x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Illuminate

This event occurred on
March 18, 2016
1:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Athens, Georgia
United States

Ideas have the power to educate, motivate, inspire, and illuminate. Great ideas light a fire within us, and often the biggest ideas start with the smallest of sparks: a spark of genius, a spark of imagination, or maybe even a spark of madness. The University of Georgia strives to seek out those sparks and illuminate the brilliance within us all. TEDxUGA 2016: Illuminate will bring UGA’s brightest minds into the spotlight to share their stories, experiences, and ideas worth spreading. Today’s ideas will illuminate tomorrow’s possibilities. All it takes is a single spark.

Tate Grand Hall
Tate Student Center
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia, 30602
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Athens Tango Project

Athens Tango Project is a local group committed to bringing Argentine tango music to the northern hemisphere. Laura Camacho, a veteran of the tango music scene of Buenos Aires, came to Athens, Georgia to study upright bass and quickly found there to be a lack of tango music in the Classic City. Camacho assembled a group of top notch local musicians and international music graduate students whose lineup includes Ricardo Hurtado, Tereska Grnia, John Phillips, and David Marcus. Athens Tango Project’s members are an assortment of world class players and the result is the Athens Tango Project, a delightfully different trip to another part of the world.


Wrenn is the freshest new wellspring of color, fashion, and sound to come out of Athens, Georgia. Her song-craft has the polish and drama of a writer twenty years her senior and she’s armed with a voice that can be sultry, lilting, playful, or bold. A recent graduate of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, her immaculate sense for aesthetic is apparent in everything she does from her self-produced artwork and videos to the bubblegum-chic outfits she wears on stage. An accomplished photographer, artist, model, and classically trained flutist, Wrenn has devoted the past two years to crafting a sound and look that took her from unknown to headlining act at the historic Georgia Theater in Athens. With the January 2016 release of Apathy and Good Books, Wrenn continues to turn industry heads with her prolific writing, her visual command, and an overwhelmingly joyous presence.

Caree Cotwright

Assistant professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia
Caree Cotwright is an assistant professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition and a double-dawg, having earned a PhD and Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition at the university. Previously a Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Cotwright focuses on early childhood obesity prevention, community nutrition, and health disparities. Dr. Cotwright has received the UGA 40 Under 40 Award, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences Pacesetter Award, and promoted Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Her passion is creating interventions which use theater, media, and other arts-based approaches to combat the problem of obesity. Today, she lives in Athens with her loving husband, Marty and her daughters, Camara and Camille.

Jeb Byers

Professor in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia
Dr. James E. (Jeb) Byers is a marine biologist and professor in the Odum School of Ecology, with a PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Dr. Byers is an internationally-recognized expert in invasion biology and has served as an expert scientific advisor to develop national invasive species policy. For the past 20 years, he has traveled worldwide to study the role that parasites can play in structuring ecological communities. Dr. Byers is a dynamic instructor and the recipient of several teaching and mentoring awards.

John Greenman

Professor emeritus and Carter Chair of Journalism in Grade College at the University of Georgia
John Greenman is a professor emeritus and Carter Chair of Journalism. Greenman joined Grady’s faculty in 2004 after presiding for ten years as president and publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia. While working for the Akron Beacon-Journal, Greenman helped direct and edit coverage of the attempted takeover of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company that won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. While at Grady, Greenman taught the public affairs journalism emphasis and served as director of Travel Journalism in Prague study abroad program. Having recently retired from teaching, Greenman continues to facilitate the McGill Program, a lecture and symposium designed to advance journalistic courage.

Katlyn Firkus

Katlyn Firkus is a fourth-year student studying Marketing and Psychology. She is a member and the current President of the Demosthenian Literary Society, UGA’s oldest student organization. She enjoys debate, performing arts, and working on Many Hats: The Podcast with her friend Bailey Johnson.

Marc Gorlin

Alumnus Marc Gorlin is an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and current founder of Roadie, the first “on-the-way” delivery network. The Roadie app enables efficient, low cost delivery for senders by tapping into the unused capacity in passenger vehicles already on the road. Previously, Gorlin co-founded several highly successful start-up ventures including Kabbage Inc., Pretty Good Privacy, and VerticalOne. Gorlin is an active speaker on raising venture funding and has spoken at conferences including the Technology Association of Georgia, Internet Summit, and Southeastern Venture Conference. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, and remains an avid bulldog fan today.

Mehrsa Baradaran

Associate professor at Georgia Law
Mehrsa Baradaran has been is an associate professor at Georgia Law since 2012. Previously, she taught at Brigham Young University, where she was named 1L Professor of the Year by the Student Bar Association. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, she went on to study law at NYU, where she was an Academic Research Fellow at served as a member of the New York University Law Review. Baradaran’s book How the Other Half Banks received significant media coverage and has been featured in The New York Times among other national and international news outlets.

Melaney Smith

Founder, Books for Keeps
After graduating from the Terry College of Business, Melaney Smith began a corporate career at Symantec as an information security analyst. Smith took a brief break from her career to found Books for Keeps, a grassroots effort to provide books to those children that might otherwise have none. Books for Keeps helps to combat the lack of resources available to children in low-income areas by distributing 45,000 books annually. Smith is currently working to double the program’s reach statewide. She lives in Athens with her husband, Bayne.

Mike Young

Alumnus Mike Young is a spoken word poet based in Athens, Georgia. Since he began writing at age 16, Young’s work has taken him all across the United States and Canada. In 2014, Young independently released Canvases, a full-length collection of poems accompanied by original music. His poems are equally inspired by his faith in God and his fascination with the relationship between story and soul. Most recently, Young’s words have been used in hype videos for UGA Football where his voice has reached thousands. When he’s not writing and performing, Mike works as a Coffee Manager at Two Story in Five Points and as the Gathering Director of Grace Athens.

Mingshu Wang

Mingshu Wang is a PhD student at the Center for Geospatial Research, Department of Geography. He is also an intern at NASA DEVELOP National Program and the secretary of Sensor Web and Internet of Things Working Group of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. His integrate big data and geospatial analytics for urban informatics and computational social science. He was a recipient of NSF travel grant and Cartography and Geographic Information Society scholarship. He worked as a senior associate at the Capital One Financial Corporation, a research associate at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a consultant at the World Wildlife Fund- United States. He was the Chair at Student Advisory Council of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, for which he was recognized as one of the 16 outstanding leaders in UGA’s Pandora Yearbook (2014).

Phillip & Eileen Blume

Alumnus Phillip Blume and his wife Eileen are international award-winning, socially conscious photographers who believe that the power of visual media can change the world. From their Athens-based studio, the duo work with wedding and portrait clients worldwide. The Blumes are nationally recognized speakers at top industry conferences, including WPPI Las Vegas, ShutterFest in St. Louis, and CreativeLIVE broadcast globally online. They prioritize personal and charitable projects, most notably their 2011 documentary film Lost Boys of Paradise, which was screened in 30 U.S. states to benefit children in third-world slums. The Blumes live with their children in Watkinsville, GA.

Reese Hoffa

Alumnus Reese Hoffa is a three-time Olympic shot putter. After graduating as a five-time All American Athlete for the university, Hoffa went on to represent the United States as an Olympian in London, Athens, and Beijing. He won the bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012. Today, he lives in Watkinsville, GA with his wife Renata and is training for the 2016 Olympics. In addition to his athletic abilities, Hoffa also has a talent for solving Rubik’s cubes.

Spencer Hall

Spencer Hall is a fourth year Statistics major and Philosophy minor. Hall plans on attending graduate school to pursue a master’s in Statistics with a concentration in Bioinformatics. Hall has had first-hand experience with a chronic illness that could be benefited by the application of bioinformatics. His talk is about how the massive amount of genetic data available today is too large to be analyzed without statistical methods, and has consequences so important that we cannot afford not to study it.

Tifara Brown

Tifara Brown is a third year University of Georgia student from Ocilla, Georgia. She is majoring in Management Information Systems within the Terry College of Business. Brown is involved in several UGA organizations including UGA Model African Union and the Student Government Association. She enjoys reading, writing, and performing Spoken Word Poetry.

Organizing team




Athens, GA, United States
  • Claire Bertram
  • Kate Devlin