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  • Kristin Luciani

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  • Kristin Luciani

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UC San Diego Undergraduates Organize First TEDxUCSD

May 11 event to feature 18 speakers who are trailblazers in their field

In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading,” a team of UC San Diego undergraduate students has organized the first TEDxUCSD. Slated for Saturday, May 11 at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall in San Diego, the event brings together 18 prominent thinkers and doers from across disciplines—about half of whom are associated with UC San Diego—to engage and inspire the campus and local community. The theme, “Innovation and Tradition,” was chosen to spark discussion about change and the balance between old and new.

Win Tickets to TEDxUCSD and Dinner with the Speakers

Still need tickets to TEDxUCSD? Want a chance to meet the featured speakers? Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla is giving away 10 passes to the event, which include preferred seating and dinner with the speakers at the post-conference mixer.

UC San Diego students, staff, faculty and alumni can enter the drawing starting today. The contest ends May 7 and the 10 winning names will be announced in the May 9 issue of ThisWeek@UCSanDiego. Student tickets are already sold out and general admission tickets are going fast—don’t miss this opportunity!

Increase your chances of winning by sharing with your friends. For each successful entry that you refer, you will automatically be awarded an additional entry. Use your personal referral link provided on your contest entry confirmation.

Click here to enter the contest!

“I’m pleased that our students have taken the initiative to organize this conference,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “TEDxUCSD is a great opportunity to showcase talented individuals at UC San Diego and in the local community, and the work they are doing to positively impact our society.”

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events designed to emulate the experience of TED, a U.S.-based nonprofit that organizes two conferences each year with presentations by thought leaders from around the world. The talks, which are limited to 18 minutes or less, are then posted online. TED speakers have included Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. TEDx (“x” meaning independently organized) provides similar experiences within local communities.

UC San Diego business and psychology student Jody Mak is the founder and co-director of TEDxUCSD. Having attended several TEDx events on his own, Mak wanted to bring the program to UC San Diego to celebrate campus impacts, build community and highlight social innovators from a variety of fields.

“The point of creating TEDxUCSD is to stimulate conversation,” Mak said. “It’s not just about the speakers; it’s also about the audiences. It’s about the conversations that happen afterward and the connections that students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members make during the conference.”

A team of more than a dozen undergraduates who share Mak’s enthusiasm for TED and passion for social change set out to organize the first TEDxUCSD, which they hope will become an annual event. The conference features 18 speakers selected from a pool of approximately 300 nominations, 11 of whom are affiliated with UC San Diego. The speakers are:

TEDx Organizers

  • Jamie Alexandre, cognitive science Ph.D. student, UC San Diego
  • Adah Almutairi, director of the Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine, UC San Diego
  • Roger Bingham, faculty member at the Center for Brain and Cognition, UC San Diego
  • Todd Coleman, director of the Neural Interaction Laboratory, UC San Diego
  • Kathryn Furby, Ph.D. student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
  • Pablos Holman, futurist and inventor with Intellectual Ventures Laboratory
  • Guy Kawasaki, author and enchanter
  • Tim Lee, science comedian and UC San Diego alumnus
  • Seth Lerer, dean of Arts and Humanities, UC San Diego
  • Albert Lin, National Geographic Explorer, UC San Diego researcher and alumnus
  • Stephen Mayfield, director of San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, UC San Diego faculty member
  • Michael Meyer, partner at Essential and lecturer at Rady School of Management, UC San Diego
  • Catherine Mohr, director of medical research at Intuitive Surgical
  • Inanc Ortac, electrical engineering Ph.D. student, UC San Diego
  • Camille Saltman, president of MD Revolution
  • Peter Samuelson, founder of Starlight Children’s Foundation and Everyone Deserves a Roof
  • Cris Valerio, Innovator in residence at
  • Victor Wilson, Co-founder of ETA4

In addition to showcasing local leaders, TEDxUCSD is intended to facilitate interactions between members of the campus community and empower individuals to make a difference in their own lives and in their community.

“Our goal for this conference is to share lessons about change to inspire change—good change,” Mak said.

TEDxUCSD will take place Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall. General admission tickets are still available for $60. For more information and to register, visit or email

The conference is made possible thanks to support from UC San Diego, including UCSD Alumni, Chancellor’s Associates, the Chancellor’s Office, the Jacobs School of Engineering Moxie Center, Office of Research Affairs, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Library and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. To learn more about supporting TEDxUCSD, email

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