Ella Al-Shamahi sometimes calls herself an "adventure-scientist" -- but to her, it's less about the adventure of working in places like Yemen, Iraq, the Nagorno-Karabakh and northern Cyprus. She believes in using expeditions to shed light on some of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged people and places on earth.
Al-Shamahi is a TV presenter and stand-up comic, partly because she realized that it was an incredible way to communicate science. She performs stand-up and nerdy-science stand-up in the UK and internationally. She was named a 2015 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
As Wajahat Ali writes: "I'm a left-handed son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants who is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up -- but once in a while, I can tell a great story and amuse people.
"Now, I get paid to write and tell stories that are by us, for everyone: stories where marginalized communities are protagonists of an evolving American narrative. I hope I can entertain and inform global audiences while bridging cultural divides. I basically get paid to be immature and do the stuff I did for free as a kid."
Constance Stamatiou began her dance training at Pat Hall's Dance Unlimited and North Carolina Dance and Theatre. She graduated from NorthWest School of the Arts and studied at SUNY Purchase before becoming a fellowship student at The Ailey School. In 2009, Stamatiou received the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the performing and visual arts. She performed at the White House Dance Series and has been a guest performer on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Logo's Trailblazer Honors, and The Today Show. Stamatiou has also danced in the films Shake Rattle & Roll and in Dan Pritzker's Bolden. Stamatiou was a member of Ailey ll a guest artist for Darrell Grand Moultrie and Caroline Calouche and Co. She is a certified Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor and a mother of two. Stamatiou first joined the Company in 2007 and rejoined in 2016.
Solomon Dumas was introduced to dance through AileyCamp. He later began his formal training at The Chicago Academy For The Arts and the Russell Talbert Dance Studio, where he received his most inﬂuential training. Dumas studied at New World School Of The Arts and was a fellowship Level 1 student at The Ailey School. He has performed with companies including Garth Fagan Dance; Ronald K. Brown/Evidence A Dance Company; and Labyrinth Dance Theater and was a member of Ailey II. Mr. Dumas joined the Company in 2016.
Samantha Figgins began dancing at Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the tutelage of Charles Auggins and Sandra Fortune-Greene and attended summer intensives at Dance Theatre of Harlem under the direction of Arthur Mitchell. She continued her education at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. There, she performed works by George Balanchine, Bill T. Jones, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. Upon graduating cum laude, Figgins became a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, performing works by Dwight Rhoden, Jae Man Joo and Camille A. Brown. She also performed at the 2014 DanceOpen Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Figgins was featured both on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and in Pointe magazine's "10 Careers to Watch" in 2013. She has worked with Beyoncé and can be seen in the film Enemy Within alongside Tiler Peck and Matthew Rushing. Figgins joined the Company in 2014
Peter Beck is on a mission to lift human potential by opening access to space for small satellites that perform vital services, such as weather monitoring, communications and Earth-observation.
After a childhood spent making homemade rockets in a small New Zealand town, Beck founded Rocket Lab, where he led the development of the Electron rocket. Throwing the rocket-building rule book out the window, Beck and his team developed the world's first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powering it with 3D-printed, electric turbopump-fed engines. He also oversaw the development of the world's only private orbital launch site. In January 2018, Rocket Lab (now a billion-dollar company) staged the first of many orbital launches.
As Asmeret Asefaw Berhe tells it: "My research investigates: 1) how the soil system controls the earth's climate, in particular how otherwise thermodynamically unstable organic compounds can remain in soil for up to millennia," and "2) the dynamic two-way relationship between human communities and the soil system that we depend on for our food and nutritional security, and the socio-political implications of land degradation.
"I have a strong commitment towards education, outreach and mentoring. I am driven to ensure that scientific education and careers are equally accessible to people from all walks of life, and that academic workplaces are free from bias and harassment."
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio is a public servant who thinks the boldest question he can ask to transform his country is: "Why not?" Bio is currently serving as the fifth democratically elected President of Sierra Leone.
Prior to his election as President, Bio proudly served Sierra Leone as a school teacher, soldier and Head of State. As Head of State in 1996, he ushered in multiparty democracy after decades of one-party and military rule in Sierra Leone. He is currently completing a PhD in Peace Studies at University of Bradford in UK. He is one of 35 children born to Paramount Chief Charlie Vonie Bio II, Sogbini Chiefdom in Sierra Leone.
David Brooks became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in September 2003. He is currently a commentator on "The PBS Newshour," NPR’s "All Things Considered" and NBC's "Meet the Press."
Brooks also teaches at Yale University, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Born on August 11, 1961 in Toronto, Canada, Brooks graduated a bachelor of history from the University of Chicago in 1983. He became a police reporter for the City News Bureau, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times.
He worked at The Washington Times and then The Wall Street Journal for nine years. His last post at the Journal was as Op-ed Editor. Prior to that, he was posted in Brussels, covering Russia, the Middle East, South Africa and European affairs. His first post at the Journal was as editor of the book review section, and he filled in as the Journal's movie critic.
He also served as a senior editor at The Weekly Standard for 9 years, as well as contributing editor for The Atlantic and Newsweek.
Derren Brown redefines magic through must-see TV and stage events, exhilarating audiences worldwide with a never-equalled brand of mind-control, suggestion, showmanship and illusion. He has gained a reputation as a performer prepared to constantly challenge and break down boundaries.
Amid a varied and notorious TV career, Brown has played Russian Roulette live, convinced middle-managers to commit armed robbery, led the nation in a séance, stuck viewers at home to their sofas, successfully predicted the National Lottery, motivated a shy man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet, hypnotised another to assassinate Stephen Fry, and created a zombie apocalypse for an unwitting participant after dramatically ending the world.
Brown is the author of Meet the People with Love, Happy: Why More or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine and Confessions of a Conjuror.
Carole Cadwalladr is a journalist for the Guardian and Observer in the United Kingdom. She worked for a year with whistleblower Christopher Wylie to publish her investigation into Cambridge Analytica, which she shared with the New York Times. The investigation resulted in Mark Zuckerberg being called before Congress and Facebook losing more than $100 billion from its share price. She has also uncovered multiple crimes committed during the European referendum and evidence of Russian interference in Brexit. Her work has won a Polk Award and the Orwell Prize for political journalism. Of her award-winning work, judge Sir David Bell wrote: She "deserves high praise for the quality of her research and for her determination to shed fierce light on a story which seems by no means over yet. Orwell would have loved it."
Rafael Casal is currently writing and preparing his feature directorial debut, First Sight, for Lionsgate. Casal will next be seen in Cory Finley's Bad Education opposite Hugh Jackman. He's well-known to audiences for his work on HBO's Def Poetry, and his theatre-in-verse works and music have gained millions of views and listens. They have been presented at venues worldwide and featured on MTV, Showtime and at the SXSW and the Sundance Film Festivals.
Casal is the cofounder and the artistic director of the landmark Bars Workshop at the famed Public Theater. He served as the creative director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison's First Wave Undergraduate Arts Program and as the curator for the Line Breaks Festival. He is also developing his most recent theatre piece, The Limp, into a musical.
Jon M. Chu is known for his visually stunning blockbuster films, as well as his kinetic work across various genres, from groundbreaking series to commercials and films. Most recently, Chu directed the worldwide phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians, which has earned more than $175 million in the United States alone. The film is the first non-period studio picture in more than 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast, and it represents a new chapter in Chu's 10-year career.
In the commercial/digital/music video space, he broke new ground by creating the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (The LXD) and broke records with videos for Justin Bieber and the unforgettable Virgin America Safety Video. In the summer of 2019, Chu will helm his most ambitious project to date: the highly anticipated adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical In the Heights for Warner Bros.
David Deutsch is a physicist and author who is, as he puts it, "interested in anything fundamental." He discovered the first quantum algorithm and is the codiscoverer, with Richard Jozsa, of the first quantum algorithm that could solve certain problems exponentially faster than anything available to classical computer science.
Deutsch has proposed constructor theory, which postulates that all laws of nature can be expressed in terms of whether a task is possible or impossible -- a theory that extends not only to computation, but also into everything that exists. He is a proponent of the multiverse interpretation of quantum mechanics, which has the startling implication that every physically possible event exists somewhere within an infinite fabric of co-existing universes.
Es Devlin OBE is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse technology and poetry. Her luminous fluorescent red Fifth Lion sculpture roared AI-generated collective poetry to crowds in Trafalgar Square in September 2018. The Singing Tree, a collective choral installation at the V&A, merged machine-learning with sound and light in 2017; the 2016 Mirrormaze in Peckham and 2017 Room 2022 in Miami both explored reflective labyrinthine geometries and narratives.
Devlin collaborated with celebrated theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on an interpretation of The Order of Time read by Benedict Cumberbatch in 2018 and has conceived touring stage sculptures for Beyoncé, U2 and Kanye West. She has pioneered an artistically and technically ambitious approach to her practice that bridges the gap between audience and performance, often using surface, light, projection and reflection to create dramatic and ambiguous spatial and psychological environments.
Devlin's practice was the subject of the Netflix documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design, and she was recently named winner of the much-coveted architectural commission to create the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Poem Pavilion will continue the work in AI-generated collective poetry first conceived with Hans Ulrich Obrist at The Serpentine in 2017.
Since he was 18, Rick Doblin has devoted himself to becoming a legal psychedelic psychotherapist. In 1986, he founded a nonprofit psychedelic pharmaceutical company -- the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) -- which he has grown from a one-man project to an international psychedelic pharmaceutical company.
Doblin's professional goal is to become a legally licensed psychedelic psychotherapist by developing legal contexts for the safe uses of psychedelics and marijuana as prescription medicines and also for personal growth, spirituality and creativity. Today, MAPS is designing or sponsoring psychedelic psychotherapy drug development research in over a dozen countries and has raised more than $70 million in donations.
Prior to his work at Sidewalk Labs, Dan Doctoroff was President and Chief Executive Officer of Bloomberg LP, the leading provider of news and information to the global financial community, until December 2014. During his tenure at Bloomberg, he led the company through the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression by pursuing an aggressive strategy of investment, focused on enhancing the company's core Terminal product, expanding into enterprise products and services, creating new businesses in government, law and energy, and building the company's news operations, including its acquisition of Businessweek. During the seven years that he led the company, despite the financial crisis, Bloomberg’s organic revenues nearly doubled.
Prior to joining Bloomberg L.P., Doctoroff served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. With Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, he led the city's dramatic economic resurgence, spearheading the effort to reverse New York's fiscal crisis after 9/11 through a five-borough economic development strategy. This plan included the most ambitious land-use transformation in the city’s modern history; the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site; the largest affordable housing program ever launched by an American city; and the formation of new Central Business Districts and Industrial Business Zones. Doctoroff also oversaw the creation of PlaNYC, New York’s pathbreaking sustainability plan.
Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Doctoroff was Managing Partner of the private equity investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. While at Oak Hill, he founded NYC2012, the organization that spearheaded efforts to bring the Olympic Games to the city.
Doctoroff serves on the Boards of the University of Chicago, World Resources Institute, United States Olympic Committee, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Human Rights First. He is the founder of Target ALS, which raises funds for and has established a new model of collaboration to advance ALS research. He is a founder and chairman of Culture Shed, an innovative new cultural institution at the Hudson Yards in Manhattan. Doctoroff is a graduate of Harvard College and The Law School at the University of Chicago. A native of Michigan, he has lived in New York for the past 32 years with his wife, Alisa. The Doctoroffs have three grown children.
When Elizabeth Dunn got her first job, she wondered what to do with the money that was suddenly appearing in her bank account. So she teamed up with her friend Mike Norton (at Harvard) to figure out how people could use money to buy the most happiness. She and Norton wrote a book called Happy Money, which presents five research-based principles designed to help individuals and organizations use their money in happier ways. It was selected by the Washington Post as one of the "top 20 books every leader should read."
Recently, her work has focused on how people navigate trade-offs between time and money, and how mobile technology can both support and undermine human happiness. Dunn is an avid skier and surfer, and she survived a shark attack.
Kristie Ebi has been conducting research and developing practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for over 20 years, understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies for countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Ebi is the author of multiple national and international climate change assessments, including the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C. She co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS).
America Ferrera is an award-winning actress and producer known for her breakthrough role as Betty Suarez on ABC's hit comedy Ugly Betty. For her performance, Ferrera was recognized with a Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards. She currently produces and stars in the NBC workplace comedy Superstore, which is in its fourth season.
Ferrera recently released her first book, American Like Me, landing on the New York Times best-seller list. The book is a vibrant and varied collection of first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures in America. A longtime activist, Ferrera co-founded HARNESS with her husband, Ryan Piers Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama in 2016. HARNESS is a community of artists, influencers and grassroots leaders that provides education and engagement opportunities to amplify the work of organizations and individuals working on behalf of social justice. In July 2016, Ferrera spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on behalf of women's rights and immigration in support of Hillary Clinton. She was a chair for the Artists' Committee for the Women's March on Washington and spoke at the historic Women's March the day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. In 2006, Ferrera founded her own television and film production company, Take Fountain.
Comprised of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, First Aid Kit have been making music together for over a decade. They gained international acclaim while still teenagers for their otherworldly harmonies and timeless songwriting, taking multi-genre inspiration from folk, country and the classic singer-songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s.
Now four albums and two EPs into their career, in 2018 First Aid Kit released the critically and commercially celebrated Ruins and its companion EP, Tender Offerings. Written during a breakup and recorded in Portland, Oregon, with producer Tucker Martine, it is their most mature and personal record to date, for which they were honored with a Swedish Grammy and Brits awards nomination. For International Women's Day 2017, the duo released "You are the Problem Here" as a charity single -- a searing takedown of misogyny and rape culture, donating the proceeds to Women for Women International.
First Aid Kit have performed sold-out shows at many of the world's most iconic venues, inclduing Royal Albert Hall, The Sydney Opera House and the Globe Arena in their native Stockholm. They have been honored with multiple Swedish Grammys and Music Publishers Association awards and, in 2015, Sweden featured them on a limited edition postage stamp. Already music business veterans in their twenties, Klara and Johanna are thrilled to perform at TED2019.
Freestyle Love Supreme has performed on stages from Cape Town to Melbourne to NYC -- and practically everywhere in between. Members include Utkarsh Ambudkar, Andrew Bancroft, Daveed Diggs, James Monroe Iglehart, Chris Jackson, Arthur Lewis, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill Sherman, Chris Sullivan and Anthony Veneziale.
Adena Friedman assumed the role of President and CEO of Nasdaq on January 1, 2017. She brings more than 20 years of industry leadership and expertise and is credited with significant contributions that shaped Nasdaq's strategic transformation to a leading global exchange and technology solutions company with operations on six continents.
From 1993 to 2011, Friedman was a key member of Nasdaq's management team, serving in a variety of roles. She played an instrumental role in the company's acquisition strategy, overseeing the acquisitions of INET, OMX and the Philadelphia and Boston Exchanges.
How would Hannah Gadsby describe herself to a teenager at a dinner party? "I am a stand-up comedian from Tasmania. Courtesy of my Netflix special, Nanette, released last year, I have found some rather sudden fame, and I am deeply uncomfortable with so much positive attention. Prior to said special, I had spent a decade or so quietly working my way round the live stand-up circuit in Australia and the UK and had thought of my career as a reasonably successful situation. I am yet to recalibrate my definition of success since the event known as 'said special.'
"I am on the spectrum. I have two dogs whom I love deeply. I enjoy gardening. And I am so sorry you are sitting next to me, teenager."
Gadsby is also on the cast of Please Like Me on Hulu.
As a journalist living in Moscow during one of the most turbulent periods in recent Russian history, Masha Gessen had a first-hand perspective of the rebirth of totalitarianism in their home country. Now living in New York, Gessen is a staff writer at the New Yorker, a fellow with New America Foundation and an activist for LGBT rights.
Gessen is the author of The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Gessen is also the author of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.
In Joseph Gordon-Levitt's own words: "I'm lucky. I found a creative outlet young. I started working as an actor when I was six years old. When I was 19, I quit acting to go to college. And a few years later, when I tried to get back into it, nobody would give me a part. That really hurt. I realized my old creative outlet wouldn't work anymore because it depended too much on other people. I had to be able to express myself on my own, and my personal metaphor for this was the REC button: 'Hit record,' I'd say to myself. Get started, make something.
"What started as a private rallying cry became a humble website, which grew into a worldwide community, an Emmy-winning production company and a new collaborative media platform. What we've found over the years [through HITRECORD] is that the best way for many people to find their creative outlet is through collaborating with others."
Designer, food lover and entrepreneur Jon Gray cofounded Ghetto Gastro in 2012 to promote the cuisine of the Bronx and other bastions of "ghetto cuisine" -- "ghetto" signifying nothing less than the home of "creativity that hasn't been stolen yet."
According to Gray, "I had some homies that were chefs on the rise, and I knew we have a point of view that was fresh, and we were only interested in creating the art we wanted to see in the world." That art includes staging food events from their "Black Power kitchen," opening gardens and celebrating the local cuisine. As "dishwasher," Gray handles Ghetto Gastro's "dirty jobs," which include creative direction and promotion.
According to Roger Hanlon, "The diversity and sophistication of marine animals fascinates me, and my cornerstone passion is animal behavior. I particularly enjoy diving in different ocean habitats and studying animals that change color and pattern -- especially octopus, cuttlefish and squid, but also various coral reef fishes.
"I stumbled on to this journey while casually diving in Panama as a college junior and, decades later, I am still striving to figure out how these magnificent animals do what they do -- and why they do it. I am keenly interested in the 'visual ecology' of rapid adaptive coloration used for both camouflage and communication."
As Bjarke Ingels writes: "Hoping to become a cartoonist, I enrolled into architecture school at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to improve my drawing skills. I immediately developed an interest in architecture and later studied at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona, where I won my first competition with a few friends.
"I cofounded PLOT Architects with Julien De Smedt in 2001. I founded BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group in 2005. We are a team of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, and inventors" who utilize information -- "local culture and climate, changing patterns of contemporary life, the ebbs and flows of the global economy"-- to drive the design process.
Ingels grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of HOT TO COLD: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation and Yes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution.
Judith Jamison joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965 and quickly became an international star. Over the next 15 years, Ailey created some of his most enduring roles for her, most notably the tour-de-force solo Cry. During the 1970s and 80s, Jamison appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies all over the world, starred in the hit Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies and formed her own company, The Jamison Project. She returned to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989 when Ailey asked her to succeed him as Artistic Director. In the 21 years that followed, she brought the Company to unprecedented heights, including two historic engagements in South Africa and a 50-city global tour to celebrate the Company’s 50th anniversary.
Jamison is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them an Emmy, an American Choreography Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, a National Medal of Arts, a "Bessie" Award, the Phoenix Award and the Handel Medallion. She was also listed in TIME's list of The World’s Most Influential People and honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series event. In 2015, she became the 50th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance. Jamison continues to dedicate herself to asserting the prominence of the arts in our culture.
Born in New York City to a Tunisian father and a Swiss mother, Suleika Jaouad's career aspirations as a foreign correspondent were cut short when, at age 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She began writing the acclaimed New York Times column and video series "Life, Interrupted” from the front lines of her hospital bed and has since become a fierce advocate for those living with illness and chronic pain.
Jaouad served on Barack Obama's Presidential Cancer Panel, and her advocacy work and reporting have brought her everywhere from the United Nations and Capitol Hill to a maximum security prison and a two-room schoolhouse in rural Montana.
Sarah Kay has shared her poetry in 30 countries on six continents: in the middle of cornfields in Iowa, an orthodontist office in Nepal, a viking ship on a fjord in Norway, an LGBTQ community center in India, a church in New Zealand, a nightclub in Singapore, the Royal Danish Theater in Denmark, a public square in Estonia, Carnegie Hall in New York City, the back rooms of bars, juvenile detention centers, middle school gymnasiums and everywhere in between. Her poetry can be found on Netflix TV shows, Uniqlo T-shirts and bookstore shelves. She is the author of four best-selling books of poetry including B, The Type, No Matter the Wreckage and All Our Wild Wonder.
Kay holds a Masters Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. She is the founder and codirector of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate and empower students and teachers worldwide.
Barbara J. King writes and speaks about the thinking and feeling abilities of animals ranging from orangutans to octopuses. In her own words: "After 28 years of teaching anthropology at the College of William and Mary, I'm now a full-time freelance science writer and speaker and cat rescuer. I've observed baboons in Kenya, and gorillas and bonobos in captivity. I focus on how the science of animal cognition and emotion might help animals.
"My books take up topics ranging from animal grief to who (not what) we eat and how religion evolved, tied together by my focus on animals. I wrote weekly for six years for NPR about science, and my work has appeared in Scientific American (most recently in the March 2019 issue), Aeon and Undark magazines."
As she tells it, Juna Kollmeier believes "all humans have an inalienable right to know about their world. For the past two decades, I have been studying the cosmos -- from planets to galaxies to black holes. I am currently making a new map of the sky -- the fifth generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey."
Led to a career in astrophysics by "a STEM camp in Michigan," Kollmeier studied at Caltech and Ohio State University, training with some of the world's leading astronomers. Her research focuses on the emergence of structure in the universe on multiple scales and how the tiny fluctuations in density that were present when the universe was only 300,000 old [became] the stars, galaxies and black holes that we see now.
Daniel Lismore is known for living his life as art. His elaborate and extravagant ensembles brilliantly combine haute couture with vintage fabrics, found objects, chainmail, ethnic jewellery, millinery and more in an expression of eccentric, creative energy.
Lismore has been named by Vogue as England's most eccentric dresser. A prominent fixture on the London fashion and art circuits, he is both a tastemaker and friend to artists ranging from Stephen Fry and Debbie Harry to Boy George and Edward Enninful. In 2016, he was the face of H&M's "Close the Loop" Campaign to help encourage recycling of clothes. Lismore's personal wardrobe archive highlight his commitment to sustainable fashion.
Lismore is the author of Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken.
During his PhD research at Berkeley, David Liu initiated the first general effort to expand the genetic code in living cells. He has published more than 170 papers and is an inventor on 65 issued US patents.
Liu's research integrates chemistry and evolution to illuminate biology and enable next-generation therapeutics. His major research interests include development and use of genome-editing technologies to study and treat genetic diseases; the evolution of proteins with novel therapeutic potential; and the discovery of bioactive synthetic molecules using DNA-encoded libraries. Base editing, phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) and DNA-templated synthesis are technologies pioneered in his laboratory. Liu has also cofounded six biotechnology and therapeutics companies, including Editas Medicine, Pairwise Plants and Beam Therapeutics. He grew up in Riverside, California, where playing with insects in his backyard crystallized his interest in science.
Eric Liu says that "I write, speak, teach and create joyful programs to spread the belief that a strong democracy requires strong citizens."
As the founder and CEO of Citizen University, Liu working to spark a civic revival in the US and beyond. As he tells it: "I've served in government, from the White House to the Seattle Public Library Board. I've been a leader in people-powered movements for gun reform, a 15-dollar minimum wage and better civic education. I've written books about democracy, power and race.
"Now I run a nonprofit called Citizen University to foster a stronger culture of civic responsibility. Our team works with people from the left and right to teach civic power and cultivate civic character -- and to remind people that democracy works only if most people believe democracy works."
According to Beau Lotto, "I have pretty much two aims: to create doubt through the awareness of perception, and to create space for holding that uncertainty. At its core, that's what science is: it celebrates not knowing in an attempt to find better questions.
"What if we could apply the same way of being to everything we do? What might happen if we entered conflict with a curiosity instead of an anger? The barrier to doing so is that we hate not knowing. But fortunately, evolution gave us a solution to that fear: namely, awe. Understanding how awe and wonder facilitate perception and our perceptual creations is what [my] work in neuroscience is all about."
Frank Luntz's focus groups have become so influential that presidential candidate Barack Obama had this to say following the PBS presidential debate: "When Frank Luntz invites you to talk to his focus group, you talk to his focus group."
He has been a guest on virtually every talk show in America, including multiple appearances on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher. Since 2007, Luntz has been the 'Focus Group Czar' for Fox News, conducting over 100 sessions in more than 20 states.
Luntz's New York Times best sellers include What Americans Really Want... Really, "which addresses the private hopes, dreams and fears of the American people," and Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.
Kishore Mahbubani is Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He advises and serves a variety of global institutions, including the Yale University President's Council on International Activities (PCIA). From 1984-1989 and 1998-2004, he was Singapore's Permanent Representative to the UN, and served twice as President of the UN Security Council during the second term.
Merle Maigre is responsible for government relations at CybExer Technologies, an Estonian cybersecurity company. Before this, she served as the Director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn -- a multinational and interdisciplinary cyber defense hub, with a focus on technology, strategy, operations and law.
Prior to that post, Maigre worked for five years as the Security Policy Adviser to Estonian Presidents Kersti Kaljulaid and Toomas Hendrik Ilves. She was the President's chief advisor on domestic and international security issues, including cyber defence developments and challenges. She also served at NATO HQ in the Policy Planning Unit of the Private Office of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and, prior to that, worked as a researcher at a think-tank in Tallinn.
Andrew Marantz became a staff writer at the New Yorker in 2017. Prior to that, he worked on the magazine's editorial staff, splitting his time between writing stories (about such topics as hip-hop purism and the Truman Show delusion) and editing stories (about Las Vegas night clubs, Liberian warlords and many other things). Ultimately, Marantz's main interest lies not in any particular subject matter, but in how people form beliefs -- and under what circumstances those beliefs can change for the better.
Since 2016, Marantz has been at work on a book about the perils of virality, the myth of linear progress and the American far right. To report the book, he spent several years embedded with some of the conspiracists, white supremacists and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agendas. He also watched as some of social media's earliest and most influential founders started to reckon with the forces they'd unleashed. The book, forthcoming in October from Viking Press, is called Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.
Marantz is also a contributor to Radiolab and The New Yorker Radio Hour, and has written for Harper's, Mother Jones, the New York Times and many other outlets. He holds an undergraduate degree in religion from Brown University and a master's degree in literary nonfiction from New York University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, who is a criminal-justice reformer; his two-year-old son, who is an excellent dancer; and an endless supply of peanut butter.
Rahul Mehrotra is an architect working from Mumbai and Boston, where he also teaches at Harvard University. His work covers a range of buildings, from houses to institutional to office buildings. A recent project was a housing estate for 100 elephants and their caretakers in Jaipur, India.
Mehrotra is passionate about writing. He's written several books on the history and architecture of Mumbai, including Architecture In India Since 1990. He's also written on urbanism in India and is currently working on a book on his experiences as a practitioner in India.
According to Herman Narula, "I have always been interested in how technology can enable creativity and solve tough problems, and I've always loved video games." With co-founder Rob Whitehead, "who shared my excitement ... [for] creating the next generation of games and virtual spaces," he founded Improbable, which created SpatialOS.
SpatialOS is a tool for developers and gaming studios like Midwinter Entertainment, Klang Games and Bossa Studios to "add innovation to online games -- from short, team-based matches to huge, persistent shared environments. Our goal is to help build the complex, interactive and highly connected virtual worlds where billions of people will meet, play and find real meaning in the near future."
Senegalese scientist Dr. Sidy Ndao leveraged a love of math into a career at the cutting edge of nanotechnology research. Today, Ndao directs the Nano & Micro-systems Research Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studies two-phase heat transfer, nanoengineered surfaces, thermal computing, and microfluidics. The World Economic Forum recently listed him as one of ten young scientists shaping the future.
In addition to his engineering work, Ndao is passionate about promoting STEM education in Africa. He's the founder of the Dakar American University of Science & Technology in Senegal and the Pan-African Robotics Competition, a camp which teaches kids how to build and operate their own robots.
In her own words, Brittany Packnett is "an unapologetic black woman and disciple of radical, productive candor. I found, through prayer and practice, that my purpose in life is to speak and teach truth that moves people to action for the sake of freedom and justice. I am agnostic about the platform, but faithful to the truth.
"I cohost Pod Save The People, write weekly for Teen Vogue and others, speak across the world, colead Campaign Zero [and] lead Teach For America's team supporting marginalized communities ... I share 'Morning Readings' three days a week on Instagram to share the overlooked stories and issues of our day, tweet more than I should and organize and activate alongside oppressed communities."
As director and founder of Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL), Jamie Paik taps a deep knowledge of fabrication and "unique actuation solutions" to create astonishing folding robots -- or, as she describes them: "robogamis ... self-morphing robotic origami that transform their planar shapes to 2D or 3D by folding in predefined patterns and sequences, just like the paper art, origami."
Paik is an active promoter of soft robotics that combines multi-discipline engineering expertise. Her soft robots have commercial applications, including a robotic surgical tool and a haptic joystick that can render realistic force feedback beneath a user's fingertip.
Priya Parker is helping us take a deeper look at how anyone can create collective meaning in modern life, one gathering at a time. A group conflict mediator, she's spent 15 years helping leaders and communities have complicated conversations during times of heat and transition. Frustrated by dull and disappointing gatherings, Parker set out to rewrite the rule book for creating transformative group experiences.
Parker interviewed more than 100 gatherers and wove together their wisdom and her own experiences in her acclaimed book The Art of Gathering. She has worked on racial dialogues on American campuses and peace-building projects in India, Africa and the Arab world.
Ivan Poupyrev has invented, developed and brought to market a number of breakthrough technologies that allow for blending of digital and physical interactivity in devices and everyday analog objects.
Now Director of Engineering in Google ATAP, Poupyrev leads a team of designers and engineers who are inventing new technologies that will redefine how we interact with both our physical and digital lives.
In 2013, Fast Company recognized Poupyrev as one of the world's greatest interaction designers. His most recent work was acquired for the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
Janelle Shane's humor blog, AIweirdness.com. looks at, as she tells it, "the strange side of artificial intelligence." Her upcoming book, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How AI Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place, uses cartoons and humorous pop-culture experiments to look inside the minds of the algorithms that run our world, making artificial intelligence and machine learning both accessible and entertaining.
According to Sane, she "has only made a neural network-written recipe once -- and discovered that horseradish brownies are about as terrible as you might imagine."
Emmett Shear is also a part-time partner at venture capital firm Y Combinator, where he advises startups on product and strategy. He graduated from Yale University in 2005 with a degree in computer science and was included in Forbes's annual "30 under 30" list in 2012.
In Jonny Sun's own words: "I am a creative person who believes that working across multiple fields and modes is essential to creating work that speaks to the increasingly expansive society in which we live. That's why I'm pursuing a PhD at MIT and making art about artificial intelligence with the metaLAB at Harvard -- ask me about The Laughing Room, which is a self-aware sitcom set that plays a laugh track based on what you say in the room."
Sun does all this while "also writing television (I write for the Netflix original series BoJack Horseman), film (I'm currently writing the screenplay for an original idea with Fox Family and Chernin Entertainment) and books (I wrote and illustrated a best-selling graphic novel Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too [and] illustrated Lin-Manuel Miranda's GMorning, Gnight!). I've never felt that the multi-hyphenate description of screenwriter/humorist/author/artist/researcher/technologist made much sense to me."
Since the late 1990s, Sarah Sze has developed a signature visual language that challenges the static nature of sculpture. She draws from Modernist traditions of the found object, dismantling their authority with dynamic constellations of materials that are charged with flux, transformation and fragility. Her work simultaneously models and navigates the ceaseless proliferation of information in contemporary life. Her installations unfold like a series of experiments that construct intimate systems of order -- precarious ecologies in which material conveys meaning and a sense of loss.
Widely recognized for challenging the boundaries of painting, installation and architecture, Sze's sculptural practice ranges from slight gestures discovered in hidden spaces to expansive installations that scale walls and colonize architectures. She represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2013 and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003 and a Radcliffe Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in museums worldwide, with works held in the permanent collections of prominent institutions. In 2016, Sze completed a permanent commission for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 2nd Avenue subway line, 96th street station. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and lives and works in New York City.
When Edward Tenner cites "the advantages of creative mistakes and serendipity," he speaks from the experience of shifting from the fast track to the scenic route after receiving his PhD during the academic retrenchment of the 1970s. After a scientific publishing career leading to a university press executive editorship, he finally decided, with help from the Guggenheim Foundation, to begin writing his own books as a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Tenner's books -- including Why Things Bite Back, Our Own Devices, and his 2018 book, The Efficiency Paradox: What Big Data Can't Do -- reflect his faith that sometimes things can go right only by first going very wrong.
As Baratunde Thurston says, "I call myself a 'futurist comedian' because I've always felt I've had one foot in the future and because I have a comedic lens on just about every form of expression I employ. My mother was a computer programmer who embedded in me an activist strain. You can see it in my book, How to Be Black, or my vocal advocacy for causes like the DREAM Act or New York City's CLOSE Rikers campaign. I've been part of some incredible institutions like the MIT Media Lab and TED, and I've sought to use my access to the future to comment on it and shape it for the better. At core, I'm able to communicate and perform using humor to hold heavy or complex ideas. I've trained among the best at The Onion, The Daily Show and the United States, which sadly, is becoming more of a joke every day."
On November 8, 2016, Michael Tubbs was elected to serve as the mayor of the City of Stockton, California. Upon taking office in January 2017, Michael Tubbs became both Stockton’s youngest mayor and the city’s first African-American mayor.
Included in Fortune's 2018 "40 under 40," Forbes' 2018 list of the "30 Under 30" and The Root's 100, Tubbs's leadership, paired with an ambitious agenda, has received national recognition.
Tubbs has secured over $20 million in philanthropic capital to launch the Stockton Scholars, a place-based scholarship that aims to triple the number of Stockton students entering and graduating from college. Tubbs also brought Advance Peace to Stockton, a data-driven program that works to reduce gun violence in communities. Additionally, with an innovative public-private partnership supported by a $1,000,000 seed grant from the Economic Security Project, Tubbs launched the nation’s first municipal level basic income pilot, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration.
Before becoming mayor, Tubbs served as Stockton's District 6 City Councilmember. Elected at age 22 in 2013, he became one of the youngest city councilmembers in the country. As a councilmember, Tubbs created the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, championed the creation of the City's Office of Violence Prevention and was part of the council that led the city out of bankruptcy as Chair of the Audit and Legislative Committee.
Tubbs graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with a bachelor's and master's degree with honors. He has been a college course instructor for Aspire Public Schools and a Fellow at the Stanford Institute of Design and the Emerson Collective. He is a Stockton native and product of Stockton public schools.
Hamdi Ulukaya was raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey. He launched Chobani in 2007 with the mission and vision of making better food more accessible. In less than five years, Chobani became the number-one selling Greek yogurt brand in the US, with more than a billion dollars in annual sales.
An advocate of reducing income and wealth inequality nationwide, Ulukaya implemented innovative profit-sharing and paid parental leave programs for Chobani's 2,000 employees. He founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees to improve the lives of more than 25 million refugees around the globe. He also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to the cause.
Anthony Veneziale is a founding member of American Immigrants (SF). He has used improv techniques for endeavors with Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights, The Electric Company), Daveed Diggs (The Freeze) and on numerous networks like HBO, TBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, PBS. Veneziale also co-founded speechlessinc.com, an improv-thinking San Francisco-based company.
As Venkataraman writes: "For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the story of the planet -- and how the future of humanity depends on it. As a writer, I explore what opportunities and threats we face as we look to the future, from gene-editing to the climate crisis. I do this by marshaling true stories and cutting-edge research."
Previously, as a leader in the Obama White House, Venkataraman built partnerships among communities, companies and government to prepare for coming pandemics, wildfires, droughts and rising seas. In 2014, she launched the White House Climate Data Initiative to bring actionable climate science to people making decisions around the world. Previously, she was a science journalist for the New York Times and The Boston Globe. Now, she teaches students at MIT to use their scientific knowledge in service of society. She aspires to help more people shape their own future -- and that of future generations -- for the better.
Venkataraman is the author of The Optimist's Telescope, which will be published by Riverhead in August 2019.
Matthew Walker's research examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease. He got his PhD from the Medical Research Council in London, UK, and subsequently became a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He's currently a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.
Walker has received funding awards from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he's a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He has shared his research on the importance of sleep on television and radio outlets including CBS's "60 Minutes," National Geographic, NOVA Science, NRP and the BBC. He is the author of the international bestseller Why We Sleep.
Claire Wardle is a research fellow at TED working on a new initiative to help improve the quality of information online. She is also the Executive Chair of First Draft, a nonprofit dedicated to educating journalists about reporting in an age of information disorder. Previously, she was a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School; the head of social media for the UN Refugee Agency; and director of news services for Storyful. Wardle holds a PhD in communication and an MA in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Despite being raised by "old-school Southerners" who would've preferred she embarked on a sensible career, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson tells us that "I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was around seven years old. I loved everything about stories -- how they made me feel and think, the joy good ones brought both the listener and the teller, the double and deeper meanings ... I knew writing made me happiest, and wrote as often as I could.
"Now, when I'm not writing, I'm out speaking about writing. I write for young people and old people. I write for magazines, newspapers. I write speeches and plays. I do this because it's never not joyful for me."