x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
May 6, 2012
10:00am - 4:00pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Fairfax, VA
United States

TEXxGeorgeMasonU showcases some of the most compelling and thought-provoking movers and shakers within the GMU community and beyond. This conference promises to be an intrepid consumption of new ideas in the arts and humanities, as well as science and research. Topics range from astronomy to theater, anthropology to mathematics, translating texts to neuroscience. We invite you to explore our site and get to know our prolific speakers!

Innovation Hall, RM 103
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA, 22030
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Richard Davis

Rick Davis is Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William campus of George Mason University as well as Artistic Director of Theater of the First Amendment, Professor of Theater, and Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Under his leadership since 1991, TFA, the resident professional company of Theater at Mason, has been nominated for more than thirty Helen Hayes Awards and has won the award twelve times, including outstanding resident production and outstanding new play. From 2000-2007, Rick served as Artistic Director of Mason's Center for the Arts, and from 2007-2011 was Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. Prior to coming to Mason, Rick worked for six seasons at Baltimore's Center Stage, as Resident Dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director. His directing work includes classics, new plays, and operas for TFA, Center Stage, SummerArts in Flagstaff, the Kennedy Center, Delaware Theatre Company, Players Theatre Columbus, Lake George Opera, Opera Idaho, Capital City Opera (at the Kennedy Center), the IN Series (D.C.), Unseam'd Shakespeare Company and the American Ibsen Theater in Pittsburgh, and other companies, as well as dozens of productions in college and university theaters. He is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, American Society for Theatre Research, and the Association for Hispanic Classical Theatre. Rick's volume of translations and commentaries, Calderón de la Barca: Four Great Plays of the Golden Age, has recently been published by Smith and Kraus. He is also the co-author of three books, Ibsen: Four Major Plays (1994) and Ibsen in an Hour (2010) with Brian Johnston, and Writing About Theatre (1999) with Christopher Thaiss. He is the librettist for Love's Comedy, an opera with composer Kim D. Sherman, which was given a concert staging by the Mason Festival of the Arts in June, 2008. He and Ms. Sherman also wrote "The Songbird and the Eagle," an oratorio, premiered in December, 2006 by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. His co-translations of Ibsen (A Doll House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, Hedda Gabler, John Gabriel Borkman) have been performed at leading regional theaters such as The Shakespeare Theatre (Washington, DC), Berkeley Rep, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage, Alliance Theatre, and at many colleges and universities. He has contributed a number of articles and reviews to publications such as American Theatre, Theater, The Journal of Social History, and Theater Three, and is the author of three entries in the Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama and a major article in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. At Mason he teaches directing, dramatic literature, and theater history, as well as graduate courses in the Arts Management program, and directs both theater and opera. He serves as host and Associate Producer for Studio A, a televised series of conversations with notable filmmakers for GMU TV and the Film and Video Studies program. In 1997 he was honored with Mason's Teaching Excellence Award and was named the Alumni Association "Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year" in 2006. He was educated at Lawrence University (BA) and the Yale School of Drama (MFA, DFA).

Bassam Haddad

Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program and teaches in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University, and is Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011). Bassam recently published "The Political Economy of Syria: Realities and Challenges," in Middle East Policy and is currently editing a volume on Teaching the Middle East After the Arab Uprisings, a book manuscript on pedagogical and theoretical approaches. Bassam serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal a peer-reviewed research publication and is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of a critically acclaimed film series on Arabs and Terrorism, based on extensive field research/interviews. More recently, he directed a film on Arab/Muslim immigrants in Europe, titled The "Other" Threat. Bassam also serves on the Editorial Committee of Middle East Report and is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Stanford's Program for Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World. Bassam is the Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute, an umbrella for four organizations dealing with knowledge production on the Middle East.

Kristin Johnsen-Neshati

Kristin Johnsen-Neshati (B.A., Swarthmore College; M.F.A & D.F.A Yale School of Drama) is Associate Professor of Theater at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and Dramaturg/Artistic Associate for Theater of the First Amendment. She is also a director, critic, and freelance theater writer, and has translated four of Chekhov's major plays. Her translations have been produced at universities throughout the U.S. Her version of Three Sisters was chosen by Sarah Ruhl as one of her source texts for her new adaptation of Chekhov's original, which premiered at Cincinnati Playhouse in 2009. Before coming to Virginia, Ms. Johnsen-Neshati worked at the Yale Rep, Goodman Theatre and People's Light and Theatre Company. Her current research examines the interplay between traditional and modern pressures on contemporary theater practice in select regions of the Islamic world-Egypt and Sudan, specifically. In 2008, she wrote reviews for "The Experimental," the daily trilingual theater publication of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater. Since then, she has developed a growing interest in Egypt's independent theaters. Ms. Johnsen-Neshati is an active member of the Arabic Theater Working Group associated with IFTR (The International Federation of Theatre Research). She is also the recipient of the Arts Council of Fairfax County's Strauss Fellowship for creative artists, KC/ACTF Criticism Faculty Fellowship to the Critics Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and George Mason's Fenwick Fellowship. She holds a B.A. in Russian and Theater from Swarthmore College, and M.F.A. and D.F.A. degrees in Dramaturgy & Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama. Follow her word press blog below

James Olds

James L. Olds received his bachelors of arts degree in Chemistry from Amherst College in 1978. After graduating, Olds interned on Capitol Hill for the United States House of Representatives researching chemical aspects of mid-future electrical energy alternatives for the New England Congressional delegation whose members at the time included such leaders as Speaker "Tip" O'Neill, Paul Tsongas, Edward Markey and Silvio Conte. Olds entered the Neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan in 1983, and received his Ph.D. (1987) in neurosciences from that institution. His thesis advisor was Bernard W. Agranoff, the Director of the Neuroscience Laboratory and the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical Center. During his government service, Dr. Olds also served as U.S. project officer on two successive government R&D contracts to develop novel biologically-based computer algorithms which emulate human associative learning and image comprehension. Dr. Olds also has had a close affiliation with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole Massachusetts since 1978. In 1991 Dr. Olds was elected a member of the MBL Corporation. In 1994, Dr. Olds led a team of MBL summer investigators which, for the first time, imaged the activation of protein kinase C in living sea urchin eggs following fertilization using laser-scanning confocal microscopy. In 1995 Dr. Olds moved to the private sector to become the Executive Director of the American Association of Anatomists, a professional scientific society representing some 2,500 biomedical scientists. During his tenure, membership and participation in the Society's annual meeting grew significantly. He was also responsible for creating the Association's web site and using it to reinvigorate the Society's public affairs presence. In summer of 1998, Olds departed the Association to accept the position of Director and CEO at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, an independent research institution located on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. Following the Institute's merger with George Mason University in 2002, Olds remained as Director and Chief Academic Unit Officer. Concurrently he is the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Neuroscience at George Mason University and Chair of the Department of Molecular Neuroscience. He has an additional academic faculty appointment at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda Maryland. In August 2004, he was named editor-in-chief of the journal Biological Bulletin.

Padmanabhan Seshaiyer

Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer is a tenured faculty member of Mathematical Sciences and also the director of COMPLETE (Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology) at GMU. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Master of Science (Hons) in Mathematics, Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Post-doctoral research associateship in Biomedical Engineering. Over the years, Dr. Seshaiyer has actively initiated and directed several research, educational outreach and professional enrichment programs to foster the interest of students and teachers in multidisciplinary applications of mathematics at all levels. Integrated with his research plan is an education plan where the primary goal is to teach students at all levels to apply well-developed research concepts, to fundamental applications arising in STEM disciplines. As a part of this, he has helped develop K-12 teacher preparation and STEM based educational programs for students and teachers at all levels to solve real-world problems that focus on 21st Century skills including critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, technology and innovation. Along with his research accomplishments, Dr. Seshaiyer has also contributed extensively to teaching and has won several prestigious awards in the last few years including the Excellence Award in Teaching which is the highest award given in teaching at two separate institutions. He has been selected as a Nifty-Fifty speaker for two years in row by the USA Science and Engineering Festival. In 2010, Dr. Seshaiyer received commendation from the Governor of Virginia for his contributions to research and education in the State of Virginia . More details on his education and outreach efforts can be found at

Susan Trencher

Susan Trencher is an Associate Professor of anthropology. Her primary research interests are American culture, the anthropology of anthropology, sociology of knowledge, anthropological theory and practice, and the history of anthropology. Publications include "Righteous Anthropology" (Social Dynamics 1998); Mirrored Images: American Anthropology and American Culture, 1960-1980 (Bergin and Garvey 2000); "Literary Representations of Anthropology" (Anthropological Theory 2002) and "The Values of Science" (American Anthropologist 2002). Dr. Trencher won the George Mason University award for Teaching Excellence in 1995. Courses she teaches include: Introduction to Anthropology; Cultures in Comparative Perspective; Contemporary Controversies in Anthropology; and Anthropological Linguistics.

Paula Ruth Gilbert

Paula Ruth Gilbert (Ph.D. French, Columbia University) is Professor of French, Canadian, and Women and Gender Studies in Modern and Classical Languages/Women and Gender Studies and a faculty affiliate in Cultural Studies and New Century College. She served as Associate Dean (1985-1987) and then Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1987-1991. Professor Gilbert teaches courses on North American francophone women writers, Quebec Studies, Gabrielle Roy, women and violence, nineteenth-century French novel and poetry, European Symbolism and the arts, nineteenth-century Paris, nineteenth-century France through film and opera, violence and gender, women who kill, stories of gender and human rights, and introduction to Women and Gender Studies. She was the recipient of a GMU Teaching Excellence award in 1999. She specializes in Quebec Studies and French and Francophone women writers, nineteenth-century French Studies and the study of Paris, gender and violence, and gender and human rights narrative. She has written or edited several books, including: The Aesthetics of Stéphane Mallarmé in Relation to His Public; The Literary Vision of Gabrielle Roy: An Analysis of Her Works; Traditionalism, Nationalism, and Feminism: Women Writers of Québec; Women Writing in Quebec: Essays in Honor of Jeanne Kissner;, Doing Gender: Franco-Canadian Women Writers of the 1990s; Violence and Gender: An Interdisciplinary Reader; Violence and the Female Imagination: Quebec's Women Writers Re-frame Gender in North American Cultures(McGill-Queen's UP, 2006); Transatlantic Passages: Literary and Cultural Relations between Quebec and Francophone Europe(McGill-Queen's UP, 2010); Confronting Global Gender Justice: Women's Lives, Human Rights (Routledge, 2010), along with numerous articles. She is currently working on a book-length study, Narrating Female Lives: Human Rights Violations against Women and Girls, for which she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Gender Studies Centre/Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford University during the fall 2011 semester. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships, including NEH. Paula Gilbert has lived in France and has traveled widely throughout the world--western Europe, Central and South America, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Himalayan kingdoms, and Australia/Papua New Guinea. She was the Academic Faculty Director of the GMU Honors Program in Oxford in 2002, the summer Paris programs in 2005 and 2009, and the Paris semester programs in 2006 and 2007. Professor Gilbert was the recipient of the 2010 David J. King Award for her overall impact on educational excellence at George Mason. She was nominated by the University and was a finalist for both the 2011 and 2012 Virginia State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award.

Michael Summers

Ph.D. 1985, California Institute of Technology. Prof. Michael E. Summers is a planetary scientist who specializes in the study of structure and evolution of planetary atmospheres. His planetary research has dealt with the chemistry and thermal structure of the atmospheres of Io (one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter), Titan (largest of Saturn's moons), Uranus, Neptune, Triton (largest moon of Neptune), Pluto, and Mars. Dr. Summers' research on the Earth's atmosphere has focused on understanding middle atmospheric ozone chemistry, coupled chemical-dynamical-radiative modeling of active trace gases, heterogeneous chemistry on meteor dust, the influence of solar variability on the state of the stratosphere and mesosphere, and polar mesospheric clouds and their connection to climate.

Organizing team


Centreville, VA, United States


Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • Jessica Teaford
    Production Manager
  • Janet McGraw
    Event Coordinator
  • Kathleen Wills
    Directory of Filming