x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Celebrating Curiosity

This event occurred on
February 11, 2012
11:00am - 4:30pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
Gainesville, FL
United States

Our theme “Celebrating Curiosity,” is about the ways in which we thirst for knowledge and how that thirst has played a role in the accomplishments of TEDxUF’s speakers.

Phillips Center for Performing Arts
315 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL, 32611
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Eric Ford

For centuries, human understanding of planetary systems was informed by only a single example, our own. With the discovery of planetary systems around distant stars, astronomers have uncovered a surprising diversity of planets and recognized that many basic properties of our solar system are not universal. In 2009, NASA’s Kepler mission began searching for Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. Ford will share the challenges and highlights of this mission, plus how its discoveries are reshaping our understanding of the origins of our solar system. Eric Ford is an astrophysicist and associate professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Florida (UF), where he leads a research group specializing in characterizing extrasolar planets and their implications for planet formation. Ford earned Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Physics from MIT in 1999. He completed his Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton in 2003 focusing on the design and analysis of exoplanet searches. In 2007, NASA selected Prof. Ford to be a Participating Scientist for the Kepler Mission. In 2011 the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences honored Ford with the Harold Urey prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist.

Jacob Atem

As one of the original Lost Boys of Sudan, Jacob will share his experience about the journey from Sudan to Ethiopia to Kenya and finally immigrating to the United States. In this powerful celebration of learning and heartfelt gratitude to his roots, Jacob will tell a story that is as unique as any you’ve ever heard. Jacob Atem is a “Lost Boy of Sudan” and was brought to the United States where he settled in Michigan as a refugee and placed in a foster home. He attended and graduated from Webberville High School (WHS) and attended Spring Arbor University (SAU). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and a Masters of Public Health degree from Michigan State University (MSU). Currently, Jacob Atem is a first year PhD student at University of Florida (UF) and he is married to Linda James and now resides in Gainesville Florida. In his spare time, Jacob travels across the country speaking at colleges, schools, community events, and houses of worship bringing awareness to the atrocities being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan and promoting his non-profit organization, the Southern Sudan Health Care Organization (www.sshco.org). SSHCO has been set up to support the people of Southern Sudan by providing healthcare facilities, education, and supplies.

Michael Jones

New developments in copyright law and open content licensing have changed the way we think about media and information. For the first time in human history, we can share information, media, and art at the click of a button. Sharing doesn’t degrade the original, it can give credit, or even send wealth and fame, to the creator, and our ability to access it is virtually unlimited. This talk will explore the most exciting implications, latest developments, and useful techniques for one of the most important skills of the future: Sharing. Michael Jones started Open Equal Free in 2011 in the hopes of spreading his passion for education and the power of open content. He is working to develop the world’s largest and best database of open educational resources while also working closely with nonprofits in the developing world to improve the work they do. His goal is to make great education Open, Equal, and Free to everyone in the world, especially the developing world.

Cynthia Barnett

Think of Earth’s freshwater, and what comes to mind are lakes, rivers and springs. But globally and locally, the relative amount of surface water is tiny compared with the vast stores of groundwater that flow beneath our feet in aquifers. Rivers and springs are the hypertext of water – fluent human connections to the bounty underneath. These portals among springs and the world’s water, hypertext and the world’s information, are more than metaphoric. Water journalist Cynthia Barnett explores in 12 minutes how nature is vital to technical creativity – by showing how the springs of North Florida cascaded insight from William Bartram’s journals to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem Kubla Khan to Ted Nelson, the computer-networking visionary who coined the term “hypertext.” Cynthia Barnett is a long-time journalist who has reported on freshwater issues from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is author of the new book Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, which calls for a water ethic for America. The Boston Globe recently named Blue Revolution one of the top science books of 2011. Ms. Barnett’s previous book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named by The St. Petersburg Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read.

Kristen Hadeed

When most of us were children we kept ourselves occupied with games, television, and barbies. Kristen Hadeed was not like most kids. In this talk, Kristen will show how listening to your inner child can take you places beyond your wildest dreams. After all, this young entrepreneur had it all figured out before her 10th birthday. After her graduation from the University of Florida in May 2010, Kristen remains extremely active in the Gainesville community. She serves as a Chamber Diplomat, is on the Small Business Advisory Council, is an Ambassador for the Builders’ Association, and is a Board Member for the Gainesville Area Women’s Network. Kristen now lends her experience to help other local startups succeed. She is the Transition and Progression Planning Resource at the Center for Innovation and Economic Development business incubator where she helps other startups plan for growth and expansion. Student Maid was named the 2010 and 2011 Leading Women’s Enterprise by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, making it the first repeat winner in this category. Kristen was recently named a recipient of HOME Magazine’s “13 Going on 30” award and was also named one of the “25 Most Interesting People in Gainesville” by Insite Magazine.

Michael Blachly

This talk will shed light on the inspiring story of Chords of Color, a musical collaboration program that celebrates uniquely human desire for creative expression and live performance. There’s one remarkable commonality to the artists- they have all either survived cancer or are currently living with the disease. Since arriving in Gainesville in 2000 from UCLA Performing Arts, Dr. Michael Blachly has expanded the live performing arts for the Heart of Florida community in his position as Director of University of Florida Performing Arts. Dr. Blachly holds a BA in Speech and Theatre/Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, an MA in Communication Theory/Sociology, from Washington State University, and a PhD in Educational Psychology/Higher Education Administration from the University of Tennessee.

Abhi Lokesh

Abhi Lokesh had a diverse college career that started in material science research labs working with NASA and ended in non-profit work in the sub-saharan plains of Swaziland, Africa. Upon his return from Africa, Abhi co-founded Fracture with the goal of changing the way we print and frame our favorite digital images. He has spent the past 3 years working with his team to build Fracture into an enduring company that will pioneer cutting-edge photo products for the Digital Age. Starting a company is not easy, but it’s an adventure like none other. In this talk, Abhi Lokesh is going to break down his ongoing journey into TEDBits, bite-sized nuggets of wisdom that highlight the greatest lessons he’s learning as he continues to ride the startup roller coaster.

Morris Morrison

In this talk, Morris Morrison will demonstrate the subjective nature of what it means to be successful. Morris will draw on his life story to show how even in the bleakest circumstances we can count on our instincts and curiosity to guide us to safety. This presentation will show you how to impact the world by using your uniquely individual gifts. Morris Morrison’s life story reads like a Hollywood script. He was orphaned as a child in New York City by the death of his birth parents and was later orphaned a second time by the loss of his adoptive parents. Morris used this perfect storm of events to unleash something new into his life – motivation. After completing his Bachelors of Psychology from Fairmont State University and his Masters in Business from West Virginia University, Morris continued his learning and development in Corporate America. Today, Morris enjoys his career as a motivational speaker with The Morris Morrison Development Group, LLC, his high-energy inspiration & leadership development program that has positioned him as one of the most demanded speakers in the market.

Shaun Finn

Mankind’s quest for knowledge has led to many discoveries and inventions that have expanded our horizon. The tools developed and the desire that drives the prerequisite inquiry have grown simultaneously. These innovations have changed our view and understanding of the known world. By taking a look at the development of the telescope from the very beginning, Shaun will uncover the importance of the tools we use in the pursuit of answers. Shaun is an Accounting graduate student here at University of Florida. Shaun likes to avoid boredom by having lots of fun. He tries to live by the golden rule and loves meeting new people. A good day for Shaun is a day when he gets to go outside to enjoy nature, get a tan, improve something old, and achieve something new.

John Spence

What does it take to rebound from abject failure? What do you do when your life is drifting so far off course that it feels like you might not be able to get it turned around? In this talk John Spence will share with you what he discovered that completely turned his life around (What he calls: “the single most important thing I have ever learned”) and several other key insights into what it takes to build a highly successful, happy, joyful and balanced life. After a very rocky start in college, John went on to graduate in the top three in the country in his major and be named the CEO of an international Rockefeller Foundation when he was just 26. “Making the very complex…awesomely simple” is no mere catch phrase, it is truly John’s mission in life. His work as a business advisor and executive educator has taken him on assignments to Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Latin America, the Bahamas and Canada.

Matt Hintze

For those that work in the field of education…or care about the field of education…or are impacted by the field of education…so actually, for all humanity, we are living in very interesting times. Globalization, technology and economic circumstances have both highlighted the need for and stimulated the opportunity for innovation in this most critical area. Today Matt will discuss observations and ideas regarding advancement in what we teach and how we teach it gleaned from his time working in the field of higher education. Matt is the founder and Chief Learning Officer for TutoringZone, a teaching organization created to provide college students with access to outstanding instructors that provide highly specific supplemental instruction that is affordable, entertaining and effective. Over the past eleven years, TutoringZone has helped over 125,000 students at the University of Florida and Florida State University to increase their mastery of many of the most challenging and oft-dropped undergraduate courses. In the process, TutoringZone strives to not only increase the students GPA but also ignite a zeal for the subjects that the instructors love. Matt is a passionate instructor who uses humor and enthusiasm to make the exceptionally complex both understandable and fun and is a proud member of the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Gainesville, FL. Matt resides in Gainesville, FL with his wife of 11 years, Larina, and their three children Madison, 7, Cameron, 6 and Brennan, 4. Their love, support and coaching help Matt to maintain balance, to not sweat the small stuff, and to have gratitude for the many blessings in his life.

Organizing team


Safety Harbor, FL, United States


Gainesville, FL, United States
  • Jennifer Lingerfelt
  • Ben Erez