TEDxFurmanU 2020 Vision

Dr. Megan Squire

 Dr. Megan Squire is a Computer Science Professor at Elon University who has focused lately on the online presence of extremist and hate groups. In particular she has studied how radical right extremist communities organize online, everything from the Unite the Right (Charlottesville) being organized on Facebook, to how the alt-right uses women to organize, to how the Christchurch & Halle, to how Germany shooters live streamed their killings. She has used her training in data science to understand the phenomenon of online radicalization and the growth of right-wing extremist communities in online spaces. This talk will explore how social network analysis, text mining, and machine learning can be used to understand this fast-moving, complex socio-technical phenomenon.

Dr. Tim Christensen

Dr. Tim Christensen is a Molecular Biologist and Associate Professor at East Carolina University and an avid amateur astrophotographer. His talk will be about the intersection of Science and photography. Bringing in some of his work as an astrophotographer, Dr. Christensen will discuss how photography helps us understand ourselves and our relationship to the universe around us.

Craig Metcalf, MSN, RN, E-RYT

Craig Metcalf is a Registered Nurse (MSN, RN) and Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) from South Carolina. He believes that “Health is Our Greatest Wealth” and hopes to inspire others to take an active role in their own health and wellness. By taking an active role in our own lives, we can decrease the incidence of preventable chronic diseases, such as heart disease, help to lower healthcare costs over time, and foster a happier and healthier community-at-large. 


Johanna Toruño

Johanna Toruño is a visual artist in New York City. She is founder and creative director of “The Unapologetic Street Series,” a series of artwork that pays homage to brown and black women in an open-air, free exhibit. Johanna utilizes public space for story telling through a queer migrant lens and in her talk will share the importance of documenting queer stories, revolutionizing public art, and what it means to pass healing tools down generational lines.

Sam Donaldson

Samantha Donaldson comes from a long line of public servants and had the opportunity to serve in government at the beginning of her public relations career in Washington D.C. Now as the vice president for communications at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to making the federal government more effective, Samantha gets to tell the stories of our nation’s public servants – the men and women who are defending the homeland, protecting the environment, making scientific and medical discoveries, responding to natural disasters, and assisting Americans in need. Come hear this proud Furman University alum bust some common misconceptions of our federal workforce and learn more about the ways their work is making a difference here at home and abroad.

Mary Sturgill

Kindness in the Midst of Chaos – while covering the Charlotte riots in 2016, my photographer and I were attacked.  But we were saved by two women. In the past three years I struggled with and overcame trauma through kindness and acceptance of myself. I used the kindness in the midst of chaos as a guiding mantra that began with those 2 women. That mantra lead me back to tools I had been using my whole life for which I had made an acronym… The SCAR…  SCAR stands for strength, care, affirmations and repeat

Kenia Flores

Kenia Flores is a senior Politics & International Affairs major at Furman from Charlotte, North Carolina. She is passionate about law and public policy and is a team member on the Richard W. Riley Advance Team at Furman. She is also a Furman Fellow and a member of Senior Order Honor Society. Kenia has been blind since birth, and she considers it to be a mere inconvenience just like anything else—not the tragedy many believe it to be. She is a leader in the National Federation of the Blind, the largest organization of blind people in the United States. She has the honor of serving as 2nd Vice President of the National Association of Blind Students, a position that allows her to educate, mentor, and lead students across the nation. In her free time, Kenia can be found in Washington, DC advocating in the halls of Congress for equal access for people with disabilities.

Although Kenia has been blind her entire life, she does not allow that characteristic to define her or her future. She will be talking about her personal experiences with blindness and how she has risen above low expectations in a world where she is either considered worthy of pity or an inspiration for simply living the life she wants.

Jackie Faustin

Jackie Faustin is a junior Communications and Economics double major at Furman. Outside of class she serves as Furman University Student Activities Board Vice President, Furman University Admissions Ambassador, Shucker Leadership Institute Strengths Ambassador, and founder of J.Faustin Original (a media planning, branding, & coordination freelance company). Her parents are both entrepreneurs, and she aspires to be a leader in that capacity as well one day. She strongly believes that she is never done learning or growing and she’s just as grateful for every failure she is for every success. She lives by the words “choose kindness and laugh often.” Never presenting a problem without a solution, Jackie intends to leave her mark on this world, making an income while making societal impact, just after she has her morning coffee. Her TEDx talk will cover Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom as she strongly believes that emotional intelligence is just as important as academic intelligence.

Hailey Pierce

Hailey Pierce is a senior English major and Film Studies minor at Furman. She has spent almost all of her life reading and watching movies, making up her own stories and telling them to others. Recently, she have been studying the transformative power of writing as an important facet of education and as a developing factor of identity, empathy, and self-expression. Her talk will focus on her experience in teaching Creative Writing to twelve inmates at Perry Correctional Institution and the importance of prison education as a whole.

Dr. Lorenzo Barberis

Dr. Lorenzo Barberis is the CEO of his own artificial intelligence company. He recently completed his Ph.D. at Clemson University where he built a machine that predicts any pattern you can find in the economy. Dr. Barberis has won many awards, runs one of Clemson’s best AI technology, and conducts research in Human-computer Interaction, Computing in Mathematics, Game Theory and Artificial Intelligence. His TEDx talk will be about collective intelligence (the wisdom of the crowd) and how it relates to diversity (combining diverse viewpoints is what enables collective intelligence), politics (political echo chambers lead to bubbles), and the development of AI (how collective intelligence can be the input to artificial intelligence to achieve a higher form of hybrid intelligence).