In a city where traffic causes daily headaches, Baton Rouge drivers are often left looking for shortcuts. For traffic engineer and LSU’S EDWARD A. & KAREN WAX SCHMITT DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR Brian Wolshon, the solutions are only a few miles down the road. Brian has been at the forefront of creating solutions for traffic at the city level and beyond, serving as the director of the GULF COAST CENTER FOR EVACUATION AND TRANSPORTATION RESILIENCY. Regarded as a leader in his field, Brian has provided his expertise to various media outlets, including MSNBC, CNN, The Discovery Channel, USA Today, and The New York Times.
Things are not COLE WILEY’s art. To this sculptor, techie, and hacker, art is much more than final products; it’s about the process, the interaction, and finding connections where it seems there are none. Cole’s explorations of the interstices of the tech and art worlds date back to his senior year at LSU. After earning his BFA, he took his passions to the community. Since then, Cole has focused on multimedia art installations, software development, hacking and various grassroots organizations. Most recently, Cole founded MAKERS OF NO, a weekly maker meetup meant to inspire creativity.
Nationally renowned CHEF JOHN BESH makes a difference one meal at a time. It all started when he was nine years old. At that time, John started making meals for his injured father and realized that cooking has the power to make people happy. That was when he discovered two great passions: cooking and serving others. John is a former Marine, chef and Louisiana native dedicated to the culinary riches of Southern Louisiana. He strongly believes in promoting the sustainability of Louisiana’s environment and people. In addition to cooking his way to national fame, John continues to give back to his home state through his work with emergency response teams relief efforts in south Louisiana. THE JOHN BESH FOUNDATION, established in 2011, works to protect and preserve the culinary heritage and foodways of New Orleans.
Music is a part of our everyday lives. For JOHN GRAY, music is an instrument FOR life. A Baton Rouge native, John attended Southern University, where he began to harness his experiences with music to engage all aspects of his daily world. He uses his vision, creativity and charisma to show others how music plays important roles in multiple aspects of personal and community lives. This trumpeter plays more than 20 hours a week with his collaborators, directs the band at the DUNHAM SCHOOL, and dedicates his non-work hours to exploring and inspiring music activities throughout the Baton Rouge community. To John, music is the universal language of mankind. Where words fail, music speaks.
The world’s coastal areas are under threat by rising seas, and people are looking for ways to prevent land loss and stabilize shorelines. Fortunately, Dr. Karen McKee’s research suggests how we might work with nature to promote more resilient coastlines. Karen, who is a wetland ecologist and scientist emeritus with the U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, has studied effects of sea-level rise, hurricanes, and nutrient pollution in swamps and marshes around the world. Karen also started THE SCIENTIST VIDEOGRAPHER endeavor, which helps science professionals more effectively share their knowledge with nonscientists, and co-founded THE WETLAND FOUNDATION, which funds student travel to learn about and study wetlands. Through her expertise in wetland ecology and her commitment to student training and science communication, Karen is determined to help others figure out how best to use their natural resources to adapt to future change.
As a Baton Rouge native and lifelong lover of libraries, Kurt Ristroph spent his summers checking out as many books as he could carry from his local library. Today, Kurt is taking advantage of the EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH LIBRARY SYSTEM – and they love it. A LSU junior studying engineering and classics, Kurt was the sole recipient of the 2014 ROGER HADFIELD OGDEN LEADERSHIP FELLOWSHIP, which offers up to five students per year support toward projects that will benefit the state of Louisiana. Kurt’s mission is to connect Louisiana youth to all the resources East Baton Rouge Parish libraries provide.
Maxine Crump made history when she became the first African American woman to live in a residence hall on LSU’s campus. She’s been inspiring others to make history ever since, through her work in television, radio, humanitarian efforts and community development. Maxine is a founding member of the BATON ROUGE BLUES FOUNDATION and owner of Success Communications, LLC. She also plays an important role in working to eliminate race discrimination in Baton Rouge. Maxine is currently the executive director of DIALOGUE ON RACE LOUISIANA, which aims to educate the community on ways to make their future free from what Maxine describes as a vivid racial divide that still exists in Louisiana.
What do TEDxLSU, Baton Rouge food and drink establishments, and lovers of the trivial and not-so-trivial have in common? They all reap the benefits of Michael Hatfield’s experience promoting community. Patrons of Baton Rouge restaurants and bars have been treated to weekly trivia courtesy of Michael since 2008. As the owner and quizmaster of MONKEYBR’S LET’S GET QUIZZICAL trivia nights, Michael uses his passion for puzzlers to promote interaction and engagement among patrons, businesses and the Baton Rouge community.
DR. OWEN CARMICHAEL has a Ph.D. in robotics and a passion for brain science. Owen is an associate professor and the Director of Biomedical Imaging at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He uses technology not only to better understand how the wiring of your brain affects your ability to think, but also how your actions and your environment can affect the wiring of the brain. In other words: are we able to set ourselves up to be mentally healthy throughout our lives, or are we destined for our brains to turn our lives one way or another? Owen has been studying these questions for years.
One fish, two fish, red fish, bioluminescent, and blind fish? PROSANTA CHAKRABARTY, an Associate Professor and Curator of Fishes at LSU, has travelled to over 20 countries in his quest to better understand and chronicle the plethora of fish species that call Earth home. Prosanta’s research in his lab focuses on discovering the relationships between fishes and their habitats to better understand how they evolved. His passion outside the lab focuses on showing students of all ages and backgrounds that exploring the natural world can provide insight and meaning across the blue planet. You can follow him on Twitter @LSU_FISH.
Rashaud Red fits many profiles. He’s the son of a single working mother, a member of the Beta Club at BATON ROUGE MENTORSHIP ACADEMY, a fan of “American Horror Story” and “Big Bang Theory,” a reader of American literary classics like To Kill A Mockingbird, and a lover of math and history (yes, both!). This 17-year-old black man is also an agent for change. Just as he fits various profiles, he thinks you do, too, and suggests that progress in our cities begins with knowing each other as more than just one type of person.
DR. TRACEY RIZZUTO knows how to use her resources wisely. After receiving her Ph.D. from Penn State University, she continued her passion for connecting people and organizations to human resource development tools that aren’t readily available to them. Tracey helps provide members of the Baton Rouge community with the technological resources it needs to analyze and combat problems like violence, economic development, and natural disasters. She uses social network analysis to aid the successful BATON ROUGE AREA VIOLENCE ELIMINATION (BRAVE) program, to build organizational collaborations through the CHOICE NEIGHBORHOOD INITIATIVE and has taken an active role in studying workplace disasters through her work with the Katrina Aid and Relief Effort. Through these organizations, Tracey helps people find a way to connect their professional, research-oriented experience with community support services.