University of Montana Western
x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
March 23, 2024
Dillon, Montana
United States

TEDx University of Montana Western provides a multidisciplinary forum for academic minds to gather and exchange ideas worth sharing. Speakers selected to present at TEDx University of Montana Western are directly connected to the local community or have topics that support Montana Western’s mission and values. TEDx University of Montana Western showcases the diversity and academic fortitude of our institution while providing a venue for speakers to submit their research to a global network.

University of Montana Western
710 S. Atlantic St.
Beier Auditorium
Dillon, Montana, 59725
United States
Event type:
University (What is this?)
See more ­T­E­Dx­University of ­Montana ­Western events


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

Aleisha Shirley PT, DPT

Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance
Dr. Aleisha Shirley is a Physical Therapist, college professor, horseback riding biomechanics researcher, and lifetime horseback rider. She works at the University of Montana Western where she teaches in the Health and Human Performance department. Dr. Shirley developed a clinical interest in strengthening for horseback riders after breaking her back in a horse accident. After rehabilitating herself she returned to competing at a high level and continues to compete to this day. Her work and online courses are focused on helping riders improve their riding confidence, balance, and stability.

Amber Jordan, MS

COO Desert Sage Health Centers, Leadership Coach
Amber Jordan believes her role as a healthcare leader is to “take care of the people who take care of the people.” She is a Community Health Center executive and a coach for rising healthcare leaders. Jordan grew up in rural Alaska, then traveled the world as an internationally competitive athlete after college. She became a healthcare leader after her athletic retirement. Amber now uses lessons learned from elite sports and her own health challenges to help managers become leaders, and to build healthy workplace cultures where people can do their best work every day.

Callie Triller, MEd

Co-Founder of The Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County
Callie Triller is a co-founder of The Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County. She is deeply passionate about building community and connections between families to make sure that all families have what they need to thrive. Trained as a school counselor, Triller still draws on many of her skills for problem-solving and systems change work. Triller and her family are actively involved in their local Presbyterian church, where her husband serves as the Pastor. Triller can often be found with a cup of coffee in her hand as she tries to keep up with her two young sons.

Dev Seacrest, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Dev Seacrest (he/him) is a transmasculine professor at the University of Montana Western. He strives to share the joy of mathematics with those who grew up believing that a good mathematician is someone who completes 100 multiplication problems in the allotted time. After earning his bachelor’s in math from Harvey Mudd College and his master’s in math and Ph.D. in math education from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he began focusing on reaching students who have struggled in previous math classes. He encourages his students and his children to ask creative questions and to explore the world, mathematically and otherwise.

Diana Pallin, MD

Medical Director and President of New Start Medical
Dr. Diana Pallin is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine and has been practicing Obesity medicine since 2013. She is a member of the Obesity Medicine Association and founder of New Start Medical, a metabolic practice that offers comprehensive weight management programs She is passionate about offering her patients the tools needed to be successful in their weight management journey in a medically supervised setting. Management of cardio-metabolic conditions is an important part of her practice. Becoming an obesity medicine specialist allowed her to help patients improve their health and quality of life, lose weight safely and prevent developing chronic, metabolic conditions.

Erik Guzik, Ph.D.

Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship
Dr. Erik Guzik is the Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Montana. His research centers on entrepreneurship, the economic microfoundations of creativity, and conditions supporting regional and national innovation. For his research into the impact of creative problem solving on student skill development, Guzik received the Creative Oklahoma Great Inspirations Award, the Oklahoma Journal Record’s Creativity Award, and Hewlett Packard’s Catalyst Award. His latest research into the creative abilities of Generative Artificial Intelligence has been featured on CNBC, Fortune, Der Spiegel, and hundreds of additional media outlets around the world. Guzik is the founder of VAST: Next Generation Learning, PatientOne, and the non-profit Virtual Problem Solving Program.

Jarred Kvamme, MS

Ph.D. Candidate (University of Idaho)
Jarred Kvamme is a University of Montana Western alumnus, having earned bachelor’s degrees in Integrative Biology and Mathematics in 2018 and 2019. Kvamme furthered his education at the University of Idaho, obtaining a Master’s in Statistical Science. Currently, Kvamme is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Audrey Fu’s lab at the University of Idaho where his research focuses on the study of gene regulation through causal network inference and deep learning.

Katy Wright, MEd

National Board Certified Teacher
Katy Wright is a National Board Certified Teacher and has a Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University. Wright is a founding member of Improv Mining Company, co-produces an annual education-themed sketch comedy show, and is proud to have worked with Grandstreet Theatre, Helena Symphony, Helena Theatre Company, and Raven’s Feather over the years. Wright hopes to earn her doctorate in Educational Leadership and work in national public education policy in the near future. She thanks her husband, Scott, and all of their 6 kids.

Kyra Wood, OTD

Occupational Therapist
Dr. Kyra Wood recently graduated from Rocky Mountain College with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. She was raised in Dillon, MT as a Beaver and soon became a Bulldog. After Western, she went to Idaho State University to finish a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. She then began her graduate career in Occupational Therapy. Wood’s time at Rocky helped her develop her passion for working with veterans and military service members through occupational therapy and research. Her favorite occupations are dirt biking and spending time with family.

Marybeth Wilson PT, DPT

Board-Certified Orthopedic Specialist
Dr. Marybeth Wilson graduated from the University of Missouri in 2011 with her clinical doctorate of physical therapy and has been working in patient care since that time. In 2015 she became a board-certified orthopedic specialist and in 2018 she completed a graduate certificate in chronic pain studies from McGill University. She currently lives and works in Dillon, Montana where she treats patients across the lifespan including those living with acute and chronic pain.

Melissa Winger, MMFT

Co-Founder of The Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County
Melissa Winger is a co-founder of The Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County. Trained as a Marriage and Family Therapist, she has dedicated her career to nurturing secure connections within families. Winger’s work focuses on healing intergenerational patterns of trauma and disconnection, providing families with the tools to foster healthy, loving relationships. Her journey is deeply rooted in her own experiences as a mother, as she balances the responsibilities of raising her three children, all under the age of five, with her professional pursuits.

Nathan Boll, MS, MA

NASA Space Policy Analyst
Nathan J. Boll is a Space Policy Analyst at NASA Headquarters, where he supports the Science Mission Directorate and the NAC Science Committee. He previously served as a Senior Space Policy Consultant to NOAA at the Aerospace Corporation. Prior to his Federal service, Boll was a Program Executive for AIAA and an Associate Program Officer for the National Academy of Sciences. He earned his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Montana Western, his M.S. in Space Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, and his M.A. in International Policy from George Washington University.

Nathaniel Freeman, MFA

CEE Director/Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, NTT
Nathaniel H. Freeman is an artist, designer, and educator based out of Dillon, MT. His art and design work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, NPR, I.D. Magazine, and Matter Magazine, among others. He is presently the Director of the Center for Experiential Education at the University of Montana Western.

Rob Thomas, Ph.D.

Regents Professor of Geology
Dr. Rob Thomas is a Regents Professor of Geology at the University of Montana Western. He is a Carnegie/CASE U.S. Professor (2009), Montana Educator of the Year (2013), Montana Regents Teaching Scholar (2019), and Fellow of the Geological Society of America, “an honor bestowed upon the best of the profession.” He authored or co-authored over 75 professional publications, including the books, Roadside Geology of Yellowstone Country, and Roadside Geology of Montana, which received the High Plains Book Award in 2021. His personal passions include family, teaching Sherpa mountain guides in Nepal, and playing guitar around a campfire.

Sophia Etier, MA

Public Historian
Sophia Etier is a Public Historian, graduating from the University of Montana (’20) as well as Southern New Hampshire University (’23), with a focus area in local Montana History as well as the American West. Etier specializes in research focusing on Western red light districts and the development of minority communities in the Western Montana region. In September 2023, Sophia presented her research “Forgotten Souls: The Lost Voices of Western Montana’s Restricted Districts” at the Montana History Conference. She also is a lead guide for the Unseen Missoula heritage tour program, curating and managing the ‘Carnal Enterprises’ restricted district tour.

Spruce Shoenemann, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Sciences
Dr. Spruce Schoenemann is a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Montana Western. With his background in geochemistry and climate science research, he seeks to understand the past climate to provide context for the climate changes of today and the future. He does this by utilizing environmental archives of climate like ice cores, lake sediments, glacier deposits, and tree rings. Schoenemann has a strong personal interest in boldly addressing the climate crisis through education and outreach, resource management, renewable energy, and sustainability. He is passionate about protecting our winters and wilderness and securing a livable climate for future generations.

Yasmin Arlette Acosta-Myers, MS

Consultant for Diversity and Intercultural Advancement
Yasmin Arlette Acosta-Myers, rooted in Tecate, Mexico, and Dillon, Montana, blends her diverse cultural background. Navigating the Mexico-U.S. border, her Mexican heritage intertwines with American influences. Acosta-Myers’s commitment to global education springs from family dynamics, global travels, and rural Montana life. Holding a Master’s in Arts Administration and a Graduate Certificate in International Education, she actively advocates for workplace equity and global competence. With a versatile career in non-profit and for-profit sectors, Acosta-Myers excels in education, cultural administration, program management, and the arts. She is dedicated to fostering diverse and inclusive environments and is passionate about impactful education.

Organizing team


Dillon, MT, United States