x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Pursuing Passion

This event occurred on
February 23, 2013
10:00am - 3:00pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
Gainesville, FL
United States

This year's TEDxUF conference is centered around the theme of Pursuing Passion. As novelist E.M. Forester said, "One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” We hope that by putting one person with passion on our stage, we will spark passion in forty - or more - interested people in the audience. The event is intended to be a conversation, not a one-way dialogue. Whether they are a UF dropout or gene therapy researcher, the thread that unites our speakers is tenacious passion. In addition to listening to the speakers on stage, audience members will be able to explore innovative businesses and research in the Lab, engage with our art exhibit, and collaborate over a working lunch.

Phillips Center for Performing Arts
315 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL, 32611
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Dr. Stephan Athan

Why do most engineering students wait till college to begin thinking about an engineering career? How are they even able to compete in a highly competitive global industry given the numerous constraints, limited timeframes, and inadequate education? Because they have no other choice? Dr. Athan’s solution is an engineering program based on the concept of a wormhole and compressing the timeline. A top-down teaching methodology that empowers young minds with career knowledge starting at a young age.

Kenneth Staab

Passion without action is a wasted emotion. Ex-pinstripe soldier Ken Staab uses an amazing story, "From Kitchen Table to Cure", to demonstrate that all of us are born with the ability to use our passions to make a measurable difference in the human experience. Exponential inspiration and a lasered focus can create amazing results, including changing the way medical research is funded in an all-or-nothing quest to end a disease.

Rebecca Brown

Rebecca Brown challenges our American discomfort with death by sharing experiences from her work with hospitalized adolescents and young adults who are suffering or dying. She suggests that our “pornographic” relationship with death creates fear, anxiety, and loneliness for those who are dying, and for the living, the illusion that death is avertible, unnatural, and obscene. Rebecca is the founder and director of Streetlight - a support program that partners premedical and healthcare students with young people who are living with a chronic illness or fear of an early death. Preliminary research reports the experience to be transformational for both patient and the healthcare student. No stranger to Gainesville, Rebecca has worked with adolescents in the community for almost 30 years, first through a church-based program and now through the Department of Pediatrics at UF&Shands Childrens Hospital.

Phoebe Miles

Before she began her current obsession with building the Cade MUSEum for Creativity and Invention, Phoebe Miles accompanied her husband in diplomatic posts throughout the world. She heroically raised 3 children on 3 different continents (and one Caribbean Island) and became fascinated by the unique responses each child had to the four different educational systems. This got her to thinking... If we want to increase the number of problem solving Geeks in the world, then we must return to the model of the Greeks. Classical Greek education valued building creative connections in all subjects, using the arts as a primary means of tying together scientific subjects. The Muses for Creativity, found in all the arts, were essential for stimulating creative scientific breakthroughs in mathematics and astronomy. Modern education, in contrast, places the arts in the category of harmless diversion, a forgotten step-child. This despite studies that show Nobel Prize Winners are almost 60 times more likely to be artists than the general public, and that they attribute their breakthroughs to their training in the arts. Modern brain research is beginning to discover what the Greeks and Nobel Prize winners have known all along. Divergent thought (developed with training in music and the arts) combined with convergent thought (zeroing in on the right answer) leads to an explosion of creative breakthroughs. Its time to talk about STEAM instead of STEM and usher in a new Renaissance of creativity.

August Shipmate

For August Shitama, his first love was, and is, reading. Reading provides a way for him to reach out into the world and amass the myriad bits of information that his hearing cohorts simply "heard somewhere". Shitama demonstrates the ability to find a voice from books, and what it means to utilize that voice for success in such a loud world. A native of Gainesville, FL, Shitama is a student at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. He plans to major in Journalism, with an aim to become a published writer. Upon matriculation, Shitama adopted Steve Jobs' immortal quote, “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” as his personal motto. He believes in remaining an eager student of life, and that we should never stop learning.

Dr. Barry Byrne

Summary: Over the past 20 years a revolution in medicine has been underway. Since the discovery of DNA, scientists have been decoding the origins of human disease by understanding the genetic basis of a growing number of conditions. Completion of the human genome project and advances in methods for determining the sequence of DNA has set the stage for rapid diagnosis of even the most rare disease, often before symptoms start. These advances are the basis for a new type of molecular medicine or genetic therapy. Treatment of inherited diseases using gene therapy is a type of personalized medicine, which relies on the most specific therapy available. Successful studies in inherited blindness, neurodegenerative disease and muscular dystrophy have demonstrated the potential for this curative strategy. Gene therapy is a powerful tool for the long-term treatment of inherited diseases. Biosketch: Barry Byrne, M.D., Ph.D. is a pediatric clinician scientist and rare disease expert who studies inherited muscle diseases. As a pediatric cardiologist, he has a unique perspective on diseases that affect both heart and skeletal muscle function. Dr. Byrne has devoted the past 15 years to establishing strategies for treatment of rare diseases using gene therapy.

Cary Putnal

A myriad of microorganisms exist practically everywhere in our world. We use some of them to ferment our beverages, pickle our foods, and even to decompose our food wastes. These organisms can be quite useful, but Cary believes they are one of our most underutilized resources in the global effort to become sustainable. Imagine being able to cultivate microorganisms that can help decompose food waste and turn it into light. In this talk Cary will discuss a few ways we may be able to turn waste into light. Cary Putnal has had an ongoing interest in sustainability that led him to talk about this idea. As an undergrad student focussing on Sustainability at the University of Florida, he has been challenged to consider alternatives to popular technologies and habits of energy use. His studies also include sustainable crop production and by extension composting. In addition to this he works as a seasonal park ranger for the US National Park Service and has developed a background in conservation. He also has many years of experience brewing beer and fermenting wine.

Anna Olcese

As a writer for over 20 years, Anna has chronicled several people’s accomplishments, trials and breakthroughs. Now, she shares her own. After reflecting on her late grandmother’s words and reading a journal she wrote when her daughter was an infant, Anna concluded that knowing how to have it all is innate, and it is others’ influences that challenge our views, skew our perceptions, and often encourage us to make choices that we know are wrong. It took Anna nearly 30 years to learn – and accept – who she is and realize that her choices have led her to precisely where she believes she should be.

Chad Paris

We are all on an adventure towards authenticity, many of us don’t know it and few of us have arrived. Chad Paris knows this trek all too well. He will take you on his wayward journey towards a life of authenticity, sprinkled with brutal humor and raw honesty, and share with you why he believes authenticity to be the keystone to true happiness. Chad is an entrepreneur, CEO and CRO (Chief Relationship Officer) of a socially conscious design firm. His journey toward authenticity took him from the dance floors of middle school, through his most deserted years, to an office culture oasis overflowing with authenticity.

Organizing team


Safety Harbor, FL, United States


Gainesville, FL, United States
  • Ashira Morris
  • Gabriel Hament
  • Lindsay Sugarman
  • Britt Clifford
  • Sean Treiser
    Public Relations
  • Brandon Snyder
  • Charlie Gordon
    Lab Director