Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani
Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani
Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., serves as the Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. She is professor of nutrition and immunology at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Tufts Sackler Graduate Program in Immunology.
Dr. Meydani’s scientific interests include the impact of nutrition on the aging process and age-associated diseases, the role of nutrition on immune and inflammatory responses and predisposition to infectious diseases in developed and less developed countries, on which she has published extensively. In particular she has published extensively on the impact of dietary lipids and antioxidant on immune and inflammatory responses. Her group was one of the first to report on anti-inflammatory effect of n-3 PUFA in humans and animal models.
Her honors include the American Aging Association Denham Harman Lifetime Research Achievement Award; American Society of Nutrition (ASN) Herman Award in clinical nutrition; ASN Lederle Award in Human Nutrition Research; Fellow of Hedwig van Amerigen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine; American College of Nutrition Grace Goldsmith Award; International HERMES Vitamin Research Award; She was the President of the American Society for Nutrition (June 2014-June 2015) and has served the academic, government and corporate communities as: President of the American Aging Association; member of NIH Geriatric Rehabilitation Study Section, Aging Systems and Geriatrics Study Section, and Cellular Mechanism of Aging and Development Study Section; member of USDA Human Nutrient Requirements for Optimal Health Program Grant Review Panel; member of United Nations FAO/WHO Expert Panel on Nutritional Requirements of the Elderly; member of NIH-funded Consortium Lipid Maps Scientific Advisory Committee, NIA Primate Calorie Restriction Project Advisory Board; Gerontological Society Nutrition Steering Committee; member of the ILSI North America Board of Trustees, Working Group of the Sackler Institute of Nutrition for Aging Populations, NYAS; member of the editorial boards of several journals; chair of several FASEB summer conferences and other international meetings.
Carol W. Greider
Carol W. Greider
Carol Greider, Ph.D. received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1983 and a Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, working together with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, she discovered telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomeres, or chromosome ends.
In 1988, Dr. Greider went to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where, as an independent Cold Spring Harbor Fellow, she cloned and characterized the RNA component of telomerase. In 1990, Dr. Greider was appointed as an assistant investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, followed later by appointment to Investigator in 1994. She expanded the focus of her telomere research to include the role of telomere length in cellular senescence, cell death and in cancer.
In 1997, Dr. Greider moved her laboratory to the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2003, she was appointed as the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. At Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Greider’s group continued to study the biochemistry of telomerase and determined the secondary structure of the human telomerase RNA. In addition, she characterized the loss of telomere function in mice, which allowed an understanding of humans short telomere diseases, such as bone marrow and other stem cell failure diseases.
Dr. Greider shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 with Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak for their work on telomeres and telomerase. Dr. Greider currently directs a group of eight scientists studying both the role of short telomeres in age-related disease and cancer as well as the regulatory mechanism that maintain telomere length.
As editor in chief and senior vice president since 2009, Mariette DiChristina oversees Scientific American, ScientificAmerican.com, Scientific American Mind and all newsstand special editions. She is the eighth person and first female to assume the top post since Scientific American’s founding in 1845. She is also director, Editorial & Publishing, Magazines, for the Nature Research Group.
A science journalist for more than 20 years, she first came to Scientific American in 2001 as its executive editor. She has been a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 2011. She is the Vice-Chair of the Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies for the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils. In 2014 and 2015, was a Visiting Scholar for New York University’s graduate Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, where she has also been an adjunct professor. She was president (in 2009 and 2010) of the 2,500-member National Association of Science Writers. DiChristina is a frequent lecturer and in the past year, she has made more than 20 public appearances, including speaking at several sessions for the World Economic Forum at Davos and other meetings. She has also served an expert witness at the Congressional hearing titled, “The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D,” which focused on investing in STEM education and basic research. For her digital initiatives, she won the 2014 Folio: title of Corporate Visionary for the Folio Top Women in Media Awards.
Product Design Manager, LEGO Education
Pelle Petersen is a Product Design Manager for LEGO Education based in Billund, Denmark. LEGO Education is a global company with a 35-year history developing educational resources and solutions that make learning engaging, challenging and fun for students of all ages. He has more than 20 years of product design experience and is responsible for the design and concept development of LEGO sets for use in global education, including the recently launched LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3. Previously, he served as a designer for LEGO Technic within The LEGO Group, where he was responsible for designing LEGO Technic product lines, from initial ideas to launch, which resulted in new product lines including Bionicle, LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT and the LEGO® Technic Starter Kit to name a few. Pelle uses nontraditional thinking when facing a challenge and aims to make the impossible possible. LEGO bricks, play and learning are the three things he loves and is passionate about spreading into the world. In his spare time, Pelle spends time with his family, participates in amateur bike races and likes to renovate houses.
Stephan Turnipseed is the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Destination Imagination. Destination Imagination, Inc., is a world leader in 21st century skills education and hosts the largest celebration of creativity in the world. Turnipseed is an education thought leader, strategist and entrepreneur who is passionate about inspiring children through education. He is an advocate for hands-on learning which he sees as instrumental for 21st Century success.
During his over 25 years in education and throughout his career he has led companies and organizations to transformative success. As the former President of LEGO® Education North America, he led the team responsible for transforming LEGO Education in North America from a product sales company to an educational resource leader, working with educators, industry experts and academia to help inspire all children to be creative problem solvers.
He is the immediate past Chairman of The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. He is the recipient of the prestigious National Instruments Engineering Impact Award for STEM Innovation which recognizes lifetime achievement in STEM education. He continues to serve on a number of not for profit boards supporting education and success for children.
Steve C. Cowley
Steve C. Cowley
Professor Steven Cowley became Director of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Laboratory in September 2008 and Chief Executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority in November 2009. He received his BA from Oxford University and his PhD. from Princeton University. Professor Cowley's post-doctoral work was at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and he returned to Princeton in 1987. He joined the faculty at the University of California Los Angeles in 1993 rising to the rank of Full Professor in 2000. From 2001 to 2003 he lead the plasma physics group at Imperial College London. He remains a part time professor at Imperial College. From 2004 to 2008 he was the Director of the Center for Multi-scale Plasma Dynamics at UCLA. His main research interest is in realising fusion power -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6BLFdBfgfU. He has also published over 150 papers on: the origin of magnetic fields in the universe, the theory of plasma turbulence and explosive behaviour in both laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. Professor Cowley co-chaired the US National Academy's decadal assessment of, and outlook for plasma science. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics and the recipient of the IOP's 2012 Glazebrook Medal for leadership in physics. Currently he is also a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Science and Technology. In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Chief Astronaut Instructor, Virgin Galactic
Ms. Beth Moses is an aerospace engineer at Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline. At Virgin Galactic, Ms. Moses is serving a dual role of Chief Astronaut Instructor and Cabin Program Manager. Her teams are responsible for the construction of the passenger cabin of SpaceShipTwo and the creation of the training program and equipment to prepare future astronauts for spaceflight.
Previously, Ms. Moses worked for NASA’s Johnson Space Center where she served as the Extravehicular Activity System Manager for the International Space Station from initial design through final on-orbit construction. She designed and implemented the global program of human-in-the-loop testing which verified the spacewalk mechanisms used to assemble and maintain the station. Ms. Moses also led an international engineering team that created external outfitting for two central station modules, Node2 and Node3. As a result of her contributions alongside the global team, NASA received the Robert J. Collier trophy honoring the “greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics in America” in 2009 for “successful design, development, and assembly of the worlds’ largest spacecraft, an orbiting laboratory, promising new discoveries for mankind and setting new standards for international co-operation in space.”
Ms. Moses received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University. As a student, she was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Microgravity Research Award to conduct materials research in parabolic flight.
National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Thomas Culhane is an urban planner and Environmental Sustainability and Justice Professor at Mercy College New York whose non-governmental organization, Solar CITIES, trains people in some of the world's poorest neighborhoods how to build and install household biodigesters, solar water heaters and other renewable energy, water, and waste management systems. Hundreds of kitchen-waste-to-cooking-gas biogas systems and home-made solar hot water systems now dot rooftops from the Coptic Christian and Islamic neighborhoods of Cairo, Egypt to the favelas of Rio De Janeiro to youth hostels and family farms in Swaziland. (See http://solarcities.eu/projects) Culhane grew up in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where both his parents were professors at Mercy College and where he now shares his passion for sustainable development with a new generation of students.. He graduated from Harvard University with honors, earning a degree in biological anthropology.
After graduation, Culhane spent a year doing rain forest and orangutan research in Borneo as a Michael Rockefeller Fellow and later worked as a science writer before returning to education, first as an inner city high school science teacher and curriculum developer, later as a college professor and development specialist. Culhane currently lives between Essen, Germany, and New York. He completed his Ph.D. at UCLA in the fall of 2010 after living and studying agroforestry in the rain forest villages of Guatemala and renewable energy in the slums of Egypt. He spends part of each year in Africa, the Middle East, Central America and California, working on renewable energy multimedia projects and traveling to developing countries to learn appropriate emerging technologies that can be adapted to informal communities, as well as to making his own home zero-waste and energy independent. His belief is that everybody, "can have the chance to live a dignified, healthy and sustainable life because it turns out that solving our energy and waste problems at the home scale isn’t difficult at all!"
Dr. Frances Colón
Dr. Frances Colón
Dr. Frances Colón is the Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State where she promotes integration of science and technology into foreign policy dialogues; global advancement of women in science; and innovation as a tool for economic growth around the world. In her role as a science diplomat, Frances has overseen the creation of the Networks of Diasporas in Engineering and Science and coordinated climate change policy for the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas announced by President Obama. Her first steps in diplomacy were in the Muslim world, enhancing K-12 science and math education cooperation. Her most recent adventures have her leading efforts for reestablishing cooperation between scientists in the United States and Cuba.
Dr. Colón is founding board member of Cenadores PR, a non-profit that harnesses the connections and expertise of the Puerto Rican diaspora to empower civil society on the island of Puerto Rico. She is a graduate of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, fellow of the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program and delegate to the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations Young Leaders Forum. She is recipient of the National Puerto Rican Coalition 2015 Leadership Awards, the ConPRmetidos 2015 Ideas for Puerto Rico Award and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Inspira Award. Colón earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2004 from Brandeis University and her B.S. in Biology in 1997 from the University of Puerto Rico where her passion for science was sparked as an undergraduate researcher.
Dr. Tom Insel
Dr. Tom Insel
Dr. Tom Insel is a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who joined Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) in December, 2015. Prior to Verily, Dr. Insel was Director of the National Institute of Mental Health at the NIH from 2002 - 2015. At NIMH he brought the power of genomics and neuroscience to the study of serious mental illness, he launched the Research Domain Criteria project to transform diagnostics, and he led an overhaul of the clinical trials program to focus on targets and mechanisms. During his tenure at NIH, he also served as Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, co-Chair of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint, and co-Chair of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. From 2011-2012 he also served as Interim Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.
Prior to his NIH service, Dr. Insel was the founding Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Emory University (1999-2002), Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center (1994-1999), and professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (1994-2002). His research interests have spanned clinical studies of obsessive compulsive disorder (1979-1985), neurobiological studies of the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in complex social behaviors (1983- 2002), and global mental health (2005 - 2015). He received his BA and MD degrees from the Boston University Combined 6 Year Medical Program (1974) and completed his residency in psychiatry at UCSF (1979). Dr. Insel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous honors including an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh (2014).
Lillan Lykke Spiertz
Lillan Lykke Spiertz
Lillan Lykke Spiertz is a digital experience manager with LEGO Education. Her main role is to create and maintain digital experiences for LEGO Education solutions, including LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education. Her passion lies in the possibilities MINDSTORMS creates for children around the world and works to create engaging experiences which provides them with a toolbox to grow in their education.
Her interest in software development began around age 10, when Lillan took apart her home computer and put it back together. From this experience, her interest was piqued in computers and she slowly moved towards robotics when on her first day of college she walked in her first LEGO Robotics class. From there, Lillan served as an intern in the Robotics Software department at LEGO, where she was involved in the development of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT 2.0.
Lillan received her degree in IT Engineering from VIA University. Outside of work, Lillan loves to travel and is involved with a NGO that educates teachers and mentors in robotics programs in schools in Cambodia, Surinam, Vietnam and India. She also enjoys surfing and hiking mountains.
Vice President of Operations for The Spaceship Company
Enrico is responsible for leading the operations for The Spaceship Company (TSC), the aerospace production company founded by Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, to build the world’s first fleet of commercial spaceships and carrier aircraft. Enrico joined Virgin Galactic in 2006, and has served as a key management team member for the SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo development program. Enrico led TSC’s establishment from a business plan concept to a thriving spaceship production company.
Enrico has a Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering and Bachelor of Science in physics and applied mathematics from the University of Western Australia (UWA). Enrico was the recipient of UWA’s prestigious Faculty of Science medal, awarded to the top science graduate in his final year. A very motivated individual, Enrico moved his family from Perth, Australia to London, England, and then to Mojave, California, in pursuit of his lifelong ambition and dream of taking the space industry to the next level. Enrico studied at the International Space University in France completing the intensive Space Studies Program. In 2014, Enrico was selected as the Warren Centre’s Innovation Lecturer, delivering a lecture series in several Australian cities.
Student, 2015 Google Science Fair Grand Prize Winner
Olivia Hallisey is a junior at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, where she developed a novel diagnostic test for Ebola as an independent research project for her science research class. Olivia was honored to have received the Grand Prize at the 2015 Google Science Fair for her project, “Temperature-Independent, Portable, and Rapid Field Detection of Ebola via a Silk-Derived Lateral-Flow System". She first learned about the epidemic through the news and decided that early diagnosis and medical intervention was critical to stopping the exponential growth of the virus. Existing diagnostic protocols were temperature-dependent, expensive, lengthy and complicated. In comparison, the “Ebola Assay Card” (EAC) that Olivia developed encases reagents in a thin silk film, stabilizing them and making them temperature-independent and “breaking the cold chain”, critical in many areas of the world where power may be intermittent or non-existent. The EAC is inexpensive, rapid, and visual, with results indicated through a color change, which eliminates language barriers and increases ease of use.
Like her late grandfather, Olivia hopes one day to become a doctor and researcher and work for an NGO such as Doctors Without Borders, and to see firsthand the hope that science makes possible. Olivia is continuing to develop the Ebola Assay Card further with the goal of seeing it used as a diagnostic for Ebola and other diseases with ELISA-based assays, hoping to make it possible through early diagnosis and treatment to save lives.
Olivia is a competitive swimmer and looks forward to swimming in college, where she plans to pursue her interest in science and medicine. She volunteers with charities involved with maternal and child health which provide nutrition, medical care and support critical to giving young lives the best start possible.
Shah Selbe is an engineer, conservation technologist, and National Geographic Explorer that works with communities, NGOs, and developing countries globally to identify, develop, and deploy technologies that can help stop poaching, overfishing, and some of our greatest conservation challenges. This includes low-cost observation platforms (conservation drones, acoustic sensors, open source sensors, satellite imagery, etc) and better methods to share and manage the data gathered (using mobile technologies, crowdsourcing, the internet). He is also project engineer/technologist for the Okavango Wilderness Project, an ambitious effort to create an open source environmental monitoring mesh network to monitor Botswana’s pristine Okavango Delta. His work in conservation technology has resulted in being honored as a 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalist, 2011 Ocean Exchange Gulfstream Navigator Finalist, 2011 Katerva Award Nominee, 2014 UCR Young Alumni Award, 2015 PopTech Fellow, 2016 Ocean Conservation Fellow and an expert judge for the US State Department's 2016 Fishackathon.
Vice President, Engineering, Google
Pavni is a Vice President of Engineering at Google, leading the company’s initiative to help reimagine Google’s products and programs for kids. Pavni joined Google in 2005, and since then she has been driving efforts to keep Google users safe from threats like spam, phishing/hijacking, and abuse. Prior to joining Google, she was a serial entrepreneur who led successful startups, including MailFrontier which was leader in anti-spam and security space. She also managed the Communication and Client Software division at Excite@Home. She started her career as a Software Engineer at Sun Microsystems, where she was part of the small team that created Java, and personally renowned for inventing Java servlets. Pavni has won numerous entrepreneurship awards and holds several patents in the area of distributed systems and networking.
Pavni holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.