TEDx Event Featuring Faculty Discussing ‘Interdisciplinary Connections in a Diversifying World’

Thursday, February 01, 2024
TEDx RHIT graphic

山Ƶ’s third TEDx Talks event will feature women faculty members and a visiting Fulbright Scholar discussing topics pertaining to engineering, sustainability, art, science, mathematics, and bringing diversity to STEM.

山Ƶ women faculty members and a visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence will make presentations that spark imagination, promote curiosity, and highlight the topic “Interdisciplinary Connections in a Diversifying World” during TEDx Talks on March 6 from 4-7 p.m. in the college’s Hatfield Hall Theater.   

山Ƶ’s Women Faculty Thriving organization and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging are co-hosting the event. Lead organizers have been English Professor Jessica Livingston, PhD, and Amanda Jo Hobson, PhD, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. The speakers represent six different academic departments at 山Ƶ. 

“Our third TEDx Talk event will feature compelling presentations that embody our institution’s spirit of innovation and have the potential to positively impact our global community. This will be a great way to start the spring quarter,” said 山Ƶ President Robert A. Coons. “I applaud our campus community for arranging an event that provides a platform for our faculty to share their ideas more broadly and bring attention locally and nationally to their creative insights.” 

山Ƶ officials also organized and hosted TEDx Talks in 2017 and 2013. 

This year’s event is free and open to the campus community and the public. The three-hour event includes a reception with all of the speakers in Hatfield Hall. Audience seating is limited to 100 people for the entire session, and those attending should plan on remaining in the theater for the entire three-hour event. Others can view the sessions in the Lake Room of 山Ƶ’s Mussallem Union and can arrive and leave at their pleasure. The speeches will also be recorded and posted on the TEDx Talks YouTube channel.   

Reserve your seat online at .

TEDx events bring people together from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world and the connection with others, while sharing ideas and bridging divides in communities on every continent. 

Featured speakers for this year’s 山Ƶ TEDx Talks and their topics are: 

Engineering In Context

Irene Reizman, PhD, Alfred R. Schmidt Endowed Chair for Excellence in Teaching/Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

In addition to teaching and developing engineering courses, Reizman has mentored more than 40 undergraduate researchers through individual projects and the 山Ƶ International Genetically Engineered Machine competition team. She is currently director of the Rose Research Fellows program and part of a multi-institution project funded by the Kern Family Foundation to enhance the integration of entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate research. Her research encompasses both a technical program, focused on undergraduate projects in synthetic biology, and an engineering education component, examining the impacts of undergraduate research experiences on student mindset and educational outcomes. 

Mathematics as a Necessary Tool for Decision Making

Lucy Muthoni, PhD, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, from Kenya

Muthoni is spending this academic year working in 山Ƶ’s Department of Mathematics on course design, research, teaching, and community engagement. She has taught and used mathematics to solve a myriad of multi-sectoral problems in and outside Kenya for more than 15 years. In Kenya, she works as a senior lecturer of mathematics and actuarial science at the Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Muthoni also is the national patroness of the Actuarial Students Society of Kenya and vice chairperson of the Kenyan Mathematicians Society. She has a Ph.D. in Mathematics, specializing in mathematical finance, with a strong background in actuarial science and risk management.

Sustainability in Education: Preparing Future STEM Practitioners for a Changing World

Jennifer Mueller, PhD, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Mueller’s areas of interest include water quality, sustainable design, watershed hydrology, and river hydraulics. Current projects involve pedagogical studies for incorporating sustainability and ethical decision making in undergraduate engineering education, with an emphasis on touchpoints throughout the four-year curriculum. Mueller especially loves mentoring students through capstone senior design projects, where she emphasizes the need for sustainable design through all phases of the design process. She is also the faculty adviser for the Engineers for a Sustainable World student organization, as well as for academic minors in environmental engineering and sustainability. Mueller is a registered professional engineer in Indiana and an Envision Sustainability Professional. She has served as a mentor for the Engineering for One Planet Mini-Grant Program and previously served as chair of the River Restoration Technical Committee for the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute.

Under Pressure

Soulaf Abas, Associate Professor of Art

Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Abas is equally passionate about making art and teaching it. She believes in art's ability to transform the world around us and to find the light within. Her work navigates the internal and external worlds. In her painting and printmaking, Abas depicts the effects of loss and grief, and she explores the beauty found in these experiences and the environments around her. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She has received numerous residencies and awards for her work from the Social Justice Residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the International Painting Symposium in Luxor, Egypt, along with multiple experiential learning and community engagement grants from Indiana State University. 

Science or Art? Why not both?

Nicole A. Pfiester, PhD, Assistant Professor in Physics and Optical Engineering

Pfiester is an interdisciplinary scientist, with degrees in physics, electrical engineering, and materials science engineering. She has published work on thermophotovoltaics, infrared photodetectors, and optical properties of materials. Her present research interests include creating nanostructured materials with properties not seen in nature to improve the performance of cameras and sensors. Pfiester has received several awards for her work, including selection as a 2020 SPIE International Optics/Photonics Society’s Defense and Commercial Sensing Rising Researcher and a 2020 Mistletoe Research Fellow. She is also passionate about helping undergraduate students pursue their scientific ideas, often delving into nanotechnology production and applications and helping all students, regardless of major field of study, see themselves as scientists.

Making STEM Steamy: Innovative strategies to diversify STEM by using Art

Carlotta A. Berry, PhD, Professor/Lawrence J. Giacoletto Endowed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Berry is an author, researcher, mentor, role model, and prolific speaker. Her research interests are in human-robot interaction and strategies to increase the number of marginalized and minoritized populations pursuing and earning degrees in science and engineering. In 2020, she launched NoireSTEMinist, an educational consultancy and co-founded Black in Engineering and Black in Robotics to bring awareness to systemic racism and inequity in STEM, build community, advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and connect with allies and sponsors. Berry’s innovative strategies to normalize seeing Black women in STEM include performing robot hip hop slam poetry, writing Black STEM Romance novels, creating open-source robots, conducting robotics workshops, and using social media to educate the world about engineering and robotics. These efforts have garnered such honors as American Society of Engineering Education Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Senior Member, IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award, Society of Women Engineers Distinguished Engineering Educator Award, ASEE Distinguished Educator (Electrical and Computer Engineering Division), Open-Source Hardware Trailblazer Fellow, and Grace Hopper Celebration ABIE Award. 

About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is on a mission to discover and spread ideas that spark imagination, embrace possibility and catalyze impact. Our organization is devoted to curiosity, reason, wonder and the pursuit of knowledge — without an agenda. We welcome people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world and connection with others, and we invite everyone to engage with ideas and activate them in your community.

TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, but today it spans a multitude of worldwide communities and initiatives exploring everything from science and business to education, arts and global issues. In addition to the hundreds of TED Talks curated from our annual conferences and published on TED.com, we produce original podcasts, short video series,  and TV programs that are translated into more than 100 languages and distributed via partnerships around the world. Each year, more than 3,000 independently run  bring people together to share ideas and bridge divides in communities on every continent. Through the Audacious Project, TED has helped catalyze more than $3 billion in funding for projects that seek to make the world more beautiful, sustainable and just. In 2020, TED launched Countdown, an initiative to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis and mobilize a movement for a net-zero future. View a full list of .