x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
March 21, 2015
10:00am - 10:00am EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Charlottesville, Virginia
United States

Our theme this year was "Leaving the Cave," based on Plato's Allegory of the Cave, in which men living in darkness finally see the world and its illuminated truths after a lifetime of obscurity. Our speakers sought to share their own experiences leaving their personal "caves," stepping out of their comfort zones, taking risks, and making bold strides toward the "light" that would facilitate new knowledge, discovery, and points of view. Whether they were designing sustainable, efficient national transportation solutions, practicing yoga to run faster marathons, or proudly wearing a Hijab as a symbol of feminism, our speakers channeled their stories and passions in hopes of inspiring others to challenge their everyday beliefs and routines.

Nau Hall
Charlottesville, Virginia, 22903
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Andrew Burrill

Andrew Burrill is a professional performer and current third-year studying drama at the University of Virginia. His body of work includes performances at the Michael Jackson tribute at the MTV Video Music Awards, appearances on television shows such as Modern Family and Veep, and music videos for Nickelback and Wale, among others. Most recently Andrew appeared in the Los Angeles staged musical production of Rugrats: The Musical as the lead role of Tommy Pickles. Andrew is a staunch advocate for arts education, using his story of personal tragedy and triumph to convey the power of the arts in individual development.

Ann Mazur

Ann Mazur is currently the Shannon Postdoctoral Fellow in the English Department at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia in 2014, and taught 579 yoga classes while earning her degree. Ann is also an elite runner, who runs unconventionally low mileage and attributes much of her success to her yoga practice. In graduate school, she founded her company Runners Love Yoga with the mission of bringing more yoga to the running community, so that they too can "do yoga, run faster."

Attiya Latif

Attiya Latif is a rising second-year student at the University of Virginia. She plans to double major in Government and Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently involved in several organizations at the University, including the Honor Committee, the Washington Literary Society and Debating Union, the Muslim Students Association, the Cavalier Daily newspaper, and the Virginia Poetry Guild. A self-identified feminist and proud hijabi, she is also a vocal activist for the Muslim community and women who choose to wear the hijab.

George Christ

Dr. George Christ is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia. He is also the Director of Basic and Translational Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UVA Medical School. He is also a co-inventor of more than 26 patents related to gene therapy for the treatment of human smooth muscle disorders and tissue engineering technologies.

John Stegner

John Stegner is a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia studying English Education. He is currently Vice President of One in Four, the all-male sexual assault prevention peer advocacy group on grounds. He is interested in educating men on how to handle the problem of sexual assault and instigate meaningful change in societal norms.

Joshua Anton

Joshua Anton is a 2014 graduate of the UVA McIntire School of Commerce. He recently developed a phone app called "Drunk Mode," which prevents users from mistakenly contacting people while intoxicated. After acquiring over 250,000 users, his app has been featured on Huffington Post, USA Today, Business Insider, BBC Radio 5, Cosmopolitan and MTV. He is also the founder of the social media consulting firm yOptimize.

Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, where she specializes in African American literature and culture. Her recent work concerns televisual representations; she also teaches a course on George R. R. Martin's book series (and HBO’s television series) Game of Thrones. This course has received press attention in Rolling Stone Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

Mohammad Mahmoody

Mohammad Mahmoody is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Virginia. He received his PhD from Princeton in 2010 and completed postdoctoral research at Cornell prior to moving to Charlottesville. Professor Mahmoody’s research focuses on the foundations of cryptography and computational complexity.

Oliver Kuttner

Oliver Kuttner is a German-born inventor and businessman. He was the head of the Edison2 car team that won the $5 million dollar Automotive X Prize in 2010. His team’s work was the subject of Jason Fagone’s 2013 book, "Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, And The Race To Revive America." He is currently the operator of an automobile accident repair and service facility, as well as a franchised BMW Porsche Audi store. He also has redeveloped old factory sites and warehouses for urban mixed use applications.

Thomas Talhelm

Thomas Talhelm is a PhD candidate in Social Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he studies how culture affects the way we behave. Talhelm recently returned from a Fulbright research project and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in China. He is also the founder of Smart Air, a social enterprise to help China combat pollution and breathe cleaner air.

Tim Heaphy

Tim Heaphy is an alumnus of the University of Virginia and served as the U.S. Attorney for Virginia's western district from 2009 to 2014. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Organized Crime and Narcotics section, taught courses in trial advocacy at the UVA law school, and worked in private practice. In 2003, Heaphy was named by the National Law Journal as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40.

Organizing team


  • Katherine King
  • Porter Nenon
    Sponsorship Chair
  • Katie Deal
    Marketing Chair
  • William Henagan
    Speakers Chair
  • Katie Morley
    Speakers Chair
  • D'Arcy Sampson
    Logistics Chair
  • Sarah Towler
    Logistics Chair
  • Allison Xu
  • Allie Ivener