Sasha Strauss at TEDxUCI
UC Irvine alumnus Sasha Strauss speaks about branding at the inaugural TEDxUCIrvine event in 2011, themed “Under Construction Indefinitely.” TEDxUC Irvine

Jose Luis Ramos is a campus tour guide, sharing with visitors the great opportunities UC Irvine affords in myriad fields, from the arts to the sciences.

Seeing the university’s great diversity, the senior in civil engineering sought a way to bring these divergent voices together, and he found it in TED.

Ramos helped bring the popular conference program to campus in 2011, and now – as executive director of TEDxUCIrvine – he’s seeing his vision come together with a May 31 event focused on “The Adventure of Discovery.”

“There are people in the lab and out in the world who are engaged in discovery, and I want to share that adventure at this year’s TEDxUCIrvine,” Ramos says.

The Saturday afternoon program will feature talks by globally renowned neurobiologists and engineers, presentations by cutting-edge artists and innovative theater performances. The roster includes:

  • Mark Bachman, UC Irvine assistant professor of electrical engineering & computer science and associate director of the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility.
  • Jeremy Charles Hohn, a senior drama major at UC Irvine.
  • Marc Madou, UC Irvine Chancellor’s Professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering and one of the world’s leading experts on miniscule biomechanical devices.
  • Richard Matthew, associate professor of planning, policy & design and director of UC Irvine’s Center for Unconventional Security Affairs.
  • James McGaugh, UC Irvine research professor of neurobiology & behavior who is internationally recognized for breakthrough studies on learning and memory.
  • Bill Tomlinson, UC Irvine professor of informatics who researches the social effects of information technologies.
  • Angelia Trinidad, a Los Angeles-based artist and entrepreneur.
  • Sama Wareh, an Orange County-based artist whose work is inspired by the environment, mythology, Native American culture, Bedouins and social justice.
  • Sharine Wittkopp, a UC Irvine graduate student in environmental toxicology who explores the links between cardiovascular health and air pollution exposure.
  • Michael Yassa, UC Irvine assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior who studies how the brain learns and retrieves information and how these mechanisms are altered by aging and neuropsychiatric disease.

“The goal of TED talks is both interesting and important,” McGaugh says. “I hope that with my talk, the audience will learn – or relearn – that science is simply about problem-solving, trying to understand how things work – in my case, with memory.”

Demystifying the scientific process of discovery is a key aim of TEDxUCIrvine 2014. Madou, for instance, will discuss how a simple compact disc player can be used as a centrifuge, microscope and medical diagnostic tool. “I like to bring joy to people by helping them understand things they did not know or understand before,” he says.

“It’s exciting to be part of TEDxUCIrvine and to have a platform with such a potentially wide reach for spreading a set of ideas,” says Tomlinson, who’ll talk about how information technology will be instrumental in efforts to address global human issues.

Ramos, who is hosting his final TEDxUCIrvine before graduating, hopes the effect of the program doesn’t fade after the audience leaves. “I really believe it’s important to take the energy out of that room and apply it to our everyday lives,” he says.

TED is a nonprofit endeavor to disseminate worthwhile ideas. It started in 1984 as a conference for people in technology, entertainment and design. Since then, it has broadened its scope and inspired local, independently run TEDx events that promote deep discussion and connection at the community level.

TEDxUCIrvine will be held in the Calit2 building from 1-6 p.m. Saturday, May 31. For ticket information, click here.