Science communicator, teacher, maker, author, and presenter who knows how to make the world of science come alive in a big way.
Things Will Fly Through The Air: Inspiring Science Through Chaos
Chaos in the classroom would normally describe a teacher’s worst day. Yet for Bob Pflugfelder, chaos has a unique side effect that creates a powerful teaching tool both in the classroom, and on late night talk shows.
"Science Bob " Pflugfelder is a science communicator, teacher, maker, author, and presenter who knows how to make the world of science come alive in a big way. He regularly appears on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and Live With Kelly & Ryan, as well as guest starring as himself on several episodes of Nickelodeon's Nicky, Ricky Dicky, & Dawn. Bob has also appeared on television internationally in Japan, Rome, and Singapore. Bob shares his excitement of science at many science and maker events in the U.S. and abroad. His popular Nick & Tesla children's books have encouraged many elementary and middle school students to read and build their own gadgets. To date, the series has been translated into 10 languages.
Writer, Unschooling Organizer, Podcaster, and Founding Board Member of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education
Akilah is the primary voice behind Raising Free People Network, a
community-oriented project that uses media and trainings to challenge and encourage social justice-minded people to explore privilege and power in their relationships with children.
“We must examine privilege and power in our relationships with our children, the world’s most vulnerable citizens, and embrace chaos in efforts to allow trust-based practices to emerge. We can do this through liberation work that centers a decolonization of childhood, allowing trust-based practices and language to emerge. The practice brings forth a necessary chaos, a shedding of the power-over dynamic from adults toward children.”
A writer, an unschooling organizer, and a founding board member of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education, Akilah's focus is on sharing the ways Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities continue to utilize unschooling as a tool for decolonizing learning, and for liberating themselves.
Co-founder at Neurosity, Developer Expert at Google, and a former Software Engineer at Netflix.
There are 21 emotions for which there are no English words. How do we know exactly how we’re feeling? To answer this question, we must take a deep dive into the brain. One of the most effective scientific ways to do so is via a brain scan called an EEG, which captures the electrical activity produced by neurons. The result consists of thousands of numbers per second, data which enables us to measure our emotions. What can such a mysterious sequence of numbers tell us about our feelings? How can we navigate the complexities of the abstract mind and understand what makes us human? Alex will explore the use of technology to measure emotions and learn more about ourselves.
A co-founder at Neurosity, a Developer Expert at Google, and a former Software Engineer at Netflix, Alex is passionate about the human brain and how technology can help to understand it better. He co-founded Neurosity on the belief we can empower the mind and change how humans interact with computers.
Photographer, Environmental Advocate
The New York Pigeon: Behind the Feathers
A native New Yorker and a fine art and editorial photographer, Garn has spent the last eight years photographing the urban avian, both outdoors and in a studio. His photos are collected in The New York Pigeon: Behind the Feathers.
Garn volunteers with the Wild Bird Fund (WBF), the city’s sole wildlife rehabilitation center, and worked with the organization to produce the book. Many of the avians he captured were found and sent to the WBF, often to treat afflictions such as lead poisoning, which harms 15% of birds they admit.
The book also includes a brief history of the feral pigeon. From their role in Ancient Egypt as sources of fertilizer to their numerous contributions as news or wartime messengers, pigeons have built vital relationships with humans over centuries. Since 2008, Andrew has documented the entire spectrum of development, including full-grown pigeons, newborns, babies and “squeakers,” and he has grown to love these birds.
To scientists, “chaos” does not mean randomness. Researchers use chaos to describe situations where two nearly identical starting points lead to completely different results. Also known as the “butterfly effect,” chaos has a profound impact on our lives. It’s why weather is unpredictable and heart rates can change quickly. Quantum mechanics only allows systems that interact with their environment to exhibit chaos, which is very different from macroscopic, “classical” mechanics.
Andrew began researching quantum chaos as an undergraduate at Carleton College. In the lab, he simulates chaotic systems to study the onset of quantum behavior, which has applications in quantum computing and engineering. He has also prototyped detectors for the next generation of gamma-ray space telescopes at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He also has a strong interest in the role of science in the public sphere. He’ll graduate in June with a major in physics and public policy minor.
Venture Capitalist and Stand-Up Comedian.
2018 was the year when Ben Freeberg was diagnosed with cancer, had major changes in work, helped friends and family fight health battles, and entered into the creative writing and comedy world. Ben says that chaos has helped him to become an adult.
Ben is a venture capitalist and stand-up comedian who lives in NYC. He has performed all over New York at clubs including Caroline's, Gotham, and Dangerfield's, and has shared the stage with Jim Gaffigan, Caroline Rhea, and many others. During the day, Ben works as a venture capital associate for Alpha Venture Partners. Ben graduated from Duke University, where he studied Economics. He is a tennis coach and player, likes to play basketball and snowboard, and is an expert in the ancient art of juggling Chinese Devil Sticks.
Award-winning comedian who has appeared on most of the popular late-night shows and grand finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.
The Joke That Saved My Life
On our worst days, it’s often a joke that can save us and we can sometimes remember the joke as vividly as the crisis. Cory shows how humor is a tool anyone can use to conquer fear, endure trauma, and manage chaos. “As a victim of domestic violence, I know what it’s like to feel trapped and powerless. Fortunately, on my worst day, I stumbled upon my superpower. My then-husband was about to disfigure me with a jagged piece of wood and I disarmed him with nothing more than a joke. Since then I’ve used this technique to overcome any and all obstacles.”
An award-winning comedian, Cory has been seen on CONAN, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Late Show with David Letterman, The View, and America’s Got Talent. She also made a record 7 appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and was a grand finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Cory had her own Comedy Central special and her off-Broadway hit “The J.A.P. Show” ran in NYC for 6 months.
Adventurer, Mountain Climber, SVP in Asset Management
Chaos of Climbing Everest: The Mental Journey
Picture an Everest climber. Strong. Resilient. Capable. But everyone has weaknesses, and Everest will expose them. Courtney recently became the 68th American woman to summit Mount Everest and survive. Despite the challenges of climbing to 29,029 feet into The Death Zone - where the altitude is so high, cold, windy, and deprived of oxygen the human body starts to eat itself - Everest has a contagious allure. On Everest, Courtney conquered her own mental chaos and learned several life-changing lessons along the way.
Courtney has worked in Finance in NYC for the past 12 years and is currently SVP at an asset management firm. After graduating from Columbia University, she began working on Wall Street. Her love of the outdoors developed during the depths of the financial crisis. She now uses her vacation time to climb some of the world’s highest peaks, including Denali, Kilimanjaro, and Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
High School Teacher and Baseball Coach
Perspective As A Weapon
No two steps Fox has ever taken have been the same, and his balance is at times so fickle that he can find himself face first on the ground at any moment. Cerebral Palsy. Fox's chaos.
However, has he been teaching and coaching for the past 15 years? Will he be standing in front of our TEDxAsburyPark audience on May 18th (Lord willing)? You bet.
Chaos is an inevitable part of our everyday lives. Using perspective as a weapon against it can be a powerful tool. So stand up to your mayhem. Punch it in the mouth. And win anyway.
A classroom teacher at Whippany Park High School since 2005, Fox Beyer has spent the last 12 years as the bench coach for the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. After publishing a book of poetry in 2015, he has dedicated much of his time to conveying the challenges of Cerebral Palsy through writing, speaking, and his “What’s Your Inspiration” podcast.
Co-founder of Gramener, Leader, Story Teller, Writer and speaker
Saving our Planet’s Biodiversity with AI
The global environmental crisis and rapid depletion of our flora and fauna have triggered Earth’s sixth mass extinction. Pushed to the brink of disaster, our natural world is in total chaos. As we scramble for solutions, Artificial Intelligence has shown up as an unlikely savior.
AI is busy at work saving our world, paradoxically, from our own hands. Starting with a simple explanation of the technology, this talk will showcase the revolutionary work being done using AI to save the endangered species in our forests and oceans. Along with a future outlook, we’ll see how everyone can contribute.
Ganes is the co-founder of Gramener, a data science company that uses AI to tell stories from data. A passionate writer and speaker, Ganes is on an endeavor to simplify data science and help everyone understand its true potential.
Immersive Experience Game Designer, Performance Artist and Teacher
Gamifying Chaos: Embracing Uncertainty Through Play
In moments of chaos, games and interactive experiences can help us remain playful in the face of uncertainty. When circumstances greater than us, be it climate change, politics, love, or family, seem to render personal choices meaningless, chaos is a tool for catalyzing unexpected connections and creativity in ourselves and others, and game-theater is the training ground where we learn how to use it. Game-theater combines the tight-knit storytelling of immersive theater and the agency of game design to explore whether chaos is a situation to be wrestled into submission or a blank canvas of unbridled opportunity.
Jessica is an immersive experience game designer and performance artist based in NYC and Philadelphia. She teaches Serious and Experimental Games at Drexel University and University of the Arts and she is the founder of IKantKoan Immersive Experiences, focused on fostering agency through play.
Entrepreneur, Inventor, Leader, Mentor
Ambiguity can be frightening, but we alone among all creatures can see past it, not only to survive, but to thrive. Working with a game company once, John learned that games need three things: rules, scoring and peril. The fear of losing is what makes the game engaging. Drama works on the same principle. “Kill your darlings” is common advice for writers; readers and viewers want characters they can relate to, enduring torments that they can’t — not to see them suffer, but to see them succeed. We all possess the hardwiring to embrace ambiguity, it just takes practice.
John is Co-President of Nottingham Spirk, a leading business and product innovation firm with 1,200 commercialized patents, 95% of which have been commercialized. John is a 2017 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, an inductee of the Inside Business Hall of Fame and a 2017 winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Common Ground on Reproductive Rights? Yes. Really.
We live in a country in chaos. And there are few issues more chaotic and divisive than abortion. In 2016, Jordan saw what was happening to reproductive rights in the US and raised funds to take a four-month journey to the deep south to meet with people from all sides.
After being on the road, Jordan realized that perhaps there’s one old idea that could be repackaged via a few YouTube videos to solve a lot of the abortion crisis in the US before it descends into total chaos--an idea written on papyrus 3,500 years ago. He hopes his idea has the potential to unite both sides and save many women and their companions a lot of trauma.
From the amazing folks at West Virginia Free to 3,000-strong anti-abortion rallies at mega churches and from women in rural Louisiana and Mississippi, Jordan heard stories that changed his life. He says “My bio really is more than what I have done; it’s who I have become.”
History Professor, Author
Chaos Theory and the Beatles
The Beatles and their generation not only shaped the political culture of the ’60s, but also embodied values and ideals that inspired a revolutionary change in consciousness for decades. Ken’s idea is a thought experiment applying chaos theory to history and exploring the possibility that the Beatles and the revolutionary changes of the 1960s emerged out of the chaos created by the breakdown of the established order caused by the collective effects of the First and Second World Wars. This cultural phenomenon remains largely inexplicable.
A Professor of History at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, Dr. Campbell has taught upper-level and graduate courses in British and European history for over thirty years, including a seminar on the Beatles since 2010. He received his doctorate in British and European History from the University of Delaware.
Entrepreneur, Chaos Engineer
Engineering for Chaos: Preparing for Disaster
Society is becoming increasingly dependent on technology. What happens when those systems fail? Chaos Engineering is a new software discipline dedicated to answering this question and preventing that failure from occurring. Chaos Engineering is how some of the leading companies in the world build resilient systems and reliable software. Today, where nearly every business is an online business; where more and more critical services are coming online each day, we need a way to better understand how these systems behave under stress.
Kolton is co-founder and CEO of Gremlin, a Chaos Engineering firm. Previously he was a Chaos Engineer at Netflix, improving streaming reliability. He designed and built F.I.T., Netflix's failure injection service. Prior to that, he improved the performance and reliability of the Amazon Retail website. At both companies, he has served as a 'Call Leader,' managing the resolution of company-wide incidents.
Global Strategist, Human Rights Activist and Advocate, former Federal Prosecutor
Complicated Chaos - Chains of the Unseen
More people are enslaved now than at any other time in human history. Criminal profits are conservatively estimated to be $150 billion dollars per year, making it the second most lucrative crime world-wide.
Our consumption patterns are directly linked to the ubiquity of modern slavery in the world. Slavery exists in the supply chains from the electronics we use, the garments we wear, the coffee we drink, and the chocolate and seafood we eat. Technological resources could enable an increase in transparency and accountability of global supply chains.
Krishna is an active strategist on initiatives to combat contemporary slavery on global, national and local level. She served as a federal prosecutor for 16 years, and currently serves as the Justice Initiative Director at Grace Farms Foundation. She is also President of Unchain.org, which aims to raise public awareness and advocacy to support transparency in global supply chains.
Heartfelt, melancholy and exuberant experiences contribute to the all-around uniqueness of New Jersey Shore-based indie/alternative singer/songwriter Matt Cook, who in August of 2010 entered a life-threatening diabetic coma at only 25 years old.
The events inspired his 2013 record Live, Laugh, Love! After organizing a charitable campaign on PledgeMusic and generating support via News12NJ’s Spotlight program, he donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to the Type 1 Diabetes foundation JDRF, so Cook took his experience and used his music to help others. “It’s a miracle and a gift from God that I’m still alive and I wanted Live, Laugh, Love! to represent that very personal message.”
Members of Matt Cook’s Band are: Pete Stern (drums), William Blakey (bass), and Bryan Hansen (guitar)
National Correspondent for The Washington Post
How Subjective Media Replaced Institutions
Misinformation isn't a result of social media. Social media is the accelerant that created chaos in the wake of a collapse in institutional confidence.
In part, this is a function of the decline in authority. At one time, people’s understanding of the world was more carefully bounded by news outlets and political leaders. The collapse in trust in those institutions coupled with a social media sphere where you can always find someone who agrees with you has led to the growth of misinformation broadly – but, more problematically, an actual marketplace for falsehoods in the media and in politics.
President Trump is the highest-profile spreader of misinformation, but he didn’t create the problem; he embraced and stoked misinformation and misinformation systems that already existed
Philip is a national correspondent for The Washington Post focused on the numbers behind politics. Prior to The Post, he covered politics for the Atlantic Wire.
A Street Dance Company
The Redef Movement is a professional street dance company based in New Jersey under the direction of John Barrella. This company has promoted hip hop, breakdance, popping, locking, & comedy through performance and education across the tri-state area for over a decade. Their work aims to create unique experiences for their audience while maintaining authenticity within their art form. The Redef Dancers include: John Barrella, Kassie Ruboyianes, Carly Ashnault, Karly Bais, Sarah Warren, Kelly Khadam-Hir, Megan Loftus, Ally Ferry, Sebastian Yepes, Mallory Friedman, and Quinn Sousa
Actress and Playwright Regina Taylor introduces the characters from her play OO-BLA-DEE produced by the Two River Theater in June 2019.
A play-with-music, OO-BLA-DEE paints a shimmering portrait of an all-female band of African-American bebop musicians traveling the country following the end of World War II.
Ms. Taylor has won several awards throughout her career, including a Golden Globe Award and the NAACP Image Award. In July 2017, Taylor was announced as the new Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre at Fordham University's theater program.
Collective of more than 60 women who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices.
Launched in 2017 in response to the Trump presidency, the Resistance Revival Chorus is a collective of more than 60 women who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices. The women range from Broadway performers, touring musicians, film and television actresses, solo recording artists, gospel singers, political activists and are led by Broadway singer and educator Abena Koomson-Davis. Representing a multitude of identities, professions, creative backgrounds, and activist causes, the Resistance Revival Chorus prides itself on its diversity and believes that art and culture are essential to changing hearts, minds, and history. The RRC is committed to the principle that joy is in itself an act of resistance.
The Chorus for TEDxAsburyPark 2019 consisted of
Ann Marie Black, Ginny Suss, Andie Neff, Arin Maya, Munira Ahmed, Tinia Merriweather, Zakiyah Ansari, Sally Rumble, Abena Malika, and
Anna P. Brown
Teacher, Physicist, Change Agent
Chaos to Cosmos
It’s natural for chaos to precede the accomplishment of a goal that is grandiose enough to demand the elevation of the human race to its next level. Our cosmic history shows that unprecedented results emerge from extraordinary determination to push through chaos. The history we need to learn is 14 billion years old and encompasses an unmitigated series of momentous success stories – atoms, galaxies, stars, planets, life, and self-awareness. Each of our universe’s successes came after initial periods of chaos and struggle. Now the road from chaos to success depends not just on nature, but also on human intentions. Is our species mature enough to channel its intentions responsibly?
Sarbmeet teaches Astronomy and Modern Physics at Brookdale Community College, where he was named an Outstanding Instructor in 2016. He has a PhD from Caltech in Theoretical Particle Physics, and began teaching after a career in research and engineering at Bell Labs.
Leadership Trainer, Author, Mentor, Domestic Violence Activist, Founder Making Cancer Fun
Choosing Fun in the Chaos of Cancer
In the chaos of childhood cancer, laughing, while seemingly offensive, is actually an appropriate choice--and science proves it. Tara challenges the cancer conversation and embraces laughter, fun, play, and giggles on a big scale to change the cancer experience for children and their families.
Tara has over 21 years in leadership development, holds a degree in theater, and has a background in improvisation. She drew upon those three unlikely skill sets in 2009 when her 3 year-old daughter was diagnosed with high-risk stage 4 neuroblastoma. She chose to face cancer with fun and to support her daughter in a non-traditional way. Now she shares those powerful tools, tips, and secrets to help parents navigate the scary world of childhood cancer. Tara's the author of Making Cancer Fun, I’m a Miracle Kid, From Living to Being, The Rock Star Calendar and creator of The Grateful Connection Course. She lives in NJ with her miracle kid Emily Grace.