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Eight Speakers Slated for 2022 TEDxUniversityOfMississippi Event

This year’s TEDXUniversityofMississippi will feature eight speakers.

Eight speakers will explore New Avenues in the arts and sciences for the seventh annual TEDxUniversityofMississippi Feb. 22 at the University of Mississippi.

The in-person event begins at 7 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“This year’s theme is ‘New Avenues,’” said Landon Bradley, head of PR for TEDxUniversityofMississippi. “The speakers and artists will share ideas on what new avenues people, communities, and organizations are exploring to optimize outcomes.”

TEDxUniversityofMississippi is a student-run organization that is centered around ideas worth spreading. Speakers from different backgrounds will take the stage to share 10-12 minute talks related to the theme. There will also be a mix of live music and in-seat engagement as well as a post-show reception.

Performers include the Mississippi Jazz Ensemble and the Rising Stars Fire & Drum Band.

Tickets are free but must be reserved through the Ford Center Box Office.

Organizing the event are Anna Reese Couhig, Chief of Staff; Anna Acker, Assistant to the Chief, Kate Hooper, faculty adviser, and a team of 23 students and eight consultants.

TED started 30 years ago as a four-day conference in California and has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are made freely available at TED.com. Notable individuals like Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Sal Khan, and Daniel Kahneman have been previous TED speakers.

This year’s presenters are:

Michelle L.D. Hanlon

Michelle L.D. Hanlon is Co-Director of the Air and Space Law Program at the University of Mississippi School of Law and its Center for Air and Space Law.  She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law, the world’s oldest law journal dedicated to the legal problems arising out of human activities in outer space, and the Faculty Adviser for its sister publication, the Journal of Drone Law and Policy.  Michelle is a Co-Founder and President of For All Moonkind, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that is the only organization in the world focused on protecting human cultural heritage in outer space. She was instrumental in the development of the recently enacted One Small Step Act in the United States. Michelle is the President of the National Space Society and the mentor to the National Space Society Legal Fellows program. Currently, all of Michelle’s work is focused on building the bridge to a future where humans become a multi-planetary species, living and thriving both on Earth and throughout the Universe.

Michael Fagans

Michael Fagans is an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and New Media. He simply enjoys telling people’s stories. A working photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, Michael’s journey has taken him to the Navajo Nation, Malawi, India, Austria, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Belize and Guatemala. He is also the author of three books on iPhone photography with Amherst Media. His documentary film ‘The Trafficked Life’ helped raise over $50,000 that was donated to ten nonprofits working to combat human trafficking in California’s central valley. Michael’s TV Documentary class is wrapping up a project reporting on the Southeastern part of Mississippi. He is currently in post-production on a documentary about David Sheffield, University of Mississippi alum, who staged a play on campus this summer in partnership with Theater Oxford and the Department of Theatre & Film at The University of Mississippi. A paraphrased quote from Hugh Brody speaks to Michael about the photographer’s mind as one of “humanity’s most sophisticated combination of detailed knowledge and intuition. It is where direct experience and metaphor unite in a joint concern to know and use the truth.”

Stephanie Showalter Otts

An environmental attorney specializing in ocean and coastal law, Stephanie earned a B.A. in History from Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. with a joint Masters of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. She is the Director of the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, a federally funded program that provides legal research, education, and outreach services to address ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes natural resources issues to partners around the country. Among other things, Sea Grant focuses its work on water resources to help the nation meet current and future water resource challenges. Since 2018, Stephanie has been co-leading a Mississippi-based interdisciplinary team of researchers doing community-engaged research and outreach to raise awareness of the risks of lead exposure through drinking water and address data gaps in the state. The team’s innovative approach seeks to understand the problem by overlaying different disciplinary “lenses”: public health, civil engineering, law and policy, and population and development. The team’s research has revealed multi-faceted challenges that will require new policy and outreach approaches to address.

Sharde Thomas

Born in North Mississippi, Sharde Thomas is the granddaughter of the late Otha Turner, a highly recognized and studied fife player. Sharde is the heir of her grandfather’s musical legacy and serves as the lead vocalist, fife player, and manager of the Rising Stars Fife & Drum band. Mississippi fife and drum music originated in Africa and was prevalent during slavery and the civil war. The fife and drum music Sharde plays today preserves the traditional concept and serves the same purpose, but she and her band have also stretched the genre, creating greater complexity by adding more percussion, corp style drumming techniques, faster tempos, and popular melodies. Each member of the band brings an expertise to the ensemble as they work together to create a fresh sound based on a centuries-old tradition.

Maria Brito

Maria Brito knows the business of creativity inside-out. After a successful career as a corporate attorney, in 2009 she launched and grew a seven-figure art advisory from scratch. Since then, she’s worked with some of the world’s top artists, including Chinese activist Ai Weiwei and incognito street sensation Banksy. She has also advised hip-hop moguls, Oscar® winning actors. Tony® winning producers, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and many more. She has curated art exhibitions on three continents as well as written and hosted The “C” Files with Maria Brito, a TV and streaming series for PBS. As a proud Latina, Venezuelan immigrant and Harvard graduate, Maria is passionate about sharing her first-hand studies of more than 450 artists from a variety of cultures, as well as adding perspective and diversity to one of the most important topics today: creativity in business and life. Maria’s expertise has been featured extensively in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, VOGUE, TIME, The Economist and CNN among many others. She shares her inspiration and advice weekly to hundreds of thousands social media followers and on her newsletter and blog, The Groove. Maria is the author of the upcoming How Creativity Rules the World (HarperCollins, 2022).

Richard Balkin

Rick Balkin, Ph.D., LPC, NCC is the Interim Department Chair and Professor of Leadership & Counselor Education and Coordinator of Educational Research and Design in the School of Education at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Practicing Forgiveness: A Path Toward Healing, published by Oxford University Press, which focuses on a new model and measure for working through issues of forgiveness and conflict. Rick has over 95 publications, which include textbooks, tests, technical manuals, peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and conference proceedings. Rick began practice as a professional counselor in 1993 focusing on counseling adolescents in crisis. He has worked in academe since 2003.  He is the recipient of the Extended Research Award from the American Counseling Association for his research spanning nearly two decades on adolescents in crisis and counseling outcomes. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling. Rick is a Fellow of the American Counseling Association, past-president for the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, and former editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development, the flagship journal of the American Counseling Association.

Meagen Rosenthal

Dr. Meagan Rosenthal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Administration at the University of Mississippi. Her research focuses on developing systems to integrate health research evidence into practice. She is excited to share her experience with community-driven research design, which generates new data and information she believes will be more quickly adopted by communities and the people in them. Why? Because community-driven research answers the questions that are designated as important by partners in the community. As Co-Director of UM CREW, an externally facing research center on the University of Mississippi campus, Dr. Rosenthal uses community-driven research to empower Mississippi communities. As the Interim Director of the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing, Dr. Rosenthal is using the practice to facilitate a strategic plan that empowers student communities to develop resiliency and maximize potential through holistic well-being.

Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons

Dr. Jacqueline DiBiasie-Sammons has been interested in Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius since childhood when she first discovered her birth date and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD were on the same day. That volcanic event helped preserve the artifacts on which her scholarly career focuses: ancient Roman graffiti. Now she gets to spend nearly every summer walking the streets of the ancient Roman city looking for scribblings of Pompeian who lived nearly 2,000 years ago. Dr. Dibiase-Sammons is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Mississippi and was the 2021 recipient of the Dr. Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award in Humanities. Her current research investigates the aesthetics of ancient graffiti and graffiti made using charcoal. Jackie has also pioneered the application of several digital technologies to record and visualize ancient Roman graffiti. For the past several years she has included students in this research as part of the Ancient Graffiti Project, for which she served as Field Director.

For more information about TEDxUniversityofMississippi, visit https://www.tedxuniversityofmississippi.com/ and follow the group’s social media at @tedxunivms on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

TEDxUniversityOfMississippi partners include the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, College of Liberal Arts, Office of the Provost, Residential College South, the School of Journalism and New Media, and ASB Student Activity Fees.

Tickets can be reserved through the Ford Center Box Office online or by calling 662-915-7411.


Staff report

University of Communications’ Edwin Smith and Hotty Toddy News news editor Alyssa Schnugg contributed to this story.

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