PopTech 2009

  • October 21-24, 2009
  • Camden, Maine

World-changing people, projects, and ideas

Speakers

Naïf Al-Mutawa

Creator of "The 99," an Islamic comic book

Will Allen

Urban farmer
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Urban farming: Will Allen is co-founder and director of Growing Power, Inc., an organization that is transforming the production and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations. Growing Power operates as an urban farm and education... More

Urban farming: Will Allen is co-founder and director of Growing Power, Inc., an organization that is transforming the production and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations. Growing Power operates as an urban farm and education center in Milwaukee, WI, and more recently, Chicago, teaching urban youth how to produce low-cost healthy foods for their communities.

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Massoud Amin

Security expert

Kurt Andersen

Novelist and radio host

Jason Aramburu

Founder, re:char
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New energy: Jason Aramburu launched re:char in 2005 to develop low-cost technologies that fight climate change while improving the quality of degraded soils. re:char’s systems convert agricultural waste into renewable fuel and into biochar,... More

New energy: Jason Aramburu launched re:char in 2005 to develop low-cost technologies that fight climate change while improving the quality of degraded soils. re:char’s systems convert agricultural waste into renewable fuel and into biochar, sequestering atmospheric carbon and improving soil quality.

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Dan Ariely

Author, "Predictably Irrational" and "The Upside of Irrationality"
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Irrational Economics: MIT professor Dan Ariely believes that the starting point for making better decisions, particularly with financial matters, requires understanding the impulse to act irrationally. At PopTech 2009, Ariely discussed an excerpt... More

Irrational Economics: MIT professor Dan Ariely believes that the starting point for making better decisions, particularly with financial matters, requires understanding the impulse to act irrationally. At PopTech 2009, Ariely discussed an excerpt from his new book, The Upside of Irrationality, about the role of emotions in the workplace.

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Zee Avi

Singer Songwriter
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A YouTube sensation: Shortly after posting self-styled videos on YouTube, singer-songwriter Zee Avi woke up to 3,000 emails one morning. One offered her a recording contract with Brushfire Records. Since then, Avi left her home in Kuala Lumpur for... More

A YouTube sensation: Shortly after posting self-styled videos on YouTube, singer-songwriter Zee Avi woke up to 3,000 emails one morning. One offered her a recording contract with Brushfire Records. Since then, Avi left her home in Kuala Lumpur for Los Angeles. She performs melodic, melancholy songs tinged with irrepressible optimism.

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Steve Barr

Founder, Green Dot Public Schools
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Fixing Failing Schools: According to Steve Barr, the fastest way to fix education in America would be to make private schools illegal. As the founder of Green Dot Public Schools, Barr is devoted to improving public education in blighted cities. His... More

Fixing Failing Schools: According to Steve Barr, the fastest way to fix education in America would be to make private schools illegal. As the founder of Green Dot Public Schools, Barr is devoted to improving public education in blighted cities. His efforts have transformed high schools across Los Angeles into charter schools that send nearly 80% of students to college.

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Eben Bayer

Co-founder, Ecovative Design
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Bio-packaging: Ecovative Design is an initiative that transforms low-value agricultural byproducts into strong biological composites that can be used as biodegradable alternatives to conventional plastics, foams, and packaging materials.

Bio-packaging: Ecovative Design is an initiative that transforms low-value agricultural byproducts into strong biological composites that can be used as biodegradable alternatives to conventional plastics, foams, and packaging materials.

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Assaf Biderman

SENSEable City Laboratory, MIT

Nick Bilton

Lead Technology Reporter, The New York Times
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Smart Content: Nick Bilton, Lead Technology Reporter for The New York Times “Bits” blog, says that digital media has resulted in a “new form of storytelling.” Bilton, who is also a designer and user interface specialist, is co-founder of NYC... More

Smart Content: Nick Bilton, Lead Technology Reporter for The New York Times “Bits” blog, says that digital media has resulted in a “new form of storytelling.” Bilton, who is also a designer and user interface specialist, is co-founder of NYC Resistor, a hacker collective in Brooklyn, and is currently writing a book called, I Live in the Future: & Here’s How It Works.

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George Church

Professor, Genetics and Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard Medical School
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Know Your Genes: Geneticist George Church believes that genome sequencing can bring us closer to personalized medicine. Several years ago, Church launched the Personal Genome Project, a public database that connects genes to diseases as well as... More

Know Your Genes: Geneticist George Church believes that genome sequencing can bring us closer to personalized medicine. Several years ago, Church launched the Personal Genome Project, a public database that connects genes to diseases as well as physical and biological characteristics. 100,000 volunteers are expected to contribute by 2010.

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Anthony Doerr

Fiction writer
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Am I still here: Fiction writer and memoirist Anthony Doerr is the author of three books, The Shell Collector, About Grace, and Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. Here, the award-winning... More

Am I still here: Fiction writer and memoirist Anthony Doerr is the author of three books, The Shell Collector, About Grace, and Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. Here, the award-winning writer shares a story about how networked technologies can alienate us from nature and the things that matter most.

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Esther Duflo

Co-founder, Poverty Action Lab
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Ending Poverty: Esther Duflo, MIT economist and co-founder of the Poverty Action Lab, asks why the world’s poorest people tend to stay poor. Duflo’s pioneering research applies randomized trials, used extensively in drug discovery research, to... More

Ending Poverty: Esther Duflo, MIT economist and co-founder of the Poverty Action Lab, asks why the world’s poorest people tend to stay poor. Duflo’s pioneering research applies randomized trials, used extensively in drug discovery research, to development economics. What she discovers are strategies for transforming current approaches to development policy.

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Robert Fabricant

VP, Creative, Frog Design

Nicholas Felton

Co-founder & Graphic Designer, Daytum.com
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Tracing Our Lives: Graphic designer Nicholas Felton is obsessed with data. He knows how many songs he’s listened to and how much it costs him per mile to fly. Felton visualizes these numerous details in personal “Annual Reports.” At PopTech... More

Tracing Our Lives: Graphic designer Nicholas Felton is obsessed with data. He knows how many songs he’s listened to and how much it costs him per mile to fly. Felton visualizes these numerous details in personal “Annual Reports.” At PopTech 2009, Felton examines what a weeklong-snapshot of New York Times’ front pages reveals about America.

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John Fetterman

Mayor, Braddock, Pennsylvania

John Forté

Musician & Producer
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An Impresario Returns: John Forté is an accomplished musician and producer who recently released StyleFREE the EP, his first album since serving seven years in federal prison. Forte’s career was interrupted by a 14-year sentence for a first-time... More

An Impresario Returns: John Forté is an accomplished musician and producer who recently released StyleFREE the EP, his first album since serving seven years in federal prison. Forte’s career was interrupted by a 14-year sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offense; Former President Bush commuted his sentence in 2008.

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James Fowler

Associate Professor, Political Science, University of California, San Diego
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Power of Networks: Can your social network make you fat? Affect your mood? Political scientist James H. Fowler reveals the dynamics of social networks, the invisible webs that connect each of us to the other. With Nicholas A. Christakis, Fowler... More

Power of Networks: Can your social network make you fat? Affect your mood? Political scientist James H. Fowler reveals the dynamics of social networks, the invisible webs that connect each of us to the other. With Nicholas A. Christakis, Fowler recently coauthored, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

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Amanda Geppert

Ceasefire Chicago

Daniel Goleman

Psychologist and author, "Emotional Intelligence"

Robert Guest

Journalist, The Economist
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On U.S. power: Despite some predictions otherwise, Guest suggests that America is uniquely positioned to continue as the world’s leading superpower thanks to its unparalleled ability to attract working immigrants from around the world.

On U.S. power: Despite some predictions otherwise, Guest suggests that America is uniquely positioned to continue as the world’s leading superpower thanks to its unparalleled ability to attract working immigrants from around the world.

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Tony Hey

Corporate Vice President of External Research, Microsoft
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Citizen science: Hey is responsible for public-private partnerships with scientific and engineering communities, government agencies, and industry partners worldwide. At PopTech 2009, Hey discussed the critical role of citizen scientists in... More

Citizen science: Hey is responsible for public-private partnerships with scientific and engineering communities, government agencies, and industry partners worldwide. At PopTech 2009, Hey discussed the critical role of citizen scientists in understanding complex data-intensive problems like climate change and galaxy formation.

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Chris Jordan

Photographer and artist
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Polluting plastics: Photographer Chris Jordan specializes in large-scale works that depict the magnitude of our consumerism and its impact on our environment. In one of the most emotional presentations at PopTech 2009, Jordan shares heart-wrenching... More

Polluting plastics: Photographer Chris Jordan specializes in large-scale works that depict the magnitude of our consumerism and its impact on our environment. In one of the most emotional presentations at PopTech 2009, Jordan shares heart-wrenching images of birds killed by ingesting plastics that increasingly pollute our oceans.

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Paula Kahumbu

Executive Director, WildlifeDirect
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Conservation 2.0: Paula Kahumbu is building a global wildlife conservation community that connects conservationists and their supporters through blogs and direct funding. The goal: a movement powerful enough to reverse catastrophic species loss in Africa and around the world.

Conservation 2.0: Paula Kahumbu is building a global wildlife conservation community that connects conservationists and their supporters through blogs and direct funding. The goal: a movement powerful enough to reverse catastrophic species loss in Africa and around the world.

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Zoë Keating

Cellist
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Radical Cello: Cellist Zoë Keating uses a cello and a small box of electronics to create a one-woman avant-garde orchestra. A former member of the cello-rock trio Rasputina, Keating has played live on radio and television, in the Nevada desert, in... More

Radical Cello: Cellist Zoë Keating uses a cello and a small box of electronics to create a one-woman avant-garde orchestra. A former member of the cello-rock trio Rasputina, Keating has played live on radio and television, in the Nevada desert, in medieval churches, punk clubs, and in venues across North America and Europe.

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Kacie Kinzer

Designer
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Robot Love: Designer Kacie Kinzer explores what technology can reveal about empathy and cooperation. So she built a Tweenbot, a cardboard robot equipped only with “cuteness and a flag that says ‘help me’” to elicit help from passersby. With... More

Robot Love: Designer Kacie Kinzer explores what technology can reveal about empathy and cooperation. So she built a Tweenbot, a cardboard robot equipped only with “cuteness and a flag that says ‘help me’” to elicit help from passersby. With the help of 29 strangers, the tiny robot crossed NYC’s Washington Square Park in just 42 minutes.

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Nicole Kuepper

Ph.D. candidate
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Low-cost solar: Kuepper patented a simple low-temperature process for printing low-cost solar cells that could make solar energy affordable across the developing world.

Low-cost solar: Kuepper patented a simple low-temperature process for printing low-cost solar cells that could make solar energy affordable across the developing world.

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Laura Kurgan

Co-Director, Spatial Information Design Lab, Columbia University
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Human Geographies: Architect Laura Kurgan is the Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. Kurgan visualizes complex political and social data to advocate for social reform. One project, “Million Dollar Blocks”,... More

Human Geographies: Architect Laura Kurgan is the Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. Kurgan visualizes complex political and social data to advocate for social reform. One project, “Million Dollar Blocks”, shows how the government spends more than one million dollars to incarcerate prisoners who live within a single census block.

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Jonah Lehrer

Author, "Proust Was a Neuroscientist"
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Creative insights: Exploring outsider intelligence, Lehrer notes that, paradoxically, lacking expertise on a subject can be an asset. “It’s what allows us to see the connections, to see the problems that no one else can see.”

Creative insights: Exploring outsider intelligence, Lehrer notes that, paradoxically, lacking expertise on a subject can be an asset. “It’s what allows us to see the connections, to see the problems that no one else can see.”

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Kyna Leski

Architecture professor, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
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Creative processes: Artistic sensibility, Leski suggests, comes from the actual process of gathering, seeing, and grasping — allowing us to “know” the world. She is also Principal at 3six0 Architecture.

Creative processes: Artistic sensibility, Leski suggests, comes from the actual process of gathering, seeing, and grasping — allowing us to “know” the world. She is also Principal at 3six0 Architecture.

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Deb Levine

Founder, ISIS – Internet Sexuality Information Services
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21st Century Sex Ed: Using the web, mobile phones and other media, ISIS gives people private and convenient access to information on critical health issues like HIV prevention and unplanned pregnancies.

21st Century Sex Ed: Using the web, mobile phones and other media, ISIS gives people private and convenient access to information on critical health issues like HIV prevention and unplanned pregnancies.

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Zach Lieberman

Artist & Computer Programmer
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Interactive Art: Artist Zach Lieberman uses interactive media to inspire – and explore the relationship between technology, performance, and the body. His recent projects include an open-source eye-tracking system that allows disabled artists to... More

Interactive Art: Artist Zach Lieberman uses interactive media to inspire – and explore the relationship between technology, performance, and the body. His recent projects include an open-source eye-tracking system that allows disabled artists to draw using their eyes and a performance that includes drawn sketches that react to a visitors’ touch.

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Dennis Littky

Co-founder & Co-Director, Big Picture Learning
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Dennis Littky on Big Picture Ed: The co-founder and co-director of Big Picture Learning, Dennis Littky believes that cookie-cutter teaching fails too many students. So Littky works to make alternative, non-standardized curriculums the new standard.... More

Dennis Littky on Big Picture Ed: The co-founder and co-director of Big Picture Learning, Dennis Littky believes that cookie-cutter teaching fails too many students. So Littky works to make alternative, non-standardized curriculums the new standard. Big Picture now has more than 70 schools nationwide.

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Derek Lomas

Founder, Playpower Foundation

Reuben Margolin

Kinetic artist
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Kinetic art: First inspired by the mysterious and mathematical qualities of a caterpillar’s crawl, artist Reuben Margolin creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that use pulleys and motors to create the complex movements and structures we see in nature.

Kinetic art: First inspired by the mysterious and mathematical qualities of a caterpillar’s crawl, artist Reuben Margolin creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that use pulleys and motors to create the complex movements and structures we see in nature.

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Ashley Merryman

Author
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Ashley Merryman on Parenting: Ashley Merryman has co-authored numerous articles about parenthood. Over the past two years, she and journalist Po Bronson have collaborated on an award-winning series of articles in New York Magazine. Their most recent... More

Ashley Merryman on Parenting: Ashley Merryman has co-authored numerous articles about parenthood. Over the past two years, she and journalist Po Bronson have collaborated on an award-winning series of articles in New York Magazine. Their most recent work, a book titled NurtureShock, explores cutting edge research that challenges many familiar myths about how to best parent kids.

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Josh Nesbit

Co-founder, FrontlineSMS:Medic
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Mobile healthcare: FrontlineSMS:Medic uses mobile phones for healthcare in the developing world. A central clinic laptop runs FrontlineSMS software, enabling community health workers to use text messages to coordinate patient care, offer mobile diagnostics, and map health services.

Mobile healthcare: FrontlineSMS:Medic uses mobile phones for healthcare in the developing world. A central clinic laptop runs FrontlineSMS software, enabling community health workers to use text messages to coordinate patient care, offer mobile diagnostics, and map health services.

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Dan Nocera

Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy & Professor of Chemistry, MIT
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Personalized Energy: MIT Professor Dan Nocera believes he can solve the world's energy problems with an Olympic-sized pool of water. Nocera and his research team have identified a simple technique for powering the Earth inexpensively - by using the... More

Personalized Energy: MIT Professor Dan Nocera believes he can solve the world's energy problems with an Olympic-sized pool of water. Nocera and his research team have identified a simple technique for powering the Earth inexpensively - by using the sun to split water and store energy - and thus making the large-scale deployment of personalized solar energy possible.

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James O'Brien

Founder, BCAM – Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School
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Hands-on education: James O’Brien assembled a staff of like-minded educators to create BCAM – Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School. The fledgling educational-innovation tank combines performance-based academics and professional training in... More

Hands-on education: James O’Brien assembled a staff of like-minded educators to create BCAM – Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School. The fledgling educational-innovation tank combines performance-based academics and professional training in media and arts to prepare teenagers for success in the 21st century.

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Mark O'Connor

Fiddler
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Fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor and 14-year-old prodigy fiddler Ruby Jane Smith share the stage. Together they mesmerize audiences with the duets that play tribute to the spirit of Americana music, at times slow and melancholy, and others rousing and lyrical.

Fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor and 14-year-old prodigy fiddler Ruby Jane Smith share the stage. Together they mesmerize audiences with the duets that play tribute to the spirit of Americana music, at times slow and melancholy, and others rousing and lyrical.

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Gideon Obarzanek

Choreographer
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Digital moves: Hailed by The Australian as the country’s best modern dance company, choreographer Gideon Obarzanek’s Chunky Move dazzles audiences with its use of site-specific installations and interactive sound and light technologies.... More

Digital moves: Hailed by The Australian as the country’s best modern dance company, choreographer Gideon Obarzanek’s Chunky Move dazzles audiences with its use of site-specific installations and interactive sound and light technologies. Obarzanek’s avant-garde performances explore the tensions between the rational world we live in and richness of our imagination.

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Dean Ornish

President & Founder, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
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Healthy Connections: For more than thirty years, Dr Dean Ornish has demonstrated the power of a healthy lifestyle as the best kind of preventive care. These choices, Ornish reveals, are can turn on” disease-preventing genes and “turn off” genes... More

Healthy Connections: For more than thirty years, Dr Dean Ornish has demonstrated the power of a healthy lifestyle as the best kind of preventive care. These choices, Ornish reveals, are can turn on” disease-preventing genes and “turn off” genes that promote illness. Dr. Ornish has published a number of best-selling books on the subject; the most recent is The Spectrum.

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Neri Oxman

Founder, MATERIALECOLOGY
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On designing form: Oxman investigates nature’s material and performance, to define form itself.

On designing form: Oxman investigates nature’s material and performance, to define form itself.

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Aydogan Ozcan

Professor of electrical engineering, UCLA

New ways to detect infectious disease

New ways to detect infectious disease

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Katy Payne

Researcher, Bioacoustics Research Program, Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University
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Elephant Songs: Animal communication researcher Katy Payne has been studying the sounds of African elephants and humpback whales for decades. Her research has led her to fascinating conclusions on how acoustic phenomena shape relationships and... More

Elephant Songs: Animal communication researcher Katy Payne has been studying the sounds of African elephants and humpback whales for decades. Her research has led her to fascinating conclusions on how acoustic phenomena shape relationships and communities. In1999, Payne founded the Elephant Listening Project to monitor elephants’ movements.

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Emily Pilloton

Founder, Project H Design
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Design for change: Emily Pilloton founded Project H Design to mobilize innovative product design for social good. In its first year, the organization built a community of more than 300 designers and launched more than 20 projects in 6 countries.... More

Design for change: Emily Pilloton founded Project H Design to mobilize innovative product design for social good. In its first year, the organization built a community of more than 300 designers and launched more than 20 projects in 6 countries. These initiatives include water transport solutions and designs for foster care therapy.

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Michael Pollan

Author and professor, University of California, Berkeley
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Sustainable food: Pollan explores how our industrial food system keeps us overly dependent on fossil fuels, destroys our environment, and makes us sick. Breaking this cycle requires changing our relationship to food – and eating more meals together.

Sustainable food: Pollan explores how our industrial food system keeps us overly dependent on fossil fuels, destroys our environment, and makes us sick. Breaking this cycle requires changing our relationship to food – and eating more meals together.

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Aviva Presser Aiden

Co-founder, Lebônê Solutions
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Dirt power: Aviva Presser Aiden and Hugo Van Vuuren co-founded Lebônê Solutions in 2007 to help meet the need for off-grid energy and lighting in the developing world. Fuel cells sold by local entrepreneurs generate electricity from soil microbes... More

Dirt power: Aviva Presser Aiden and Hugo Van Vuuren co-founded Lebônê Solutions in 2007 to help meet the need for off-grid energy and lighting in the developing world. Fuel cells sold by local entrepreneurs generate electricity from soil microbes to power LED lights, cell phones, and other devices.

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Mark Rembert

Co-founder, Energize Clinton County
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Green ideas: Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert co-founded Energize Clinton County after the departure of a major employer threatened the Wilmington, Ohio region. The grassroots movement transformed the crisis into an opportunity for the region to... More

Green ideas: Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert co-founded Energize Clinton County after the departure of a major employer threatened the Wilmington, Ohio region. The grassroots movement transformed the crisis into an opportunity for the region to become the country’s first Green Enterprise Zone.

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Logan Richardson

Alto Saxophonist, Composer, & Bandleader
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Improvisations: Logan Richardson’s alto saxophone compositions have been hailed by the Jazz Times as “incisive, multi-dimensional and remarkably flexible, wrapping and twisting phrases into unexpected origami shapes.” At PopTech 2009,... More

Improvisations: Logan Richardson’s alto saxophone compositions have been hailed by the Jazz Times as “incisive, multi-dimensional and remarkably flexible, wrapping and twisting phrases into unexpected origami shapes.” At PopTech 2009, Richardson’s improvisations muse on America at a critical crossroads.

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John Rogers

CEO, Local Motors

Alec Ross

Senior Advisor on Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
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Statecraft 3.0: Ross says it’s time to reboot US diplomatic efforts abroad, and calls for 21st century statecraft based on the innovative use of new media.

Statecraft 3.0: Ross says it’s time to reboot US diplomatic efforts abroad, and calls for 21st century statecraft based on the innovative use of new media.

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Reihan Salam

Conservative political writer
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New conservatism: Salam argues that America’s growing diversity, divided by massive inequalities, will lead the country to increasing social conservatism. Salam also co-authored Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.

New conservatism: Salam argues that America’s growing diversity, divided by massive inequalities, will lead the country to increasing social conservatism. Salam also co-authored Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.

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Rinku Sen

President and Executive Director, Applied Research Center
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Locating Justice: Rinku Sen is devoted to creating a more inclusive America. If we’re willing to be explicit about the ways racism works around us, Sen says, we can create the society we all want to live in. Sen also publishes the ColorLines, a magazine on race and politics.

Locating Justice: Rinku Sen is devoted to creating a more inclusive America. If we’re willing to be explicit about the ways racism works around us, Sen says, we can create the society we all want to live in. Sen also publishes the ColorLines, a magazine on race and politics.

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Hayat Sindi

Founder, Diagnostics for All
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Accessible health: Hayat Sindi co-founded Diagnostics For All to offer point-of-care diagnostic tools micro-fabricated in paper. These technologies allow healthcare workers to monitor the treatment of the 60% of people living beyond the reach of... More

Accessible health: Hayat Sindi co-founded Diagnostics For All to offer point-of-care diagnostic tools micro-fabricated in paper. These technologies allow healthcare workers to monitor the treatment of the 60% of people living beyond the reach of medical infrastructures. Sindi is also an advocate for science education and careers for women in the Middle East.

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Willie Smits

Biologist and conservationist
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Saving Rainforests: Biologist Willie Smits has spent the last thirty years searching for ways to restore fragile ecosystems. From his home in Indonesia – a leading producer of greenhouse gases – Smits has discovered a method of sustainable... More

Saving Rainforests: Biologist Willie Smits has spent the last thirty years searching for ways to restore fragile ecosystems. From his home in Indonesia – a leading producer of greenhouse gases – Smits has discovered a method of sustainable energy production: using the forest to generate biofuels with a carbon-positive impact.

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Taylor Stuckert

Co-founder, Energize Clinton County
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Green ideas: Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert co-founded Energize Clinton County after the departure of a major employer threatened the Wilmington, Ohio region. The grassroots movement transformed the crisis into an opportunity for the region to... More

Green ideas: Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert co-founded Energize Clinton County after the departure of a major employer threatened the Wilmington, Ohio region. The grassroots movement transformed the crisis into an opportunity for the region to become the country’s first Green Enterprise Zone.

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Hugo Van Vuuren

Co-founder, Lebônê Solutions
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Dirt power: Aviva Presser Aiden and Hugo Van Vuuren co-founded Lebônê Solutions in 2007 to help meet the need for off-grid energy and lighting in the developing world. Fuel cells sold by local entrepreneurs generate electricity from soil microbes... More

Dirt power: Aviva Presser Aiden and Hugo Van Vuuren co-founded Lebônê Solutions in 2007 to help meet the need for off-grid energy and lighting in the developing world. Fuel cells sold by local entrepreneurs generate electricity from soil microbes to power LED lights, cell phones, and other devices.

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Paul van Zyl

Co-founder, International Centre for Transitional Justice
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Legacy of torture: Paul Van Zyl has devoted his career to human rights. The South African has been helping his country out of apartheid through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Van Zyl calls on America to hold its own commission to “openly... More

Legacy of torture: Paul Van Zyl has devoted his career to human rights. The South African has been helping his country out of apartheid through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Van Zyl calls on America to hold its own commission to “openly and publicly” confront the torture that recently occurred in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

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Lorrie Vogel

General Manager, “Considered”, Nike
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Pioneering designs: As General Manager for Nike’s “Considered” team, Lorrie Vogel is conducting pioneering research in sustainable product design. Vogel says that green design requires fundamentally altering Nike business practices – which... More

Pioneering designs: As General Manager for Nike’s “Considered” team, Lorrie Vogel is conducting pioneering research in sustainable product design. Vogel says that green design requires fundamentally altering Nike business practices – which would dramatically cut waste, boost the use of eco-conscious materials, and transform social attitudes around consumption.

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Marije Vogelzang

Founder, Proef (food-design laboratory)
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Dine by design: Vogelzang is inspired by everything that surrounds the act of eating – from the stories and rituals surrounding food preparation to the emotional impact of the texture and color of specific foods. The result? Edible art... More

Dine by design: Vogelzang is inspired by everything that surrounds the act of eating – from the stories and rituals surrounding food preparation to the emotional impact of the texture and color of specific foods. The result? Edible art installations that are at once provocative and intimate.

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Luis von Ahn

Computer science professor, Carnegie Mellon University
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Harnessing brainpower: von Ahn invented ReCaptcha, a program that uses squiggly characters that humans easily decipher but blocks spambots – and helps digitize millions of old texts. The CMU professor also makes games that use human knowledge to... More

Harnessing brainpower: von Ahn invented ReCaptcha, a program that uses squiggly characters that humans easily decipher but blocks spambots – and helps digitize millions of old texts. The CMU professor also makes games that use human knowledge to improve computers. Find them at gwap.com .

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Michael Wesch

Assistant professor of cultural anthropology, Kansas State University

Taking YouTube seriously

Taking YouTube seriously

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Erica Williams

Deputy Director, Campus Progress
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Youth politics: Williams discusses how the Millennial generation—today’s 18-30 year olds—are re-imagining the nature of political engagement.

Youth politics: Williams discusses how the Millennial generation—today’s 18-30 year olds—are re-imagining the nature of political engagement.

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PopTech 2009 is part of the PopTech series of events.

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