x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
November 29, 2011
9:00am - 5:00pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
New York, NY
United States

TEDxColumbiaEngineering - Columbia University's independently organized TED event - will bring to light ideas worth spreading. A day filled with presentations by some of the foremost minds will seek to spark conversation, thought and productive exchange among bright intellectuals who participate. From organic chemistry to economics, and from engineering to entertainment, the talks will highlight areas that are at the frontiers of innovation today.

Innovating Social Change Set to be held at the Miller Theater of Columbia's Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan, TEDxColumbiaEngineering hopes to establish channels of communication between students and professors, between prospective entrepreneurs and investors. The three sessions, health, sustainability, and technology information will allow undergraduate and graduate students to learn about the latest ideas in these field as well as how to convert their inventions into successful ventures and enterprises.

Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center
Columbia University
New York, NY, 10027
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Steve McGill

Stephen is a second year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying humanoid robotics and human robot interaction under Professor Dan Lee. As part of Team DARwIn, he captured the first place medal at the international RoboCup humanoid soccer competition in Istanbul, Turkey this past summer. Steve is interested in applying this robotic technology for deployment in the field for human intercommunication.

Herbert Chase

For over thirty years, Herbert Chase, MD, MA, has been teaching clinical medicine and basic science to medical students, interns and residents, and junior and senior faculty at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is a board certified Internist and Nephrologist who spent the early part of his career as a basic scientist. After shifting his interest from research to education, he directed and participated in several major medical school courses. In 2000 he left Columbia University and was appointed the first Deputy Dean for Education at Yale School of Medicine where he introduced several major programmatic changes. In 2006 he returned to Columbia to enter the Masters program in Biomedical Informatics as an NLM-funded Post Doctoral Fellow. Dr. Chase has been recognized for his outstanding teaching with many awards including the Presidential Teaching Award of Columbia University.

David Newman

Dr. Newman is the Director of Clinical Research in the Emergency Department at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and an Iraq war veteran. In addition to being widely published in medical journals he has written health care articles for the New York Times and is the author of Hippocrates' Shadow: Secrets From the House of Medicine. For the past ten years he has concentrated his work in medical evidence translation and appraisal. He is also the editor-in-chief for two online publications,, a resource for health care evidence summaries, and SMART-EM, a monthly audio review. He lives in New York City with his wife and teaches at both Mount Sinai School of Medicine and at Columbia University.

Elisa Konofagou

Dr. Konofagou received her B.Sc. (Licence) in Chemical Physics from Université de Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris VI in Paris, France and her M.Sc. at Imperial College of Physics, Engineering and Medicine in Biomedical Engineering in 1992 and 1993, respectively. In 1999, Dr. Konofagou received her Ph.D. from the University of Houston in Biomedical Engineering for her work in elastography at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, TX and then pursued her postdoctoral work in elasticity-based monitoring of focused ultrasound therapy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. Professor Konofagou is currently an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Ultrasound and Elasticity Imaging Laboratory at Columbia University. She is also a member of the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, the Acoustical Society of America and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. Her main interests are in the development of novel elasticity imaging techniques and applications, and more notably, breast elastography, ligament elastography, myocardial elastography, harmonic motion imaging and focused ultrasound therapy with several close clinical collaborations in the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

Helen Epstein

Helen Epstein is an independent consultant in public health and a freelance writer and adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She has advised numerous organizations on HIV prevention and public health in developing countries, including the United States Agency for International Development, The World Bank and UNICEF. Her articles on public health in developing countries have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and other magazines. Her bookThe Invisible Cure: Why we are Losing the Fight against AIDS in Africa (hardback title: The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West and the Fight against AIDS) was published in paperback by Picador in 2008. The hardback was a New York Times Notable Book of 2007 and rated the #1 Science Book of 2007 by the editors at

Mike Gann

Intel World Ahead Program Intel's World Ahead Program: Conneting People to a World of Opportunity

Dickson Despommier

Professor Despommier was born in New Orleans in 1940, and grew up in California before moving to the New York area, where he now lives and works. He hs a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame. For 27 years, he has conducted laboratory-based biomedical research at Columbia University with NIH-sponsored support. and is now an emeritus professor. He has always been interested in the environment and the damage we have caused by the simple act of encroachment. At present, he is am engaged in a project whose mission is to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers (see: and The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st century, hardcover, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, New York; soft cover, Picadore Press, October, 2011). This initiative has grown in acceptance over the last few years to the point of stimulating planners and developers around the world to incorporate them into their vision for the future city. To date, there are four vertical farms up and running in Japan, Korea, Seattle, and Chicago, with many more in the planning stage. It is his hope that vertical farming will become commonplace throughout the built environment on a global scale.

Peter Fusaro

Peter C. Fusaro is a best selling author, keynote speaker and thought leader on emerging energy and environmental financial markets. He is Chairman of Global Change Associates an energy and environmental consultancy in New York since 1991 and is the best selling author of What Went Wrong at Enron as well as 15 other books on energy and the environmental financial markets. Peter's latest book will be published in 2010 by Oxford University Press on Energy and Environmental Project Finance Law and Taxation: New Investment Techniques. Peter is has been on the forefront of energy and environmental change for over 36 years focusing emissions, energy efficiency, cleantech, carbon trading and renewable energy markets. Peter has worked over 20 years on climate change issues and is currently advising on carbon trading and finance as well as clean energy technology and renewable energy to companies worldwide. Peter was selected for Who's Who in America for 2007-2012 and Who's Who in the World for 2009-2012. He coined the term "Green Trading" and holds the annual Wall Street Green Summit XI each spring ( Peter is advisor to 8 cleantech software and hardware companies in the US and UK. In 2009, Peter launched the Global Change Foundation focused on environmental education and projects ( and held its first Green Jobs Summit in March 2010. The foundation also runs the Green Salon where artists perform and environmental experts speak. Peter graduated with an MA in international relations from Tufts University and a BA from Carnegie-Mellon University. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs where he teaches renewable energy project finance. He is on the Advisory Board of the ERB Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan as well as on the Board of Trustees of the UN's Energy & Water Institute of New York.

Kartik Chandran

Kartik Chandran is an Environmental Engineer. He is currently Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University, where he leads the Columbia University Biomolecular Environmental Science program and the Wastewater Treatment and Climate Change program. Under his stewardship, the research directions of biological wastewater treatment and biological nitrogen removal were established for the first time ever in the history of Columbia University. Chandran is keenly interested in developing novel models for sustainable sanitation and wastewater treatment, with a specific focus on managing the global nitrogen cycle (one of the grand challenges of the National Academy of Engineering) and linking it to the carbon cycle, the water cycle and the energy cycle. Chandran has received, among other awards, the NSF CAREER award and the Paul Busch Award. He was the recipient of a 2007 National Academies of Science Fellowship and a guest professorship at the Delft University of Technology. In 2011, Chandran began implementing a novel model for sanitation in Africa, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Water Environment Federation.

John Walker

Educated in Physics and Engineering, John has held senior roles in BAE Systems, where he was responsible for airborne Radar products, and Pentland Systems, where he held Board-level posts as Marketing Director and Technical Director. At Pentland Systems, John helped secure venture financing and the eventual sale of the business to a major industry partner. In addition to developing the company's prime sales channel in South-East Asia, John also managed the engineering team, leading the core R&D efforts to develop three new, groundbreaking signal acquisition products. Subsequently, John worked in venture capital and private equity for Chart Group in New York City, contributing to venture & LBO deals worth over $200m. John specialized in financial analysis and deal structuring of potential investments and contributed his entrepreneurial experience to the development of portfolio companies. Since joining Echoing Green in 2009 as Director of Finance, John has significantly increased his exposure to the social enterprise sector and sought to utilize his skills and experience in delivering increased impact through investment in socially-oriented, sustainable businesses. John also consults as Finance Director for Hot Bread Kitchen, a revolutionary NYC-based social enterprise creating better lives for low-income women and their families. John graduated from the EMBA-Global program at Columbia and London Business Schools in 2008 and received the Distinguished Service Award for his service to the schools. John is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs specializing in investment in social enterprises.

Xavier Salaimartin

Xavier SalaiMartin is the Jerome and Matthew Grossman Professor of Development Economics, Columbia University in New York and a visiting professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. He is also the Chief Economic Advisor for the World Economic Forum at Davos. He was formerly the President of Futbol Club Barcelona besides serving as it's treasurer and a member of it's board of directors. He has founded the UMBELE Foundation, a Non-Profit and Non-Government Organization dedicated to help citizens of Africa ( Xavier has been the recipient of many awards including the King Juan Carlos I prize (awarded by the Bank of Spain the best economist in Spain and Latin America), the Ken Arrow Prize 2000 (awarded to the best Health Economic paper in the world) and the Godo de Periodismo (awarded to the best newspaper article of the year in Spain). He has a PhD in economics from Harvard university.

Toby Cumberbatch

Toby Cumberbatch has taught at The Cooper Union since 1994 as a member of the Electrical Engineering department. He founded the Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture – Materials, Manufacturing and Minimalism (SEA2M3) in 2005 to bring together students from the schools of Engineering, Art and Architecture to focus on problems that address the fundamental needs of energy, water and shelter in very poor communities in the less industrialized countries. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana and a visiting professor at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, Rwanda. Toby travels regularly to East and West Africa, taking students to Northern Ghana to work on energy and water audits, defluoridation filters, solar lighting systems, low energy housing and improved wood stoves.

Eitan Grinspun

Eitan Grinspun is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University in the City of New York. He was Professeur d'Université Invité at l'Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 2009, a Research Scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences from 2003-2004, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology from 1997-2003, and an Engineering Science undergraduate at the University of Toronto. He was an NVIDIA Fellow in 2001, an Everhart Distinguished Lecturer in 2003, an NSF CAREER Award recipient in 2007, is currently an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and one of Popular Science magazine's 2011 "Brilliant Ten." The simulation technologies developed by Grinspun's group are seen in blockbuster movies from the major studios and experienced in consumer products such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Henning Schulzrinne

Prof. Henning Schulzrinne received degrees from Darmstadt (Germany) University of Technology, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He has held research positions at GMD Fokus, Berlin and Bell Laboratories before joining the faculty of Columbia University, New York. From 2004 until 2009, he chaired the Department of Computer Science and is now Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Computer Science. From 2010, he has also served as an Engineering Fellow at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). His research interests encompass real-time network services, ubiquitous and mobile computing and network reliability. He is a co-author of more than 50 RFCs, including RTP, RTSP, SIP and GIST.

Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen teaches journalism at New York University, where he has been on the faculty since 1986. From 1999 to 2004 he was chair of the department. He is the author of PressThink, a blog about journalism's ordeals in the age of the Web, which he launched in 2003 ( In 1999, Yale University Press published his book, What Are Journalists For, which was about the rise of the civic journalism movement. In 2008, he was the co-publisher, with Arianna Huffington, of OffTheBus.Net, which brought citizen journalism to campaign coverage. Rosen has a Ph.D in media studies from NYU. He writes and speaks frequently about new media and the predicament of the press in a time of rapid transformation. On Twitter he is @jayrosen_nyu

Sinan Aral

Sinan Aral is an Assistant Professor and Microsoft Faculty Fellow at the NYU Stern School of Business. He studies how behavioral contagions spread through social networks – from products to productivity to public health. His novel research on information and behavioral diffusion in massive networks is being applied to a variety of fields including epidemiology, innovation management, organizational performance and development economics. This research has won numerous awards including the Microsoft Faculty Fellowship (2010), the PopTech Science and Public Leaders Fellowship (2010), an NSF Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (2009), the IBM Faculty Award (2009), the ACM SIGMIS Best Dissertation Award (2007), and four Best Paper Awards at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS). Sinan has been a Fulbright Scholar, serves as Chief Scientist of SocialAmp, a social commerce company that enables targeting and peer referral in social media networks, and is currently an organizer of the Workshop on Information in Networks (WIN): His work has been published in leading journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, IEEE Intelligent Systems, Information Systems Research, Management Science, Marketing Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Science, Organization Science, the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review, and been mentioned in popular press outlets such as the Economist, the New York Times, Businessweek, Wired and CIO Magazine. Sinan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University and holds masters degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard University. He received his PhD from MIT. You can follow him on Twitter @sinanaral.

Jake Porway

Jake Porway is the data scientist at the New York Times R&D Lab where he finds meaning in large streams of data and researches the future of media. He is also the founder of Data Without Borders, an initiative that connects conscientious data volunteers with social organizations so they can better accomplish their missions. He is a passionate advocate for the open data movement, loves the happy mingling of art and technology, and will totally trounce you at Guitar Hero. Jake received his B.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in Statistics from UCLA.

Omar Haroun

Omar Haroun is a MBA/JD candidate at Columbia University and a graduate of Oxford University and University of California Berkeley. Currently, Omar is CEO and Founder of Sportaneous, a company whose mission is to make it easier for people to exercise in the ways that they most enjoy. The Sportaneous platform combines a database of fitness activities with intelligence about a user's location, schedule, social graphs, and preferences to make exercising convenient and social. Omar recently received the 'Champions of Change Award' from the United States White House for his work in applying technological innovation to a public health solution. A serial social entrepreneur, Omar has started several organizations throughout his life, and plans to start several more. When Omar is not working he can be found playing basketball, promoting entrepreneurship, eating good food, or reading/discussing philosophy, economics, psychology, or technology.

Dave Lerner

Dave is the Director of the Venture Lab at Columbia University Tech Ventures where he has spun-out 60+ technology start-ups over the last six years. He's a 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and is also host of Venture Studio where he interviews the entrepreneurs, investors, writers & personalities that comprise New York City's entrepreneurial ecosystem. In his personal blog,, he explores the worlds of university/student entrepreneurship, angel/venture investing, and is a frequent contributor to peHub, Huffington Post and Business Insider, whose SAI group recently named him one of the "top 100 most influential New Yorkers in the digital business community". He serves on the Boards of New York Tech Meetup and the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School, as a Mentor at BluePrint Health, and as Organizer of both the New York Venture Community and Columbia Venture Community.

Rachael Chong

Rachael is the Founder and CEO of Catchafire, the world's first and largest online pro bono service provider that matches professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits and social entrepreneurs that need pro bono business services. Previously an investment banker, and prior to starting Catchafire, Rachael helped start-up BRAC USA, the US affiliate of BRAC, the largest nonprofit organization in the world, where she created a strategy to effectively mobilize a dozen skills-based volunteers that freed up her and the President & CEO's time to raise $40 million in less than nine months. Fresh off her success with BRAC USA, Rachael founded Catchafire, a New York City-based social mission business and a certified B-Corporation, with the vision to make it easy for every professional to use their skills for good, and to make it easy for every nonprofit and social enterprise to access and effectively use pro bono as a way to build capacity within their organization. Rachael has a Masters of Public Policy Degree from Duke University and graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University. Born in Australia, Rachael grew up all over Asia. She writes for the Huffington Post.

Organizing team


New York, NY, United States


New York, NY, United States
  • Dmitriy Timerman
  • Andrew Kang
    Director of Sponsorship
  • Charlotte Crawford
    Director of Speaker Selection (Technology and Information Session)
  • Genevieve Brown
    Director of Speaker Selection (Health Session)
  • Akshay Shah
    Director of Speaker Selection (Sustainability Session)
  • Sonal Shetkar
    Director of Logistics
  • Ryan Gallagher
  • Kurry Tran
  • Alessia Morales
    Co-Director of Publicity