Student of integrative physiology
Austin McKenna is a current graduate student in the UNLV School of Life Sciences Doctoral program, where he focuses on integrative physiology. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Austin pursued his bachelor’s degree at UNLV with an emphasis in the research sector of biology. For the past three years of graduate school Austin has worked as a graduate teaching assistant. His work with the infamous "Fat Flies" in Dr. Allen Gibbs’ lab has afforded Austin many public speaking opportunities over the last year. In November, he participated in the 2017 UNLV Grad slam 3MT competition and was awarded 1st place. This spring, Austin competed in the Western Association of Graduate Schools 3MT competition and the Southwest Showdown 3MT competition representing UNLV. Currently, Austin is focusing on his research on the evolutionary genomics of obesity. In his free time, Austin enjoys adventuring through the desert with his wife and two dogs. Austin plans to graduate in the next two years.
Student, hospitality professional
Ok Kyung, "Beth" Wi, originally from South Korea, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality from UNLV. Upon graduation, she spent five thousand hours in the air as a flight attendant at Cathay Pacific Airways, where she learned the importance of quality service delivery and cultural sensitivity. In fall of 2017, she began pursuing dual degrees at UNLV: a master's in business administration, and a masters of science in Hotel Administration. Following her passion for making an impact in the hospitality industry, the focus of her research is examining the influence of patron and employee relationships on acceptance of robotics in the workforce and how the level of interactions between customers and service providers can help achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. She devotes herself to academic growth and development as a leader who can inspire and empower others.
In this three-minute research presentation on an ethnography of the Las Vegas street car scene, you’ll learn about the impacts this phenomenon can have on large cosmopolitan communities.
Celine Ayala is a first-generation college student who received her master’s degree in sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In her research, she focused on the ways in which communal relations were formed in Las Vegas through participation in social scenes. Celine spent eighteen months with the Las Vegas street car scene attending car meets, car shows, and street racing events. Here she discovered what actions and interactions make the street car scene a definable phenomenon for both long-time participants and newcomers.
Her work concludes that the Las Vegas street car scene allows individuals to have a sense of accomplished affiliation that serves as a proxy for communal relations in Las Vegas.
Marketing data and econometrics
Corey Padveen is an industry-leading marketing data expert with extensive experience building strategies and working with brands in a variety of industries. He is a partner at t2 Marketing International, an award-winning marketing consultancy that has worked with some of the largest brands in the world over its 30-year history.
Corey’s expertise has led to him speaking at conferences, summits, and corporate events all over the world. He contributes regularly to a variety of online and print publications, including Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, Gambling Insider, iGaming Business, and is the primary author for t2’s corporate blog, as well as his personal blog, He sits on a number of advisory boards, including the global Ampersand Advisory Board for Gaming, thanks to his Millennial expertise, and is the author of “Marketing to Millennials For Dummies.” He is Google AdWords and Analytics certified and studied Economics at McGill University in Montreal.
What happens to the memorial items that accumulate after a mass shooting or celebrity death? Cynthia Sanford discusses the curating process after the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.
Working as registrar at the Clark County Museum since 2013, Cynthiaz literally processed thousands of items left at memorials for the 1 October shooting in Las Vegas. Prior to 2013, she worked as a registrar and collections manager at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Cynthia has a master’s degree in anthropology with a certificate in museum studies, and has been working in museums for approximately 20 years.
Designer and artist
At work, Huzaifa Sial creates healthcare solutions using artificial intelligence to curate and create knowledge, and predict health events for better patient outcomes. Huzaifa holds patents in A.I. and design, and is currently completing his Masters in Clinical Informatics from Northwestern University.
Beyond work, Huzaifa spends time creating and appreciating art and traveling across the country for deep conversations on human behavior, society and global citizenship.
Huzaifa was born in Pakistan, raised in Nepal, grew up in Canada and is currently working in the US. Adapting every few years to various cultures became the inspiration for his natural curiosity to explore different societies and human behaviors. As technology continues to transform and unify, now more than ever we need a path to find our place as a unified humanity. Huzaifa believes that maintaining plurality in thought, expression, and values will become the key to the next stage of human empathy.
Serial inventor and entrepreneur
How do you think?
How do you actively, consciously direct and manage your thoughts to solve extreme problems? The awareness of mental models to solve problems and make intelligent decisions, such as Charlie Munger's and Warren Buffet’s Farnam Street Lattice of Mental Models, is now intersecting underlying brain science to help us learn why some models are more effective than others.
In “Extreme Thinking for Extreme Problems”, Jim Marggraff presents novel approaches to thinking and problem solving, with references to developments in brain science gleaned from the half-dozen companies he has founded and co-founded.
Jim has created technologies and products that have helped over 100 million people in learning, communication, productivity, and thinking. With MS and SB degrees from MIT in computer science and engineering, and over 40 issued patents, Jim lists the LeapFrog LeapPad, the Livescribe Smartpen, and eye tracking and interaction technologies among his inventions.
Mass shooting survivor
Karessa Royce is a 23-year-old, college student, who experienced profound trauma in which she now describes as her “life change.”
On October 1, 2017, the largest mass shooting in modern U.S history took place on the Las Vegas Strip. Karessa was one of the concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, who was shot and severely injured when a shooter shot into the crowd from a hotel room window at the Mandalay Bay Resort.
In this talk, Karessa shares her life-changing experience and discusses how Post Traumatic Growth has played a role in her life as well as others'. She provides a hopeful message and an inspiring perspective about healing from trauma.
Karessa has proven to be resilient, spunky and transparent throughout her recovery by continuing her education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and through her volunteer efforts alongside a variety of organizations aimed at bringing awareness to public safety issues and the support of fellow trauma survivors.
Karl Catarata is a Filipino-American author and community organizer living in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) studying for his Bachelor’s of Arts in political science with a minor focus in leadership and civic engagement.
Karl was born in North Las Vegas, Nevada and studied at Valley High School’s International Baccalaureate Program, while simultaneously working in local county government. It was in high school when Karl published his first nonfiction book, "Lies We Tell: Applied Knowledge to Deception Detection."
Karl has helped organize key activist events such as the Women’s March Nevada and March For Our Lives, along with a diverse range of separate social justice issues.
After graduating from UNLV, Karl plans on continuing his academic research on grassroots activist movements and on voter mobilization in the United States.
Kimberly Galbe is a recent graduate of the UNLV School of Architecture Masters program, where she focused on issues of the contemporary built environment. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Kim moved to Las Vegas in 2013 to pursue her undergraduate degree. She has worked as a graduate teaching assistant throughout her two years of graduate school. Her work as part of the UNLV Urban Design Studio has taken Kimberly to various competitions over the last year. Kim was awarded the Michael Alcorn Scholarship for excellence in communication and graphic representation. In November, she participated in the the 2017 UNLV Grad slam 3MT competition where she was shortlisted as a finalist. Currently, Kimberly works as a job captain for Las Vegas-based architecture firm Ed Vance & Associates Architecture. In her free time, Kim enjoys singing, spending time with her family, and walking her dog, Nala. In the near future Kim plans to start taking exams to become a licensed architect.
Clown, actor, show creator
When was the last time you went to the circus? The circus is alive and progressing in American and in this day and age ... we need the circus more then ever.
Matthew Morgan is an actor, clown, comedian, host and show creator who has been working professionally in the circus and theater for over 20 years. He’s slipped in tiger poop, performed to sold out audiences across Australia, and been to 49 of the 50 states! His work has been presented at arts festivals in Edinburgh and Adelaide, on the Late Show with David Letterman, and in the casinos of Las Vegas. He loves to teach, direct, write, produce, perform, collaborate and is constantly trying to devise new ways to affect and entertain the world through classical theater and circus.
Independent musician and songwriter
How much would you sacrifice in order to follow your passion? Megan Slankard talks about her adventures and misadventures while pursuing her undeniable and irrepressible passion for music.
She has independently sold 40,000 copies of her five self-released albums, and is currently touring the US, performing new songs from her planned sixth independent release in late 2018. Her latest release, Running on Machinery, was recorded with the help of Nashville producer Alex Wong (Vienna Teng, Delta Rae), and A Token of the Wreckage, was recorded with help from David Bryson (Counting Crows) and Jerry Becker (Train).
Megan's adventures have included touring with Toad the Wet Sprocket; a 50-date Guitar Center tour sponsored by BOSE; touring with Dire Straits co-founder David Knopfler in Europe; duets with Pat Monahan and Train; singing the National Anthem at AT&T Park for the San Francisco Giants on three separate occasions; and participating in two episodes of TLC's, What NOT to Wear.
Social media professor & former comic book professional
A Visiting Lecturer at UNLV’s Greenspun College of Journalism and Media Studies teaching Social Media Strategies and Public Relations, Benjamin Morse moved to Las Vegas at the start of 2018. Born in Boston, Morse attended Connecticut College before relocating to the New York/New Jersey area where a lifelong love of super heroes and the comic book medium led him to a decade working at Marvel Entertainment in various capacities, including Editorial Director of Digital Media. He currently lives in Henderson with his wife, Megan, their 10-month-old daughter, and their puppy, Gypsy. He can be reached on Twitter @benjmorse.
Student, non-profit founder
What happens to a family when a child -- diagnosed with Autism but highly functioning, -- suddenly becomes non-verbal? Radhika Shah, an upcoming junior in Henderson, Nevada, shares the story of her younger brother Amar and his sudden decline in functionality. Because of her brother's limitations, she has always worked with children with special needs, volunteering for Best Buddies, Special Olympics, and other organizations within her community. Recognizing a gap in southern Nevada in Autisim support, she founded a non-profit organization, RAD or making a Real Autism Difference. Spreading the message of Autism awareness is something that she looks forward to continuing. Aside from this, Radhika is a dedicated student who values academic excellence and participates in speech and debate, Model United Nations, and varsity tennis. She is also a part-time student at UNLV. In the future, Radhika looks forward to pursuing a career in medicine, specifically with a neuropediatric focus.
Social scientist of inequalities, author
Can we eliminate poverty by targeting drugs, gangs, violence, and teen parenthood? Many policy makers, community organizers, and social scientists tend to think so. In this talk highlighting a surprising story about poverty, sociologist and author Ranita Ray explains how these things reinforces racial hierarchies, makes things harder for those growing up in poverty, and strengthens the cycle of poverty instead of breaking it.
Ranita Ray grew up in a boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas near the India-Nepal border. After spending three years in an economically marginalized community she calls “Port City,” Ranita published The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City—a book that challenges dominant ideas about poor communities and offers novel ways of tackling poverty. Ranita hopes the insights from her research will allow us to shed new light on the social reproduction of poverty.
Born and raised in the industrial Midwest, Raymond is a graduate of Indiana University Northwest with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He has spent a combined eight years in the classroom, both in Nevada and Indiana, covering everything from Head Start to welding and automotive. Raymond has Roberts Syndrome, and is one of approximately one hundred fifty people in the world with this disability. He has run for public office, been a radio show host, is a representative member of his leadership class, board member of the transit authority, and chairman of the board of a cannabis non-profit organization. Throughout all this, Raymond has remained a consultant for the last twenty-five years focusing on disability issues, politics, and public transportation.
“Millennials” are the most studied cohort in history. Ironically, they are also the least understood. Perhaps it is because they don’t really exist at all.
Futurist, researcher and storyteller Roberto Coppola shares insights on a modern approach to generational segmentation that could help you tap into a deeper connection with today’s young adults, particularly if you happen to be one. Contact Roberto at linkedin.com/in/robertocoppola.
Entrepreneur, collaboration specialist, blogger, and columnist
After years of experience in business and community collaboration, Russ shares some of the lessons he’s learned. This talk focuses on the differences and power of focusing on interests rather than positions while maintaining an outlook of abundance. There’s always a way for everyone to get more of what they want. He believes that helping others get what they really want is the key to getting more of what you want. He’s gained this experience as the president of the North East Washington Forest Coalition and 15 years as vice president for Vaagen Bros Lumber, Inc. in Colville, WA.
Dr. Savvas Trichas is a speaker and experienced TEDx presenter, who combines cutting edge research with instruction, creating motivational moments with practical value. Trichas is associated with the FBI National Academy Associates Cyprus Police where he serves as a guest lecturer under the topics of management, communication, and deception detection. In addition, he reviews manuscripts for international scientific journals related with leadership and organizational behavior. His research interests focus on a specific nonverbal area: facial expressions. As a result of his studies, he became certified coder in the facial action coding system (FACS). FACS is a highly valid, widely used tool that combines anatomy with photo or video analysis observation to define exact facial muscle movement and intensity (Ekman, Friesen, & Hager, 2002; Trichas, 2015).
In the summer of 2004, Shawn Sturges, graduated from high school, turned eighteen, and lost his sight, the result of Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. After the loss of his vision, he battled with depression which often separated him from friends and family members.
A life-changing event came in 2015, when he was introduced to rock climbing. He joined the Adaptive Climbing Group competition team and competed at the 2016 USA Climbing Adaptive Nationals in Georgia placing second in the visually impaired category. This earned him a spot on team USA and he competed in the 2016 IFSC World Para Climbing Championships in Paris. He did not place, but he learned a tremendous amount about himself and climbing.
Climbing has taken Sturges all over the the world. He learned skills in crack climbing, aid and trad climbing, repelling, anchor building, and many other climbing techniques to be both a safe and responsible climber.
Human resourcers, career coach, author
Tim Toterhi offers a far more inclusive concept of inclusion than traditional diversity programs provide. He encourages people to look beyond labels, find meaningful connections, and begin to appreciate the value, beauty, and complexity of the individual.
Not your usual CHRO, Toterhi is passionate about slashing bureaucracy and rethinking old thinking. As an ICF certified coach and Project Management Professional (PMP) who has worked in the trenches with teams in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, he craves results over activity and seeks fewer forms and more function.
Tim is the author of several books including The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting: How To Outshine the Competition and The HR Guide to Getting and Crushing the Job of Your Dreams. He has been quoted in several leading publications such as Fast Company, Forbes, and the HuffPost as well as profiled in the book Magnificent Leadership.
Actor, director, videographer, storyteller
Born into Hollywood royalty–son to Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and brother to Carrie Fisher–Todd Fisher is a veteran of the entertainment industry who has thrived under the media spotlight his entire life.
His 2018 book My Girls: A Lifetime With Carrie and Debbie (Harper Collins) gave a firsthand account of the years he spent as a companion to the pair of iconic women in his life. It also shed light on the personal sides of fame, addiction, and mental illness that followed the family for decades.
Unlike his parents and sister, Todd is best known for his work behind the camera. He produced and co-starred in the 2017 HBO documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. He has also served as a producer and director on dozens of prominent films and specials. He has also served as president and archivist for Hollywood Motion Picture Museum.
In addition, he is a pilot, an ordained minister, a competitive golfer and an avid collector of classic film equipment.