x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
May 21, 2010
1:00am - 1:00am EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
United States

About TEDx Lansing

Like its sister cities Detroit and Flint, Lansing has in many ways been a victim of the downsizing of the American auto industry. A city that once buzzed with sound of cars rolling off assembly lines has seen its factories go dormant and ultimately watched most of them razed to the ground.

But that's not the end of the story.

The Greater Lansing area is buzzing once again. Home to Michigan's state capitol and one of the nation's largest research universities, Greater Lansing is striving to reinvent itself and in doing so, has become an innovation hub. Fueled by a drive toward progress, local entrepreneurs are taking advantage of a growing array of business incubators, a vibrant social media culture and a fervent "local first" attitude to go from start-up to success.

Michigan State University is home to the best graduate program in physics, due in large part to its recent selection as the home of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), as well as it's affiliation with the Large Hadron Collider. MSU also boasts highly respected schools of education, journalism, veterinary medicine and medicine, which houses one of the nation's best colleges of osteopathic medicine.

Following the successes of three IgniteLansing events and TEDx events in Detroit and Ann Arbor, TEDxLansing will highlight the best of what Lansing and Michigan have to offer through talks given by captivating speakers from both the Lansing area and the state. The event will also include TEDTalks videos and musical performances designed to spark deep conversations among attendees and connections in the community.

United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Chip Brock

Raymond "Chip" Brock is an elementary particle physicist. He trained as an electrical engineer and briefly worked in the engineering industry. Since obtaining graduate degrees in experimental and theoretical physics from Carnegie-Mellon University, Brock has spent the last 30 years exploring the “inside of the universe” as a professor of physics at Michigan State University. His research takes place at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois and the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and frequently gives guest lectures about scientific results and the future of particle physics. Brock was the chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1994 to 2001. He is an American Physical Society fellow and author and/or co-author of more than 200 scientific publications. He is the recipient of numerous Michigan State University research and teaching awards and has served in numerous national advisory roles. He currently serves as the elected chair of the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields. Brock researches electroweak particle physics, which entails performing experiments studying light and heavy particles. After years of preparation Brock and his MSU colleagues have launched the most ambitious physics project of all: The gargantuan ATLAS experiment at CERN. Brock is a baseball fanatic and has coached high school baseball for many years in East Lansing. A genetic deficiency fuels his expectation that the Chicago Cubs are only a season away from the World Series.

Karl Gude

Karl Gude has been visualizing information for news organizations since the late 70s and is one of the few visual journalists who has worked for newspapers, news magazines and wire services. Until recently he was the director of information graphics for Newsweek, a position he held for more than 10 years. He has also worked for the Associated Press, United Press International, the New York Daily News and the short-lived National Sports Daily. Gude has visually covered seven presidential elections, a slew of wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, sports, business and countless medical and scientific discoveries. He led a Newsweek team of graphics reporters during the attack on the World Trade Center and later mapped the progress of U.S. soldiers as they headed toward Baghdad. He has charted the ups and downs of the U.S. economy and used statistics to illustrate how Enron executives lied to stockholders. Gude teaches information visualization for Michigan State University's (MSU) School of Journalism and is a consultant for news and government organizations. A collection of Karl's infographics, personal drawings, paintings and even children's books can be found on Flickr.

Justin Sailor

Justin "Bugsy" Sailor, a native of the Upper Peninsula and MSU alum, has always thrived on setting out on his own, achieving one idea after the next. After graduating from MSU with advertising and sociology degrees he decided to combine the two of them together along with his passions for photography, blogging, and travel. He set out on a year-long 50-state tour, the Hometown Invasion Tour, where he stayed in over 100 households with people he had never met. Sailor returned to Michigan one year later to the day, returning with over 400 bog entires and 12,000 photos documentary his adventures. Since finishing his tour he has created various other projects from scratch including Yooper Steez and Beer With Branson. Yooper Steez is an Upper Peninsula blog that has made an effort of connecting other Yoopers across the world. A Yooper himself, Sailor considers himself to be an Upper Peninsula Ambassador where he can teach others about the Upper Peninsula. Sailor is also known for his social media knowledge, especially with the launch of Beer With Branson. On Jan. 1, 2010 he launched and his new year's resolution of having a beer with Richard Branson. Month by month he is getting closer to his goal where he hopes to debunk the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and rewrite them as the "Four Degrees of Richard Branson."

Sam Singh

Sam Singh is a 38-year-old professional and former politician who decided to pull the trigger on a life long dream and explore the world. His website and blog document a journey of exploration, reflection and service. His personally funded sabbatical allowed him to explore his love of travel, intrigue with other cultures and opportunities to volunteer with international nonprofits. Singh traveled to more than 25 countries on all seven continents. Whether hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Serengeti, celebrating Bastille Day or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Singh knew he was in the middle of a life changing experience and it's one he wants to share with the world.

Rory Neuner

By focusing on building more livable, walkable communities, we can reshape this region and encourage healthier, happier, safer, more sustainable and more affordable lifestyles. Rory Neuner is heavily engaged in this work and sees the potential in everything — even an unsophisticated piece of sidewalk — a plain, yet integral component to improving so many of the region's problems including obesity and poor social connectivity. Neuner works for a national organization that is trying to change a culture of inactivity and childhood obesity by getting more children to walk and ride their bikes to school. She is creating networks with leaders in more than 20 states to find solutions to these issues. For more information, visit the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. In Lansing, Neuner is an active member of the Walk and Bike Lansing initiative, the group behind the passage of the City of Lansing complete streets ordinance (the first of its kind in Michigan). She was also one of the individuals responsible for getting Lansing on the League of American Bicyclists' list of Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community Winners . She is also a League of Michigan Bicyclists board member and co-founder of the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition, a group of more than 60 Michigan organizations working to pass a statewide complete streets law that would improve the design and engineering of Michigan streets and roadways.

Erik Qualman

Erik Qualman is the author of "Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way we Live and Do Business." Socialnomics made Amazon's No. 1 best sellers list in the U.S. & UK after three weeks of publication and is consistently on the top 100 best selling business books list. Qualman is a frequently requested international speaker for the Fortune 500 and has been highlighted in numerous media outlets including: BusinessWeek, the New York Times, CNET, the San Francisco Chronicle, Mashable, USA Today, Forbes, CBS Nightly News and The Huffington Post. He has been fortunate to share the stage with Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, Lee Scott, CEO and chairman Walmart, Jose Socrates, prime minister of Portugal, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia, Actress Julie Andrews, former Vice President Al Gore and former Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin. His video, "Social Media Revolution," is one of 2010's most viral YouTube videos. Qualman is an MBA professor at the Hult International Business School. For the past 16 years Qualman has helped grow the online marketing and eBusiness capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo and AT&T. He is a columnist for ClickZ, while also owning the social media blog Qualman has a BA from Michigan State University (MSU) and an MBA from the University of Texas. He is currently the global vice president of Digital Marketing at EF Education. He was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at MSU and still finds time to follow his beloved Spartans while living in Boston with his wife.

John Hill

Building relationships and connecting people with opportunity are at John Hill's core. As the director of alumni career services at Michigan State University (MSU), Hill relies heavily on online networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to work with MSU's 420,000 alumni. Hill conducts speaking engagements on a regular basis in Michigan and across the country on career development topics ranging from "How To Take Your Online Connections Offline For Career Success" to "Developing Your Career Search Strategy" to "Building Campus Relationships". He also work with private sector, public sector and academic entities to identify how Web 2.0 can help organizations aggregate an audience, communicate and build business. Hill actively helps Michigan retain talented college graduates and re-recruits alumni who have left the state to new economy jobs.

Allie Merrick

If you had something to say, could you say it? If you had an idea, could you convey it? Many can talk. Few can speak. There is a difference. It is this difference that Allie Merrick defines when she takes the stage and grabs the mic. Speaking truly is an art. To ensure it does not become a lost art, Merrick works to cultivate the passion for speaking in others. Spoken words and sung sonnets are spun together in original works as Merrick reveals the value of voice. Merrick, a performance poet, has been writing and reciting for more than 10 years. Giving words texture and depth, she uses her voice to engage and enlighten. In this presentation, themes such as technology and design are introduced as elements of speaking, while Merrick demonstrates how engagement must proceed enlightenment.

Patrick Retzer

As a entrepreneur, flight instructor, homeowner and full time Western Michigan University (WMU) student, Patrick Retzer is always staying busy. After earning his private pilot license at Lansing Community College (LCC), he continues his aviation training at a number of various schools and has advanced certifications as an instrument, commercial single and multi engine pilot, flight instructor and advanced ground instructor. When not in the air, Retzer works towards a degree in engineering management with minors in finance and integrated supply matrix management. Retzer’s interest in aviation stems from his first flights with his father — who is a career pilot — when he was two months old. Through interaction with his father and colleagues he has been able to gain a wealth of valuable insight into the inner workings of the aviation industry. If Retzer learned the foundations of aviation from his father then he has his mother to thank for his love of teaching. Her years teaching literacy for the Lansing public schools provided him not only with a solid understanding of the fundamentals of instruction, but a passion for improving the quality of education he provides. Outside of school Retzer has successfully established himself as a flight instructor in both Charlotte, Mich. and Lansing, Mich. In order to further develop his availability as a ground instructor he founded a training school, Capital Aviation, with Aric Newstad and Steve Blocher at the Port of Lansing Airport. In addition to this Retzer hopes to develop flight training services at the Charlotte Airport with his company Great Lakes Air Ventures. Retzer’s passion for aviation is evident and only matched by his keen interest in engineering. Retzer is also passionate about music and is a bass guitarist and booking agent. Retzer's band, Batteries Not Included, plays in the area at local clubs and events.

Bob Fish

Robert (Bob) Fish, better known to many coffee aficionados as “Biggby Bob,” is the CEO and co-founder of Biggby Coffee, a Lansing, Mich.-based chain of more than 115 cafes located in five states. Fish came to East Lansing, Mich. in 1981 to attend Michigan State University (MSU) and never left. He paid his own way through college by working a series of restaurant jobs, starting as a dishwasher at an area Big Boy Restaurant. In 1989, Bob earned his degree from MSU’s School of Hospitality Business. in 1991, Fish and his partner, Mary Roszel, opened their own restaurant — a Flap Jack Shack. After two successful years in the breakfast business, the two decided it was time for a change. They sold their restaurant and traveled the country developing the business plan for what would become Biggby Coffee (formerly known as Beaner’s). In March 1995 Biggby Coffee served its first Caramel Marvel in its original location on Grand River in East Lansing and Bob has never looked back. The first Biggby Coffee franchise was sold in 1999 and the company has virtually doubled in size every two years since then. Among his partners, Roszel, Mike McFall and Sandy Green, Fish is Biggby's most public face, spending many of his days on the road visiting operators and talking to customers. When he’s not at a Biggby Coffee shop, you can find him talking about Biggby Coffee on Facebook and Twitter or in his blog “Where’s Bob” at This year Fish was honored to serve as the past chairman of board of the Michigan Restaurant Association. He is also a member of the board for the Small Business Association of Michigan and JA of Mid-Michigan. An enthusiastic runner, Bob is often dashing through the streets and parks of the Lansing, Mich. area with his wife, Michelle, chasing after their son and two dogs.

Dirk Schweitzer

Dirk Schweitzer is a German native and a chemist by training. He is working on establishing a green economy by replacing oil-based products with sugar-based products. In his presentation, he will introduce his hobby — the application of private DNA testing to learn about a person’s health, ethnicity, direct male/female ancestry, and to identify close relatives.

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson revels in all dimensions of the world's fairs and is especially intrigued by the combination of optimism and promise they offer and the unflattering mirror of society they reflect. Wilson’s presentation explores 150 years of the sins and virtues of the world’s great expositions. When not immersed in the world's fairs, Wilson is the associate director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction at Michigan State University (MSU) and has an academic background in economics and geography. His three primary interests include the planning and politics of mega events such as the world's fairs and the Olympics; information technology, cyber geography and the relationship between technology, people and places; and the role of non profit organizations in community development. Wilson is committed to international education and has developed or participated in study abroad programs in England, South Korea, Antarctica, China, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. He has also participated in US Pavilion programs at the world's fairs in 1993, 1998 and 2005. Wilson serves as chair of the International Geographical Union's Commission on Global Information Society. Please visit his homepage at

Betsy Miner-Swartz

Betsy Miner-Swartz is a communications specialist with Gift of Life Michigan, Michigan’s only designated organ and tissue recovery organization. Miner-Swartz promotes statewide organ, eye and tissue donation and is working to grow the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. Before joining Gift of Life, Miner-Swartz spent 19 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, earning state and national awards for her work at the Times Herald in Port Huron and the Lansing State Journal. After losing her father to pancreatic cancer in 2006 and her mother to ovarian cancer last June, Miner-Swartz has become intensely aware that each day is a gift. She loves to work hard, play hard and balance every bit of it along the way. She’s extremely proud, motivated and grateful to work in a field that literally helps save lives every single day. Miner-Swartz is a bleeding-green Michigan State University (MSU) Women’s Basketball fan, loves Lansing, spending time at her northern Michigan log cabin on Sage Lake and is frantically working to prepare her 1926 Dutch Colonial house for the popular Westside Home Tour. She shares it all with her partner of seven years, Robin Miner-Swartz.

David Murray

David Murray is the director of Social Web Communications for re:group and enjoys helping businesses value the digital landscape and showing job seekers how to use social media to find new careers. After a 10-year absence, Murray returned to Michigan in 2008 and immediately went to work organizing Detroit’s Social Media Club chapter. As member of iDetroit, he has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal online, was selected to be member of the Detroit Chevy 2010 South by Southwest Team and has been featured in David Meerman Scott’s blog Web Ink Now and his book, “The New rules of Marketing and PR.” He is a strategic partner and digital marketing consultant for various social web organizations and projects and is the co-chair of FutureMidwest. Living according to the mantra “leave no regrets,” Murray lives in Troy, Mich. with his wife Jenni and their two cats, Motley and Bree. David can be easily found on twitter and his thoughts about life, Michigan and the social web can be found on his blog.

Matt Dugener

Matt Dugener is a founding member and CEO of Orient, an executive services firm that provides leadership to for profit and nonprofit clients in the areas of high growth management, turnaround and refreshment. Dugener's current executive engagement is COO of Enliven Software, a growing software company. He has a solid track record of starting successful enterprises in both the private and nonprofit sectors. After starting a nonprofit technology-based economic development organization — West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative – in Grand Rapids, Dugener launched two biotechnology companies. Grand River APP is an aseptic pharmaceutical vial filing company and ClinXus is a clinical research organization that performs business development services for clinical trials at several Michigan hospitals. Dugener served as the founding board chairman and interim CEO of both companies and was also the founding president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). In addition to his current role at Enliven Software, Dugener is also the founding president of the "If" Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on reinventing imagination in American society. Dugener has a wonderful wife and three amazing children. He coaches youth sports and enjoys the outdoors, good friends, physics and philosophy.

Bryan Ritchie

Bryan K. Ritchie is a professor of international relations and political economy at Michigan State University’s (MSU) James Madison College. His research and teaching focus on the political economy of innovation, entrepreneurship, technological development, skills education and training and social capital. He has received numerous teaching and research awards and has been published in several academic journals, newspapers, blogs and websites. He is the author of “Systemic Vulnerability and Sustainable Economic Growth: Skills and Upgrading in Southeast Asia,” and “Relationship Economics: The Social Capital Paradigm and its Applications” (with Lindon Robison). Ritchie is an entrepreneur. Prior to his academic career he started and managed multiple companies in the computer industry. He has also held management and consulting positions in firms such as Novell, Iomega, 3Com, USRobotics and Megahertz. Ritchie is an associate director for MSU’s BioEconomy Network and co-directs the Michigan Center for Innovation and Economic Prosperity. Ritchie received his Ph.D. from Emory University and his MBA from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management.

Ross Emmett

Ross B. Emmett is a professor in James Madison College at Michigan State University (MSU) and co-director of the college’s Michigan Center for Innovation & Economic Prosperity. His teaching deals with the central question of comparative economic governance: what is the relationship between basic economic institutions and their legal, cultural and political contexts? His research concerns both the history of how modern societies have answered that question and how today’s answers affect liberty, innovation and entrepreneurship. Emmett is the lead editor of Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology, a research annual published in three volumes a year by Emerald. In 2009 he published “Frank Knight and the Chicago School in the History of American Economics.” He has edited five collections of material about the history of economics, including the “Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics” (forthcoming in 2010) and “Great Bubbles,” an interdisciplinary examination of the financial crises of the 17th and 18th centuries. Downloaded articles from his research on the Social Science Research Network ( place him among the top 10 percent of authors on that network. Apart from his current project – The Constitution of Innovation — Emmett is also working on a fictionalized account of the historical relationship between John Law and Richard Cantillon during the European financial crisis of the early 1700s and an intellectual biography of Frank Knight. Emmett is a U.S. and Canadian citizen and often uses Canadian comparisons when discussing political economy issues. He lived in western Canada for more than 20 years before starting his career at MSU.

Organizing team


Lansing, MI, United States
  • Robin Miner-Swartz
  • Payal Ravani
    Speaker Coordinator
  • Kate Tykocki
    Stage Manager / Volunteer Coordinator
  • Ben Slayter
  • Erin Slayter
  • Nick Kwiatkowski
  • Tom Crawford
    Speaker Coach
  • Ryan Knott
    Host / Emcee