University of South Carolina

Carolina nine to share their TEDx-cellence

By Peggy Binette,, 803-777-7704 and Steven Powell,, 803-777-1923

This year’s lineup of high-energy, innovative speakers for TEDxColumbiaSC will feature nine members of the Carolina community whose talks will range from nanoscience to philanthropy. 

The USC faculty, staff and students who will speak during the Jan. 21 event were chosen from more than 100 nominees, who comprised innovative artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators and business leaders as exemplifying the TED platform of “ideas worth spreading.”

TED is a nonprofit organization that supports world-changing visions through conferences featuring innovative thinkers and doers who share their ideas in an 18-minute talk. TEDx is the concept realized at the local level, with independent TED-inspired events taking place throughout the world.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to participate and share my work with an enthusiastic audience,” said Chris Robinson, associate professor of studio art at USC. “TED talks have always fascinated me. I frequently watch and show them in my classes and enjoy the creative innovation – sincere people helping us to explore and expand our horizons and better understand our world.”

The January event marks Columbia’s second TEDx event. In addition to the live speakers, the event will feature video TEDTalks to spark conversation and imagination.

Visit the TEDxColumbiaSC Facebook page, Twitter or search for TEDxColumbiaSC on YouTube.

Meet USC’s TEDxColumbiaSC team

Pedro De Abreu, 23

Pedro_De_AbreuJunior from Brasilia, Brazil, majoring in economics, management and organizational leadership

Talk: Checkmate

“I received a chess set when I was 15 from a cousin of mine while I lived in Brazil. That changed my outlook on life as I started to think more strategically and also improved my grades. When I moved to America, I thought, ‘Why not offer this life-changing game to other students and see if it will have the same impact on them as it has had on me?’ To this end, I founded the Check Mate Foundation. We have been teaching chess and valuable leadership skills to elementary school students in the Midlands since 2010.

Chase Mizzell, 19

Chase_MizzellJunior from Charleston, majoring in international business and finance; student government vice president

Talk: Social Entrepreneurship That Works

“I have been an entrepreneur for a number of years and have begun to discover the unique ways that entrepreneurial principles can be applied to social and humanitarian pursuits in order to yield higher efficacy and sustainability. This has been poignantly demonstrated to me through my creation of the Second Servings food donation program and all of the entrepreneurial processes I applied in order to make it successful.”

Carl Wells, 49

Carl_WellsAssistant director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs

Talk: The Lines Have Moved, The Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled

“Forty years ago, the Census Bureau began predicting the rapidly changing demographics of America, which would eventually result in racial minorities constituting the majority. That prophecy has been fulfilled; however, the general American populace is unprepared to deal with the reality of diversity in America. My presentation will outline some of my personal strategies for living, working and succeeding in a world wherein the lines have moved, the hues have darkened and the prophecy has been fulfilled.”

Erica Gibson, 35, and Julie Smithwick, 37

Gibson: Assistant professor in anthropology and in women’s and gender studies; Smithwick: Executive director of PASOs, Arnold School of Public Health.

Talk: Searching for the American Dream in South Carolina: Reproductive Health Challenges and Opportunities

TEDx_Erica_GibsonGibson: “I wanted to give this talk to show that women in South Carolina do care about our reproductive health. Also, different women face different challenges related to reproductive care. I will be highlighting my research among women of Mexican origin in South Carolina.”

Julie SmithwickSmithwick: “Through our community-based work in PASOs, I have had the opportunity to see the Latino immigrant population in an entirely different light than most people see them, and I’m excited to share this perspective with the world.”

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, 40

Claudia_Benitez_NelsonDirector of USC’s Marine Science Program

Talk: The impact the university has on Columbia beyond the classroom.

“This is a great opportunity to expose as many people as possible to what we have here. I don’t think people realize the benefits of having such a fabulous university right here in Columbia. Most people don’t even realize that we have one of the best marine science programs in the country.”

Jamie Lead

Jamie_LeadCarolina SmartState endowed chair of environmental nanoscience and risk assessment

Talk: Benefits and Risks of Nanotechnology: A Case Study of Nanomedicine and the Environment

“It is important, where possible, for scientists to give society a picture of science in theory and practice. Given the world we live in is so dominated by science and its technological fruits, it is important to explore the impacts, benefits and limitation of science and technology and to hold a discussion of these issues with the wider public.”

 Chris Robinson, 61

Chris_RobinsonAssociate professor of studio art

Talk: Seeing the Unseen

“I will talk about the artist's role, the relationship between art and science and how visual thinking and images can help to mediate an increasingly complex world. My recent work has been in nanotechnology and I will provide some insight to the myriad mysteries of the quantum realm.”

 J.J. Shepherd, 27

JJ_ShepherdDoctoral candidate in computer science

Talk: How video games should be taken seriously as a research field, a rehabilitation aid and an art form

“I want to give this talk to spread the message that games are not just a ‘kid’s toy,’ but are a unique medium that combines art and science into one artifact. These artifacts can not only entertain, but also teach us, train us and evoke new ideas that no other medium has ever been able to do.”

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 11/20/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 11/30/12 @ 12:54 PM | Permalink

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