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S P E A K E R  L I N E U P

TEDxPenn 2024 Conference


Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He received his graduate degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Weissman, in collaboration with Dr. Katalin Karikó, discovered the ability of modified nucleosides in RNA to suppress activation of innate immune sensors and increase the translation of mRNA containing certain modified nucleosides. The nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platform Dr. Weissman’s lab created is used in the first 2 approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They continue to develop other vaccines that induce potent antibody and T cell responses with mRNA–based vaccines. Dr. Weissman’s lab also develops methods to replace genetically deficient proteins, edit the genome, and specifically target cells and organs with mRNA-LNPs, including lung, heart, brain, CD4+ cells, all T cells, and bone marrow stem cells.


Tex Kang is the Program Coordinator of Technology and Play at the University of Pennsylvania which allows him to integrate innovative digital fabrication into creative projects for exploring people's passions. He manages the Education Commons Library that provides accessibility to critical making through programs that range from making stress balls of 3D scans of student's brains to using AI generated images to make unique graphic t-shirts to express individuality. His hobbies include woodworking to make weird charcuterie boards, fire spinning and breathing, and constantly learning new things to hack and explore new processes.


Justina Miles is a Deaf performer, who went viral during her performance at Super Bowl LVII. She is the first person to perform the ASL rendition of The Black National Anthem at the Super Bowl and the first Deaf woman to perform ASL for the Halftime Show. Justina has shared her story across prominent media outlets such as ELLE, CBS This Morning, The View, and British Vogue, where she graced the May 2023 cover. She has performed at numerous musical and cultural events, such as CNN's Juneteenth Concert, Broccoli City Fest, Dreamville Festival and more. Justina was also a Deaflympics track athlete, representing Team USA and taking home a silver medal at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics. Justina’s mission is to show the world more authentic representations of Deaf people, and her long-term goal is to open her own nursing practice at Gallaudet University, a specialist school for the Deaf and hard of hearing, so that there can be more Deaf nurses.


Bojan, a member of NVIDIA since 2012, has played a significant role in shaping the landscape of cloud architecture. Originating as one of the architects behind the success of GeForce NOW, the preeminent game streaming service boasting a user base exceeding 30 million globally, he has been a driving force in the evolution of key initiatives like the NVIDIA GPU Cloud (NGC). Currently spearheading NVIDIA Cloud Functions, a state-of-the-art serverless platform that converts deep learning models and CUDA code into secure cloud services, Bojan's prior leadership experience at HP overseeing the largest private cloud for compliance document archiving further underscores his extensive and impactful contributions to the field. He earned an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Belgrade.


Dr. Francisco Sagasti is professor, Pacífico Business School, Lima Peru, and senior affiliated researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos. He was President of the Transition and Emergency Government in Peru, congressman, head of his parliamentary caucus, and chair of the Science and Technology Committee. He has been a fellow at the Wilson Center for International Scholars; a senior researcher and executive director at FORO Nacional Internacional; Chief of Strategic Planning at the World Bank; Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology; visiting professor at the Wharton School, the Instituto de Empresa, and the University for Peace; consultant to international public, private and non-profit organizations; Chairman of the Science and Technology Program at the Prime Minister’s Office in Peru; member of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Center for International Development Research (IDRC) and other international organizations; and founder and former Executive Director of GRADE, a leading Peruvian think-tank;. He has published more than 130 papers and 30 books. He has received the Paul Hoffmann award, created in honor of the administrator of the Marshall Plan and first UNDP director; the first Robert K. Merton award of the International Sociological Association, created to honor the memory of the pioneer of the sociology of science; and the Edgardo Habich award, created in honor of the founder of the National Engineering School of Peru in the 1870s.


Nicole McLaughlin is a multidisciplinary designer. Since 2018, Nicole has explored greater possibilities for sustainability through self-initiated and collaborative efforts. While sustainability is often used as a marketing buzzword because of its PR value, Nicole's accessible, witty, and functional practice serves as a reminder that sustainability is actually an operational philosophy. By transforming discarded miscellanea into objects with new, imaginative, and often unexpected utility, Nicole shows how a circular approach to design and manufacturing can help us reframe waste as an opportunity. Nicole has partnered with companies such as Hermès, Nike, eBay, Gucci, Vans, HBO, Calvin Klein, etc. Her work has been displayed at the Design Museum in London in conjunction with her nomination for the Beazley Design of the Year in 2020. Her works have most recently been shown in the Berman Museum in Pennsylvania, Cornell University (NYC), and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. In 2022, Nicole was announced as a Forbes 30 under 30 member within art and design. Her work has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Vogue, Footwear News, GQ, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and more.


Tom Lin is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis. His scholarly research investigates the role of science fiction and popular culture in the shaping of large technical systems, such as the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile, using a hybrid approach that draws from the intersection of the history of technology and literary studies. His debut novel, THE THOUSAND CRIMES OF MING TSU, reimagines the traditional Western, following a Chinese American assassin in the last days of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. It won the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award and the Northern California Book Reviewers’ Award in Fiction. His current projects include a new novel, forthcoming in 2026, as well as an exploration of American nuclear tourism.


Adam Aleksic, known online as the Etymology Nerd, is a linguist focused on bringing the scientific study of language to a broad audience. He has reached tens of millions through his elaborate constructed languages and etymology videos explaining modern linguistic phenomena. Adam holds a linguistics degree from Harvard University, where he co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and began his career in linguistics communication. As an etymologist and content creator, he specializes in the intersection between language and social media.


Daniella Pierson is the Latina 28-year-old founder and CEO of The Newsette Media Group which encompasses The Newsette newsletter as well as other Gen Z and Millennial-focused media properties with Fortune 100 partners. Daniella is also a co-founder of Wondermind, a mental fitness company she started with Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey. Forbes recently named Daniella the World’s Youngest Wealthiest Self-Made BIPOC Woman, (reporting her net worth as $220M). Daniella’s success has enabled her to invest in BIPOC brands she believes in and has given her the platform to show the world that ANYONE can achieve success at any age despite barriers like the ones she faced (no VC funding, living with mental illness (OCD and Depression), coping with a learning disability (ADHD), and being a Latina when women of color receive just .4% of investor funds). Daniella has been on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine, profiled in Business Insider, USA Today, CNBC, GMA, and achieved the Forbes 30 Under 30 list at age 24.


Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, with affiliations in the Departments of Electrical and Systems Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, Bioengineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. He received his BS degree from the University of Tehran, and his MS and Ph.D. degrees from Caltech. His current research activities span a broad range of areas including optics, metamaterials, electrodynamics, microwaves, photonics, nano-optics, graphene photonics, imaging and sensing inspired by eyes of animal species, microwave and optical antennas, and physics and engineering of fields and waves.


Victor J. Glover was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2013 and is currently assigned as the pilot of NASA’s Artemis II mission to circle the moon in 2025. Glover is a captain and F/A-18 pilot in the U.S. Navy and is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. He has previously served as the pilot of the first operational flight of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station as part of Expedition 64. During his career, Glover has accumulated 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier arrested landings, and 24 combat missions. Glover's callsign is "Ike", given to him by one of his first commanding officers, standing for "I know everything”.

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