x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Signal vs Noise

This event occurred on
November 4, 2017
Calgary, Alberta

In today's chaotic world, what is SIGNAL and what is NOISE? What ideas should we be paying close attention to, and which ones do we need to learn to ignore?

TEDxCalgary presents more than a dozen speakers and performers in a rich, full day of talks and interactions between participants. Hear from an astronaut, an aurora hunter, a young robot inventor, a master entrepreneur and machine collector, a world-class cancer researcher, a poet laureate and more! Event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., including lunch and interaction/refreshment breaks.

University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, T3B 5E6
Event type:
Standard (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Adam Robb

Adam Robb is an Albertan teacher/program developer who believes that students deserve to have the chance to design solutions that will result in stronger, more resilient communities. His students have attended and presented at environmental design conferences throughout North America and are now some of Canada¹s most influential environmental change-makers. Also, he led students in becoming the co-designers of the first self-sustainable modular classroom, the SEED project, now built and utilized by students throughout several U.S. States. See Adam's full bio:

Alastair Luft

Warrior, Thinker, Novelist
Separating signal from noise is an essential part of a military officer's professional life, whether it's part of the planning and conduct of operations or in helping to manage the effects of moral injuries and post-traumatic stress. Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Luft has served with the Canadian Army for over twenty years as a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, Alastair has served multiple tours of duty in combat zones around the world. His first novel, The Battle Within, was released this summer, and he is currently working on a second novel.

Dr. Eric Donovan

Although he initially focused on more theoretical and model-driven approaches to space physics, Dr. Eric Donovan's transformative moment came when he was asked in 1998 to examine data from Canada’s then only auroral camera being operated in Gillam, Manitoba. After spending an hour looking at aurora images collected by Leroy Cogger, he has since worked on almost nothing but the mysteries of the Northern Lights. His team now operates 40 auroral cameras across Canada (with another 20 planned), and are involved in US and European satellite missions as world leaders in observing the northern lights, using their data to answer questions about geospace – the outermost part of Earth’s environment. Full bio available at:

Dr. Micheline Maylor

How better to send out signal than being Calgary’s Poet Laureate ? Micheline Maylor attained her Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in English Language and Literature with a specialisation in Creative Writing and 20th Century Canadian Literature. As Calgary’s third poet laureate since the program was established in 2011, she is an artistic ambassador for Calgary, presenting at civic events and producing literary work that reflects our city and its citizens. She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University, where she won the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award. Her collection Little Wildheart is with U of A Press (2017) and was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch award for experimental poetry. She was the Calgary Public Library Author in Residence in the fall of 2016. She also serves as poetry editor at Frontenac House Press, and is the co-founder of Freefall Literary Society, where she remains a consulting editor. See her full bio at:

Dr. Robert Thirsk

As a member of the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut corps, Dr. Robert Thirsk has spent a combined 205 days in space, observing our world and its signals and noise from a unique vantage point. First flying in 1996 for 17 days aboard the space shuttle Columbia as part of the Life and Microgravity Spacelab Mission, he returned in 2009 with a 188-day mission on the International Space Station to perform robotic operations and station maintenance. Dr. Thirsk is a strong promoter of an economy based upon exploration and innovation, and encourages students to build their career dreams upon a solid educational foundation and advanced skills. He currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Calgary, and holds a degree in engineering, an MBA, and a Doctorate of Medicine.

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

How do we practice psychotherapy without losing the essence of the human story and experiences inside the person? Dr. Saira believes that when we can change our stories, we change our lives, and works tirelessly with clients to help craft a new narrative of health and wholeness. She holds a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, and has been in private practice as a psychotherapist and workshop facilitator for over ten years. As a Canadian Certified Counsellor with a special interest in the inner life and spirituality, she bridges mainstream psychological principles with the deeper questions of value and meaning that allow people to separate Signal from Noise in their personal lives, especially at key transformative decision points. See full bio:

Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale

Sheelagh Carpendale is a full Professor in Computer Science at the University of Calgary where she holds a tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Information Visualization and NSERC/AITF/SMART Technologies Industrial Research Chair in Interactive Technologies. She has received many awards including the E.W.R. NSERC STEACIE Memorial Fellowship; a BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts Interactive Awards); an ASTech Innovations in Technology award; and the CHCCS Achievement Award, which is presented periodically to a Canadian researcher who has made a substantial contribution to the fields of computer graphics, visualization, or human-computer interaction. Other awards accruing to her group include: twice Best HCI PhD in Canada, a Digital Alberta Award, a finalist in the Canadian New Media Awards and IEEE VIS VPG Dissertation awards. See her full bio at:

Dr. Sunil Verma

Dr. Sunil Verma, MD, MSEd, FRCPC, is internationally recognized for his research and education leadership in breast cancer. His research interests include developing novel therapies for breast cancer, reducing toxicities associated with systemic treatment, and medical education. He is the principal investigator for many trials in breast cancer, including a number of practice changing Phase III trials. His work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer. He has led and created numerous innovative educational projects in oncology and has won several teaching and mentoring awards. See full bio:

Ghada Alatrash

Author Ghada Alatrash is a passionate voice for refugees and women from the Syrian conflict, both through her own book of short stories, Stripped to the Bone: Portraits of Syrian Women, and her translated collections of Arabic poems. See her full bio at:

Hafiz Mitha

Hafiz Mitha, Founder + CEO, is a successful, award-winning entrepreneur with a proven track record of bringing software companies to market. Co-founding JOI Media and Katipult, a SaaS product that has international customers, Hafiz has experience in founding, scaling and exiting a company. Starting as a three person shop to a global firm with over 30 employees and clients in various parts of the world, Hafiz was responsible for operations, building strategic partnerships and growing sales. His passion for entrepreneurship and his love of community, sports and technology led him to found PlayCity. Utilizing his experience in running a software agency, leading strategy sessions and mapping out phases of complex software projects helped Hafiz create PlayCity using a lean methodology while bootstrapping the application to date.

Jaeson Cardiff

Jaeson Cardiff is a licensed plumber, gas-fitter, commercial heating technician and has dedicated 20 years to the advancement of the heating industry. He is also the co-founder and CEO of CleanO2 Carbon Capture Technologies; a company founded in Calgary in 2013. Early this year he helped launch the world’s first small scale carbon capture and heat recovery system for the commercial heating industry. See his bio:

Lauren Voisin

Lauren Voisin started Robots Are Fun when she was 8, and her passion remains to encourage other kids to try robotics and see what they can create. She was the crowd favourite at a Google Edu Start Up weekend in 2013, when she was still just 9, and regularly exhibits her projects at the Calgary Mini Maker Faire and MakeFashion. Lauren has been a speaker at many events including the San Francisco Maker Faire, Chic Geek, Walrus Talks, The U.N. Compact Global Summit for Gender Equality and in several schools in the Calgary area. She also has been featured in Owl Magazine and was on the youth advisory Board at the Werklund Youth Leadership Advisory Center at the University of Calgary from 2014-2017. See full bio at:

Midnight Taiko Kai

Few things generate signal like the drum. Midnight Taiko Kai is a community-based performance group in Calgary that promotes Japanese culture through Taiko drumming. The group currently has 17 members and have performed at well over 150 events throughout Calgary and Alberta. Many of their songs have roots within the traditional Taiko groups on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, but their continued inspiration comes from the rich and diverse styles of Taiko ensembles from Japan and throughout the world. See the full bio here:

Tomko Lamb

Is it an anachronism to play 80s pop-inspired tunes on an instrument that has been around since the Middle Ages, or a tribute to the versatility and beauty of a 120-string instrument whose unique signal has entertained through the ages? Tomko Lamb is a third generational hammered dulcimer player, who still has an original instrument built by his grandfather based on copy of a Gypsy instrument from the early 1900s. A teacher by profession, Tomko started life as a busker and has played his dulcimer on the street and at fringe and other festivals across Canada, Australia. He still does improv with Loose Moose Theatre, but most enjoys creating bubbles of serenity with his dulcimer in the middle of our frantic, chaotic world.

Organizing team


Calgary, Canada


Calgary, Canada