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Social distance with these 5 TED talks from Society alumni

By Wendy Li

Society alumni from left to right: Twila Moon, Sheel Tyle, Kashfia Rahman, Brian Wu and Deepika Kurup.
Society alumni from left to right: Twila Moon, Sheel Tyle, Kashfia Rahman, Brian Wu and Deepika Kurup. Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public.

As we all do our part in stopping the spread of the coronavirus by appropriate social distancing, we are turning to the internet for education resources and entertainment to help pass the time. How about some science inspiration to throw into the mix? Below are five TED talks from Society alumni you might want to check out between other activities. When you’re done, you can also stay up to date on COVID-19 with coverage from Science News. Stay safe and science on!

Deepika Kurup (ISEF 2015)

Deepika spoke at TedWomen in 2016 about her research in developing a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to purify water. She was inspired by her family trips to India and encounters with people who did not have access to clean water. As a young researcher, she did not let her age hinder her scientific pursuits, turning her kitchen and garage into makeshift laboratories.

Twila Moon (ISEF 1996, 1998-1999)

Speaking at TEDxBigSky in 2019, alumna Twila shed light on what actions we can take to curb climate change and its negative impact on the Earth’s ice. Twila is a research scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology to offer her expertise on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Kashfia Rahman (BCM 2013; ISEF 2015, 2017; STS 2018)

At a Ted Salon event in 2019, Kashfia spoke about her research, looking at how risk-taking behavior can impact teenagers’ brains. Habituation, a psychological learning process where a person becomes less sensitive to or “gets used to” a stimulus, was the basis of her experimental design to understand how high school students respond to and get used to risk, and how it changes their developing brains. Her work won her the First Award of $3,000 in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Category at ISEF 2017.

Sheel Tyle (DCYSC 2005; ISEF 2006-2008)

In 2011, the Society’s National Leadership Council member Sheel Tyle spoke at TEDxTeen about business innovation. Drawing upon numerous historical examples and his own experience as an innovator, he elaborated on the importance of having a “big picture” perspective, as opposed to being nearsighted, when devising solutions to solve grand problems. Sheel is the Founder and CEO of Amplo, a global venture capital firm that helps “build companies that matter.”

Brian Wu (ISEF 2018-2019, STS 2020)

At TEDxJacksonville in 2018, Brian spoke about his research that led him to discover a circumbinary planet—a planet that orbits two stars instead of one. His work earned him a $5,000 ISEF 2019 Special Award from NASA. Brian’s ultimate goal is to transform humanity into an interplanetary species.