x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Rethinking Normal

This event occurred on
October 19, 2012
1:30pm - 5:30pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
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.

Rethinking Normal Set to be held at Miller Theater of Columbia's Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan, TEDxColumbiaEngineering hopes to establish channels of communication between all members of the Columbia University, and New York City, community. The two sessions aim to introduce ideas and experiences that highlight 'the road less traveled', offering different perspectives and fresh takes on familiar concepts.

Created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading," the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

Miller Theatre
2960 Broadway
New York, NY, 10027
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Stuart Firestein

Dr. Stuart Firestein is the Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences where his colleagues and he study the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet. Aside from its molecular capabilities, the olfactory system serves as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of signaling and perception in the brain. His laboratory seeks to answer that fundamental human question: How do I smell? Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience Firestein serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science. Recently he was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. His book on the workings of science for a general audience called Ignorance, How it drives Science was released by Oxford University Press this Spring.

Farzana Kashfi

Farzana Kasfi is currently a student at the School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. Before coming to New York, she was working at BRAC Bangladesh as a Senior Manager in the Education Program. Her area of expertise is adolescents and youth. Her work ranges from providing comprehensive support structure for rural adolescent girls to skills development through informal markets for urban youth in Bangladesh. Farzana also provides intellectual support in BRAC’s work focused on adolescent girls in Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Afghanistan. Farzana graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Mathematical Applications in Economics and Finance. Before joining BRAC, Farzana held internship positions with Acumen Fund (New York), World Bank (Bangladesh), Grameen Bank (Bangladesh) and International Labour Organization (Switzerland).

Marshall Cox

Marshall Cox is a founder and acting CEO of two Columbia University startups: Chromation, a company developing a novel miniature spectrometer, and Radiator Labs, a company commercializing a radiator retrofit for building heating efficiency. Marshall was also the first non-founding employee at QD Vision, a high-tech startup spun out of MIT. He is an expert in organic electronics and thin-films systems integration. Marshall holds a masters and bachelors degree in Materials Science and Engineering, and is pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. He is a startup Leadership Program Fellow and an InSITE fellow in New York City.

Vince Scafaria

Vince Scafaria is founder and CEO of DotAlign (, a tech startup with applications that help professionals get more value from their networks. Vince started out on Wall Street at DLJ Merchant Banking. He then built and sold a business called DealMaven, which provided Microsoft Office plug-ins to investment banks. DotAlign started out serving that same demographic but then pivoted based on feedback from beta users and advisors and influence by the writings of Steven Johnson. Rather than creating yet another niche social network, he and his team decided what the world needs most are ways to tap the hidden potential of the networks we already have. In particular, Vince is passionate about highlighting relevant relationships based on business needs, and identifying ways that related professionals can help each other succeed.

Chelsey Roebuck

Chelsey graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves as the President of Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering (ELiTE) and works for Abyssinian Development Corporation to support the turnaround efforts in persistently low performing schools in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Chelsey co-founded ELiTE with a group of Columbia Engineering undergraduates after an inspiring 2009 summer trip to Ghana where they successfully implemented a 4-week summer camp in Nsawam, Ghana. ELiTE has since grown to develop and operate science and technology education programs in partnership with local universities and educational institutions in Ghana, Jamaica, Tanzania, and Mexico.

Artificial IntelliDance

Apoorv Agarwal is a fourth year doctoral student in the Computer Science department at Columbia University. His areas of interest and specialization are Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. He has interned at IBM Research, working with the DeepQA team that built Watson, a machine capable of answering Jeopardy! questions. Apoorv believes that the arts may provide a fertile ground for thinking about scientific ideas. Every form of art provides a different meaning representation for concepts. "The next step," during ideation, may be obvious in one form (of meaning representation) and not the other. As a first step to explore this hypothesis, he recently collaborated with choreographer Caitlin Trainor to create Artificial IntelliDance, a dance presentation that explains how machines learn to "think" like humans. Caitlin Trainor is the artistic director of Trainor Dance and a lecturer at Barnard College/Columbia University. Originally from Rhode Island, Trainor has taught, choreographed, and performed on both sides of the Atlantic. She enjoys using dance as a playground for ideas, particularly in collaboration with other artists and thinkers. Her latest partnership with computer scientist Apoorv Agarwal, Artificial IntelliDance, uses dance to explain a relatively new machine learning paradigm. Trainor's performance career includes appearances at Lincoln Center, onstage with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and on the walls of the building itself with site-specific choreographer Stephan Koplowitz. She has danced with and acted as rehearsal director for Sean Curran Company, and performed in numerous productions ranging from experimental downtown work to a recent appearance in a music video for Diehard. She has created new work on dancers from Nacre Dance Company, Murray State University, Providence College, and Northumbria University (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England). An alumna of Skidmore College (B.S.) and Mills College (M.F.A.), Trainor is the grateful recipient of an education grant from New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA) and appreciates ongoing production support from Barnard College/Columbia University. Visit her on the web at

Emmanuel Dumont

Emmanuel is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Prior to starting his PhD, Emmanuel worked for an investment bank in New York, Paris, and Sao Paulo and founded a non-profit in Burkina Faso. Emmanuel's interest in modern art flourished when the opportunity to design a sculpture for the famous Paris-based architecture firm Jakob+MacFarlane arose. He designed and built several sculptures inspired by the complexity found in natural or economics phenomena.

Kamla Modi

Kamla Modi grew up in Queens, N.Y. in diverse neighborhoods to parents from very different backgrounds. Today, she is a research analyst with the Girl Scout Research Institute at Girls Scouts of the USA. She is part of a team that conducts original research studies on issues important to girls today. They study topics such as girls' health and well-being, morals and values, leadership and self-esteem, education, and extracurricular activities. Kamla has traveled the country, even to the White House, to talk about how to get more girls and women into STEM fields, now and in the future. She recently led a project called Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (2012), which focuses on how to get more girls interested and engaged in these great subjects, and eventually pursue careers in the STEM fields.

Jonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan Rosenberg is the Chief Technology Strategist at Skype. He is most well known as the co-author of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and has authored many of the standards that are in wide use today within the telecommunications industry. Prior to joining Skype, Rosenberg was a Cisco Fellow at Cisco Systems, where he directed technology strategy for its enterprise voice produce portfolio. Before that, he was CTO of dynamicsoft, one of the industry's first VoIP technology companies. In that role, he helped build products and networks for several of the earliest VoIP deployments. Rosenberg has received many industry accolades for his role as a pioneer and innovator in telephony.

Alexis Tryon

Alexis is the founder and CEO of Artsicle, a site to discover your taste in art and rent original artwork to enjoy at home. Artsicle has been named one of the "Silicon Alley 100" by Business Insider and called the "Netflix of the Art World" by CBS. Alexis graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, studying Communications & Art History, before working in the restaurant group at American Express. Soon her life-long passion for art and a stubborn determination that she could found something great drew her to entrepreneurship, founding Artsicle in 2010. Her favorite artists are currently Jock Sturges and Roxy Paine.

Michael Massimino

Dr. Michael Massimino was 6 years old when he watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, and it changed his life. Years later as a student at Columbia University, he saw the movie "The Right Stuff" and it rekindled his passion for spaceflight. After graduating from Columbia and working for two years at IBM, he enrolled at MIT to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut. It took four application cycles but he was luckily selected for the NASA Astronaut Program in 1996. He was fortunate to have flown on two Space Shuttle missions to the Hubble Space Telescope which included some awesome space walks. His passion is still, and always will be, spaceflight, but he is now looking forward to preparing the next generation of space travelers rather than going himself.

Organizing team


New York, NY, United States


New York, NY, United States
  • Brendan Roach
    Director of Marketing
  • Akshay Shah
    Director of Speaker Selection
  • Shyno Mathew
    Speaker Selection Committee
  • Rodrigo Carrasco
    Speaker Selection Committee
  • Renee McAlpin
    Speaker Selection Committee
  • Xiang Mao
    Marketing Committee
  • Annie Hu
    Marketing Committee
  • Rebecca Sealfon
    Marketing Committee
  • Kay Lodge
    Marketing Committee
  • Parth Solanki
    Marketing Committee
  • Jiyoung Kim
    Marketing Committee
  • Julia Radunsky
    Logistics Committee
  • Hannah Chao
    Logistics Committee
  • Chae Jubb
    Logistics Committee
  • Ben Stratton
    Logistics Committee