academics, Shreya attends hackathons, memorizes classic poetry, and pores over anything related to Harry Potter. In addition, she loves to travel, having lived in 3 countries, and traveled to an additional 10. She hopes to add many, many more destinations to this list. After finishing her studies, she hopes to join the technology industry and be a voice for minority women in STEM.
“Trayton Miller is a junior at the University of Oklahoma hailing from West Columbia, South Carolina. An advertising major, Trayton is involved with Lindsey+Asp, OU’s student-run ad agency, doing creative work and graphic designing. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to ska music, watching sports for the uniforms, petting cats, and getting emotionally invested in soccer matches only to be let down. He hopes you enjoy his talk!”
EB McCready is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, pursuing dual degrees in advertising and management. During her time at OU she has discovered a passion for nonprofits and politics thanks to her involvement with The Oklahoma Group and Student Government Association. She actively tries to fill any free time that she has with new activities and campus organizations, but when she does relax, she enjoys cooking for her friends. EB loves to make people smile and learn from everyone she encounters.
Amy is the quarterback and co-founder of Last Night’s Game, a site for the sports curious; a safe haven to empower those who want to learn about the world of sports but don’t know where to start. While her athletic participation was short lived, Amy fell in love with the world of sports. That learned love for sports came in handy when she embarked on her career path in Major League Baseball. She’s lived internationally and continues to travel anywhere and everywhere, which provides her with a global sports perspective. A master of small talk, bringing people together and the handwritten note (the art is not dead), you can often find this married lady not sweating the small stuff while embracing her inner domestic goddess or talking sports with her brother and co-founder.
Ranya Forgotson O’Connor hails from Norman, Oklahoma and serves as Director of The Curbside Chronicle at the Homeless Alliance. The Curbside Chronicle is a magazine that employs homeless and at-risk individuals in Oklahoma City, helping them earn a dignified income and transition into housing and on to further employment opportunities. In addition to covering the local OKC scene, The Curbside Chronicle also includes articles written by those experiencing homelessness and about issues of poverty in our local community. Ranya is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a BA in Marketing and minor in Nonprofit Business. Ranya is passionate about social entrepreneurship and the creativity of finding solutions to social problems through business. She also loves a good pot of Moroccan tea, the art of taxidermy, her Classen Ten Penn neighborhood, and her four cats.
Robyn Biggs, Ph.D., is a teaching emphasis faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She is originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and obtained both her Bachelors in Science and Doctorate degree at the University of Ottawa. She teaches introductory organic chemistry and is interested in improving the organic chemistry curriculum by reorganizing lecture material and implementing new laboratory experiments. She is currently writing an interactive organic chemistry textbook for the courses she teaches here at the University of Oklahoma.
Ken Stoner is a curious lawyer in the unlikely role of innovating in the area of treatment of drug addiction. Upon graduation from law school his desire to improve our community influenced his choice to work as a criminal prosecutor. While there, he first began to understand the enormous impact and magnitude that addiction is having as an underlying factor driving the majority of criminal activity and many other social problems. Once he left the District Attorney’s Office and began private practice he engaged in the front line work of assisting those with battling addiction. Discouraged by the fact that for many people even our best treatment models are ineffective in the short term, Ken co-founded shift+groove to dig deeply into the latest discoveries in neuro science and brain health. Shift+groove is intergrating the emerging technology of virtual reality with the ancient practice of mindfulness to help us treat addiction.
Ken graduated from the of OU College of Law with highest honors. He is a sixth generation Oklahoman and a proud member of the Cherokee tribe. He is even more proud of his charming wife and three sons. Ken is a self professed “TED Geek” having watched nearly 750 TED Talks and was the founder/curator of TEDxOKC in 2011. Talk to him about meditation, Thailand, longboarding and Adventure Racing.
Sarah has been playing the violin for sixteen years. She attended the University of Oklahoma as a violin performance major and now calls Norman home. She loves to write music and play solo gigs in addition to joining other local musicians whenever she can. Sarah is also a baker and loves taking walks with her dog, Jesse. (Photo credit: Mark Elliot @ Atria Creative)
Jane Hsi is a senior at OU triple-majoring in Biochemistry, Letters, and Studio Art. Although this seems like a strange combination of majors, Jane enjoys how the diversity of these fields allows her to use both the analytical and creative sides of her brain. Thanks to the incredible dedication and patience of her professors—from both the science and the art departments—Jane has found a passion for art academia and for oil painting. She hopes to continue working with her community and with fellow artists to challenge aesthetic standards in art and society. She is currently curating an exhibition at OU that will showcase artists from around the nation with the theme of the works being the relationship between race and aesthetics. Although she tries to keep herself busy with classes, student organizations, and studio work, Jane does find time to relax by reading a good novel, biking in cold weather, Skyping with her family in China, and speed-napping between classes.