On our campus, where many disciplines come together, TEDxSanLuisObispo will hold its fourth annual conference at the Performing Arts Center, Feb. 8 from 4-8 p.m. Ten incredible TEDx speakers will cover a range of diverse topics, including reading human behavior from the perspective of a famous magician, environmental engineering, a dual talk about prison reform and more. Along with the TEDx talks, there will be performances, a student showcase and networking opportunities. Now let’s introduce these 10 inspirational figures whose presentations will not only bring our community together but also expand our minds. 

James King 

James King is a writer. His influences include James Baldwin, Angela Davis, his hometown of Ferguson, MO and his belief that all oppression must be eradicated. He said writes to introduce marginalized perspectives, and he writes to feel whole. Read a piece of his work here.

Courtney Rein (alongside James King) 

As an educator, Courtney Rein said she believes her students have often been her greatest teachers: from young people to students-in-custody. She seeks to democratize the classroom and to expand its boundaries to include the wisdom that lives at the margins. Read her faculty spotlight here.

Rich Ferguson 

Rich Ferguson is an award-winning magician and mentalist who you may have seen on YouTube, or in shows such as Ellen or the Tonight Show. At the conference, he will share his insights and secrets to reading human behavior, which you can use for sales, hiring, negotiations and life. Visit Ferguson’s website here.

David Bartolomucci 

When a life-changing experience during his teenage years altered his perspective, David Bartolomucci developed a new willingness to live life with purpose. He started at Cal Poly as a D1 athlete majoring in finance with a minor in theater, but despite his collegiate success, he was still searching for ways to create meaningful change in his life and impact others. By dedicating his time to a startup business proposal, he found that a traditional college experience alone might not be enough for people in pursuit of purpose. MN covered his startup story here.

Zahnae Aquino 

Zahnae Aquino, a current computer science senior minoring in psychology, works at the California Cybersecurity Institute as the Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Software lead. She dedicates her time to developing a virtual reality simulation to help train law enforcement. She said she thrives with the intention to be an example for women of color and survivors and hopes to show people what it looks like to be in tune with their power. Learn more about her mission here.

Olivia Lubarsky 

Olivia Lubarsky is a senior on the NCAA Division 1 gymnastics team at Towson University. While at Towson, she founded the Own Your Roar initiative, a model organization for uniting mental health and athletics, further utilizing sports as the platform to start the conversation. Towson shared her story here.

Dave Prakash 

Dave Prakash is currently working on designing AI-based technology for healthcare. Before that, he served in the U.S. military for 13 years as a bomber pilot, operational test pilot and flight surgeon. At the conference he will discuss the valuable, but often maligned, role that uncertainty plays in our lives. Check out what he’s currently up to here.

Katie Patrick 

Katie Patrick designs “Fitbit for the planet” apps that help social-impact entrepreneurs and sustainability professionals implement powerful data, game design and behavior-change techniques that create real and measurable change. As the founder of Urban Canopy in San Francisco, she leads the startup to create high-definition thermal maps of urban heat islands to empower people to create more urban greening and cooling projects. Visit Katie’s website here to learn more.

Robert Crockett 

Robert Crockett is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Cal Poly. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he was founder and president of Xeragen, Inc., a San Luis Obispo-based biotechnology startup company. As the lead engineer at McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company, he developed technology evolution plans for the Space Station. His professional biography can be found here.

Misa Chien 

Misa Chien is a model and serial entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. While attending Harvard Business school in 2019, Misa began to develop and build her speaking career. In her talks, Misa’s topics focus on vulnerable experiences within her entrepreneurial and her personal life, to help inspire, motivate and connect with others. Check out the “About Me” section of Misa’s website here.

Expand your horizons with these speakers and your community at the Performance Art Center Feb. 8, from 4-8 p.m. Click here for more information on the event and to purchase tickets

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