John Textor is the founding principal of Digital Domain Media Group and its chairman and CEO, and chairman of Digital Domain, the parent of Digital Domain Productions. He founded Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC, a Florida-based private holding company focused on technology-related opportunities in entertainment, telecommunications and the Internet, and has served as its (and its predecessor's) president since 1997. He served as the chairman and CEO of BabyUniverse, Inc., until its sale in October of 2007. Prior to that, Mr. Textor was employed in various merchant banking and investment banking capacities by Shearson Lehman Hutton and Paine Webber. He was also a founding director of Florida-based diversified financial services company Lydian Trust Company, and was a director of Multicast Media Technologies, Inc., a global provider of Internet-based broadcast media. Mr. Textor was previously chairman of the board of Sims Snowboards, a prominent global brand.
Mr. Textor is a native Floridian from West Palm Beach, Florida. He is a product of the public school system of Florida, ultimately graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He has returned to Florida to build Digital Domain's new animation studio in Port St. Lucie and the Digital Domain Institute in conjunction with Florida State University in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Ed Ulbrich spoke at TED2009 representing a team of filmmakers, artists, and technologists who've been working on a significant breakthrough in visual storytelling -- a startling blurring of the line between digital creation and actor.
Ulbrich is the executive VP of production at Digital Domain, for whom he's executive-produced Academy Award-winning visual effects for Titanic, What Dreams May Come, Fight Club, Zodiac, Adaptation and other features, as well as music videos and more than 500 commercials. In 2007 and 2009, he was named to Creativity Online's Creativity 50 -- top innovators in advertising and design.
Arthur Benjamin makes numbers dance. In his day job, he's a professor of math at Harvey Mudd College; in his other day job, he's a "Mathemagician," taking the stage in his tuxedo to perform high-speed mental calculations, memorizations, and other astounding math stunts. It's part of his drive to teach math and mental agility in interesting ways, following in the footsteps of such heroes as Martin Gardner.
Dr. Edith “Edie” Widder is a biologist and deep-sea explorer who is applying her expertise in oceanographic research and technological innovation to reversing the worldwide trend of marine ecosystem degradation.
Edie graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She then went on to earn a Master's Degree in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology awarded by the University of California in Santa Barbara.
Suntex International Inc., the company Robert Sun founded, evolved into an organization committed to furthering mathematics education. Students and teachers around the world continue to use the innovative 24® game series as a tool to make math appealing and accessible -- thereby helping students to move on to excel in math, science and related fields. In 2002, with the rise of a generation of web learners, Sun created the web-based First In Math® Online Program.
Jeff Taylor has been an entrepreneur from the meltdown dot com days to the reinvention of the World Wide Web. In 1993, he founded the iconic Monster.com and helped it grow into the gargantuan company it is today.
Jeff moved on from being Chief Monster and launched Tributes.com, an online obituary website. Tributes.com has over one million unique visitors and is growing 15% a month -- and that’s just one of his three current companies. He’s a guy who has trouble containing every idea he dreams up (literally). Here’s a peek into a true innovator's brain.
Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez is the guiding spirit behind Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center, or DRC. Rodriguez calls his job a blessing and a gift -- one that the Vietnam veteran says rescued him from deep post-war despair. In 1984, Rodriguez and his then-wife Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez founded the nonprofit DRC after working as head trainer and manager of the research facility that previously existed on the property.
Peter has been producing musical theatre on the Treasure Coast for over 15 years. His vast resume includes musical directing, piano accompaniment, and performing.
Originally from New York, Jennifer Jones is a teacher, director, and performer. She teaches private and group acting classes, audition technique, and musical theatre classes. Jennifer directs all of StarStruck’s summer teen musicals as well as professional shows throughout the Treasure Coast. In 2007 and 2009, Jennifer received the MTI Junior Festival Awards for outstanding overall production and outstanding technical achievement.
Steve Johnson is the author of a book titled Digital Tools for Teaching: 30 E-tools for Collaborating, Creating, and Publishing Across the Content Areas. He is an instructional technology facilitator at JN Fries Middle School in Concord, N.C. He works with educators to harness the power of digital tools to improve student achievement.
Internationally acclaimed countertenor, Terry Barber, is known for his extraordinary range both vocally and stylistically. Past member of the multiple-Grammy winning group, Chanticleer, Terry Barber has been a soloist for the best venues around the world, from the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, to Moscow’s Svetlanov Hall, and has also appeared as a soloist on recordings for every major record label with a variety of artists from Madonna to the London Philharmonic. Barber has a Masters degree in historically informed performance from Trinity College, London, is committed to supporting arts education, and founded Artists For A Cause Inc., a nonprofit which helps artists in every genre to improve communities.
Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, renowned teacher, and internationally-recognized expert in childhood education and developmental psychology. Her workshops touch thousands of lives each year, and her top-selling book titles have over 200,000 copies in circulation.
Dr. Bailey is the founder of Loving Guidance, Inc., a company dedicated to creating positive environments for children, families, schools and businesses. She is also the developer of the Conscious Discipline program.
As Executive Director of the Clark Advanced Learning Center, Maria Mosley brings more than 30 years of experience as an educator at the secondary and college levels. Mosley graduated from Barry University with a Master's Degree in Human Resources Administration and Supervision and attended Florida Atlantic University for principal certification.
A former science teacher, career specialist, and assistant principal, Mosley was selected as one of three teachers to represent the Quad-County Tech Prep Consortium to train hundreds of teachers along the Treasure Coast on "Best Practices” in instructional effectiveness.
Chuck Williams joined Digital Domain Media Group in 2010 after a 21-year career as a Disney animator. While at Disney, he worked on such films as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. He was executive producer of the 2003 animated feature Brother Bear, which fellow TEDxThePineSchool speaker Aaron Blaise directed. Williams is a creative producer/director and experienced storyteller with proficiency in story development, leading large teams, and multi-million dollar feature films. He is consistently successful in idea generation, story development, and getting projects greenlit to create original, multi-faceted, mass entertainment films. He works in close partnership with directors and other filmmakers to strategically position projects and produce them.
Aaron Blaise joined Digital Domain Media Group in 2010 after a 21-year career at Disney, where he co-directed Brother Bear and garnered an Academy Award Nomination for Best Animated Feature. Prior to that, Aaron served as supervising animator on the mega-hits Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan. He also served as an animator on Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas. Aaron is a native Floridian and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ringling College.
For the past 10 years, Andrew Nowak has been the Project Director for Slow Food Denver’s Seed To Table (STT) School Garden program. He has been involved in the growth of the STT program from four school gardens to more than 35 school sites. Chef Nowak has helped to develop a Youth Farmers’ Market program that appeared in 25 schools last year and received funding to implement the YFM model in food deserts in Denver. For the past two years, Andrew has also been the community partner for Denver Public Schools’ School Food Learning Lab, helping the Food and Nutrition Services source local foods for the cafeterias. Chef Nowak has been a culinary professional for over 30 years. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Iowa.
As Dolphin Research Center’s Administrative Director of Research, Emily’s primary responsibility is to coordinate all aspects of research projects that are conducted at the nonprofit facility. This includes implementing in-house research projects, creating experimental stimuli, overseeing daily research activities, supervising research staff and interns, and interfacing with staff in other departments in order to achieve research goals.
In order to accomplish these goals, she is also a dolphin trainer and works directly with DRC’s resident colony of dolphins and sea lions on both research projects and public programs. She has been the point person in integrating research into interactive programs, such as Researcher For a Day and Dolphin Explorers.
Emily has been with DRC since 2002, and is a co-author of publications in The International Journal of Comparative Cognition, Animal Cognition, and The Journal of Comparative Psychology.
She has helped to prepare numerous papers and posters that have been presented before the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, International Marine Animal Trainers Association, the Animal Behavior Society, and the Comparative Cognition Society.
Prior to joining DRC, Emily did field work for the Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from Unity College, ME.
In addition to her research responsibilities, Emily also serves on the Avian Care Committee and is a trained manatee assessor for DRC’s Manatee Rescue Team.
Kirsten Donald’s long connection with Dolphin Research Center began in the mid-1990s when she enrolled in the nonprofit facility’s college-accredited DolphinLab courses. From student she became a volunteer, and then joined DRC’s Education staff in 1997. In addition to her position as Director of Education and, of course, friend to the center’s family of dolphins, Kirsten serves DRC as Population Management Analyst. She is also a biologist who earned her Master’s degree in Marine Mammal Science from the University of Wales, Bangor, in 2005. On any given day, Kirsten may be involved in a variety of areas important to the DRC mission such as education, dolphin care and training, research, population analysis, program development as well as overseeing the activities of the Education Department.
Beyond the Florida Keys, where DRC is located, Kirsten is active on the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) Education Committee. In recent years, she spearheaded a project to update, standardize, and properly cite the educational information about bottlenose dolphins that is used by all AMMPA member facilities worldwide. This included facts about life history, ecology, physiology, biology, and conservation status about the species. She has presented at numerous conferences including ones of the AMMPA, , International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA) Conference, Florida Marine Science Educator’s Association Conference and National Marine Science Educator’s Association Conference. Articles by Kirsten have been published in IMATA’s quarterly journal. At the invitation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), she participated in that agency’s efforts to develop the Dolphin SMART program in the Florida Keys. Dolphin SMART seeks to certify dolphin-watching operations in accordance with marine mammal safety guidelines. Kirsten has also represented DRC at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hearings with regard to issues surrounding the welfare and endangered status of the Florida Manatee.
Dr. Schatzle is Director of Scientific Affairs at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida. He is responsible for coordinating the scientific and educational activities at the institute located in Port St. Lucie, FL. Dr. Schatzle is an Immunologist and served as a Professor of Immunology and Pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for nearly 15 years prior to coming to VGTI-FL. He also served as Chairman of the Immunology Graduate Program at UT Southwestern. His research focus has been on the study of immune responses to viruses and cancer cells as well as the study of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Dr. Schatzle earned his PhD from the LSU Medical Center and did his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas in Austin and has been involved in graduate and medical school education for nearly twenty years.
Kevin Lucas, owner of The Factory Fitness and Performance Center, is a certified MPT-III (Master Personal Trainer with more than 1,000 logged hours) with the International Sports Science Association, a Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) instructor, and a sports performance coach. He has a background in sports and athletics that spans more than 40 years. He played in the English professional basketball league, taught aerobics, studied martial arts, dabbled in bodybuilding, and played almost every sport you can imagine. His extensive athletic background has served him well in figuring out the best strategy to help his clients achieve their fitness goals.
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is currently a consultant/contractor for a number of U.S. government agencies. He had a long and successful career in the music and entertainment field as a founding member of the group Steely Dan and was a Grammy-winning guitarist with The Doobie Brothers and as a record producer for such artists as Carl Wilson, Nazareth, and The Stray Cats. He has toured with The Stray Cats, Elton John, Julian Lennon, and Linda Ronstadt. He has been a studio musician for 35 years, recording with such artists as Donna Summer, Dolly Parton, Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Julio Iglesias, and Rod Stewart and has composed music for movies and television including the original theme for “Beverly Hill 90210,” music for “King of the Hill,” and scoring for movies like “Bull Durham” and “Roxanne.” He has been a design engineer/consultant for Akai, Roland, Audio-Technica, Allen & Heath and Fender and is still actively involved as a guitarist, composer, producer, and engineer.
Chris McCrory graduated from Glassboro State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology. He holds technical certifications from Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Dell, and Florida teaching certification in Technology Education. He has presented at multiple national conferences and has more than 11 years of experience working in the information technology field, as well as eight years of experience as a classroom teacher. As an instructor, Mr. McCrory received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach engineering for a year in Dunfermline, Scotland.