x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Growth

This event occurred on
January 13, 2018
Durham, North Carolina
United States

This event was attended by 100 participants, including students from both the residential and online programs at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM), a local high school, NCSSM faculty, administrators and staff, and other guests and friends of NCSSM. The program featured three adult speakers, including: Dr. Dawn Reno Langley, a prolific local author; Grace Kim, an NCSSM alum currently in PhD studies at MIT; and Dr. Jack Matlock, the former Ambassador to the Soviet Union under President Reagan. Two student speakers, Nina Yao and Vincent Xia, both NCSSM seniors, also presented. The event featured several breaks, allowing participants to exchange ideas, and the world premiere of a composition for string quartet by Giovani Leone and original photography by Angelina Katsanis.

North Carolina School of Science & Math
1219 Broad Street
Durham, North Carolina, 27705
United States
Event type:
Youth (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Dawn Reno Langley

Dawn Reno Langley is a writer, theater critic, mosaic artist, and educator who’s devoted her life to giving a voice to social justice issues. Her current works range from nonfiction works on art and antiques to children’s books, to stories that examine socially-relevant environmental issues. Whether it’s about civil rights issues or educating collectors about the value of Native American art, she writes about topics that are close to her heart. As a Fulbright scholar, her education has taken place in Pakistan, The Union Institute and University, and Vermont College. She’s been an author of 32 books and many award-winning pieces in nearly every genre, as well as a writing teacher, the editor/writer for Rewired Creatives, Inc., the win- ner of various fellowships, and a dean. Currently, she is working on a new novel, “The Art of Rivers,” based in NC and focused on interracial marriage.

Grace Kim

PhD Student, MIT
Grace Kim is a PhD candidate at MIT’s Doctoral Program in History | Anthro- pology | Science, Technology, and Society. She studies how scientists today are developing inno- vative technologies for art and heritage restoration, asking how technoscientific expertise is being made to intervene in the domains of history and aesthetics. Drawing from science and technology studies as well as the anthropology of art and heritage, she investigates how art and heritage materials are transformed as laboratory scientists use light, microbes, and nanotechnology to collaborate with conservators and to recover the authenticity of deteriorated artifacts. Her field sites include the United States and Italy. Her research has been funded by MIT and the U.S. Fulbright Student Program. Grace received her AB in History and Science at Harvard University and MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

Jack Matlock

Former Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Jack Matlock is a former Ambassador and current Visiting Scholar and Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University. He spent 35 years in the American Foreign Service, in which he served as the Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, as well as the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Prior to this, Ambassador Matlock also served in three tours at the American Embassy in the Soviet Union and had Foreign Service assignments across the world, including in Vienna and Dar es Salaam. Since his retirement, Ambassador Matlock has held academic posts at Columbia and Princeton University, and has authored a number of books on the Soviet Union. He and his wife now divide their time between Booneville, Tennessee and Durham, North Carolina.

Nina Yao

Student at the North Carolina School of Science and Math
Nina Yao is a senior from Durham, NC, who currently attends the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She is a student leader in the school’s DEEP S.I.D.E. (Distance Education Enrichment Program Student Instructors Developing Enrichments) program and promotes the STEM education of females through her work as one of the co-presidents of the school’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) and #STEM#LikeAGirl Club. She also conducts research at Duke University with Dr. Fan Yuan on mathematically modeling viral endocytosis through the Mentorship program at her school, which she also serves as a senior leader for. She hopes to eventually pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering. In her free time, she enjoys performing in cultural festival dances and musicals held at her school.

Vincent Xia

Student at the North Carolina School of Science and Math
Vincent was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and is now a senior at NCSSM. He serves as the Executive Director of the Student Environmental Education Coalition (SEEC), a local nonprofit organization that aims to promote environmental literacy across NC. Throughout his life, he makes it his personal mission to ensure that everyone is conscious of their own actions. Meanwhile, he hopes to use his experiences conducting energy research in his future as an aspiring environmental chemist. In his free time, he also enjoys staying active by spending time outdoors either running or playing tennis. Vincent loves having meaningful conversations with his peers and learning from those around him. His life experiences have shaped who he is, and now, he’s hoping to share them with others.

Organizing team


Durham, NC, United States


  • Deven Jahnke
  • Helen Li
  • Jessica Chen
  • John Benson
  • Tafui Leggard
  • Taylor Flach