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2016 TEDxUSU Speakers Announced

Thursday, Aug. 04, 2016

a portion of the TEDxUSU promotional poster with photographs of faculty members

(image from Research and Graduate Studies)

Representatives from Utah State University’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies have announced its roster for TEDxUSU, one of campus’ most popular speaking events. Now in its fifth year, TEDxUSU will be held Oct. 28 in the Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall on USU’s Logan campus.

This year’s TEDxUSU lineup includes six USU faculty members, two USU students and two external speakers. The theme is “Lift,” and the speakers will share their “Ideas Worth Spreading,” related to that theme in the TED format: short and entertaining.

“We have an exceptional group of speakers,” said Scott Bates, associate vice president and associate dean in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, who is also a producer of TEDxUSU. “Each year, it’s hard to believe we can top our previous event, but, each year, we always are able to draw better and better talks.”

Auditions for TEDxUSU began in April when USU faculty members were invited to share with the event organizers the ideas they were interested in giving on stage. More than 50 faculty members applied for the event.

Faculty speaking at TEDxUSU include Albdulkafi Albirini, Clair Canfield, Merideth Thompson, Debra Jenson, Elizabeth Vargis and Joseph Wilson.

Albirini is an associate professor in the Language, Philosophy and Communication Studies Department, and he will discuss how arrogance can lead to extremism of thought, just as easily in Logan, Utah, or Cleveland, Ohio, as it can in the Middle East.

Canfield is a lecturer, also in the Language, Philosophy and Communications Studies Department. His talk centers on methods to work through interpersonal conflict with others.

Thompson, associate professor in the Management Department, will work to bring to light the distraction that technology often brings into life and the balancing act between work and family life.

Jenson, assistant professor in the Journalism and Communication Department, will outline the rise of female superheroes in science fiction and comics.

Vargis is an assistant professor in the Biological Engineering Department, and she will share her story as a female engineer as she tells the story of her research.

Wilson, an assistant professor of biology at the Tooele Regional Campus, will tell us the real plight of the bumblebee, as everyone is trying to save something they cannot accurately identify.

“It’s always our favorite time of the year to spend those few days listening to all the auditions from our USU faculty,” said Anna McEntire, senior director of project management and communication in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies and director of TEDxUSU. “The only problem is right after that, when we have to narrow down our choices to just a few. It’s an incredibly hard decision, but we feel we’ve chosen a group that really represents Utah State.”

TEDxUSU 2016 also features two student speakers, Amy Moser and Jeannie Woller. Both were speakers at the student-centered Ignite speaking event held during research week spring 2016 and will build on their popular talks.

This year’s external speakers are Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Kenneth Quinn, former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia.

“We’re excited to have such notable speakers,” said Mark McLellan, vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. “Attorney General Reyes and Ambassador Quinn will not only share their ideas with us, but they will share their passion and their life missions.”

Reyes will share his mission of ending all forms of human trafficking, and Quinn will share his passion for making rural communities more self-sustaining through the development of roads and agriculture.

McEntire said each speaker puts him or herself into their talks.

“Our speakers put their hearts into this,” McEntire said. “They begin crafting their messages in early June, and they are constantly working on, changing and improving their talks until the day of the event. They want to share their best ideas, in the best way possible.”

Those interested in attending TEDxUSU can enter the ticket lottery beginning Sept. 21. More information about the ticketing process, TEDxUSU and the full list of speakers is available online at the TEDxUSU website. Additional information about the event and profiles of the speakers will also be shared on TEDxUSU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

About TEDx

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

Related link:

USU’s Research and Graduate Studies

Writer: Katie Feinauer, (801) 703-3602,

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