College to host its first TEDx conference

Publication Date

A lineup featuring faculty, staff, students, alumni and guest speakers will lead lectures during the inaugural TEDx Union College event.

A community version of the popular TED Talks program, the conference will take place Saturday, May 26, from noon to 5 p.m. in Olin 115.

The theme of the conference is “Imagination to Innovation.”

“We are excited to host Union’s first-ever TEDx conference to bring different perspectives together and allow people to meet and share ideas,” said Talha Janjua ’19, one of the lead organizers of the event along with Abdelrahman ElAmin '21.

Planning for the conference began months ago, with a team of 35 students working with a number of faculty and staff advisers, including Megan M. Ferry, associate professor of Chinese and Asian Studies/and chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department; Nicole A. Theodosiou, associate professor and co-director of biochemistry; Anastasia G. Pease, senior lecturer, English Department; Chad R. Orzel, the R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics and director of Undergraduate Research; and Gretchel Hathaway, dean of diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

The group invited interested speakers to audition with a brief talk on their topic. More than two dozen people signed up, and from that, 11 were selected for the conference.

The speakers:

Les Trachtman '77, managing director of Purview

Jenny M. Lippmann '03, MJ Engineering & Land Surveying, P.C.

Jermaine M. Wells, Learning Environments Services coordinator

Catherine D. Walker, visiting assistant professor, Psychology Department

Nicole A. Theodosiou, associate professor and co-director of biochemistry

Ashok Ramasubramanian - associate professor, mechanical engineering

Aaron Wu '20

Sahil Khullar '19

Non-Union speakers:

Carly Sotas, development design coordinator, Pencils of Promise

Ray Brescia, professor of law, Albany Law School

John P. Forsyth, professor of psychology and director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program, University at Albany

A ticket is required for admission to the conference, which is free. Attendance is limited to 100. A signup will be held all next week in Reamer during common lunch.

Videos of all the talks will be uploaded on Youtube and shared on the group’s Facebook page.

Organizers hope the TEDx conference becomes an annual event at Union.

Some of the best talks from TEDx events have gone on to be featured on and attracted millions of views from audiences around the world.

“TED not only brings people from all walks of life together, but also enables them to share ideas and address issues of today and work toward shaping the future, together,” said Janjua. “The goal is to host TEDx conferences at Union every year focused on different themes.”

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading” delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks (18 minutes or less) are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available free on

Union’s TEDx event is funded in part through an Intellectual Enrichment Grant and Speakers Forum.