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Speaker Spotlight: Keith McGreggor

TEDxsters! Meet Keith McGreggor, director of VentureLab at Georgia Tech and lover of musical string instruments. Keith’s multi-faceted interests and entrepreneurial talents have led him to pioneer a number of areas, and he is now leading the way in understanding Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This year’s theme is “illuminate.” What does “illuminate” mean to you?

To me, illumination is not about light itself, but rather the interplay of light and the world to create meaning.  My research is all about visual perception, and how the ways in which we think about the world determine how we are able to see it, and sense it, and make sense of it. To challenge our perceptions, we must challenge and change our thinking. As an AI researcher, in the business of creating “minds,” that’s why I regard illumination as so important: new illuminations, the ones that come after we set aside our traditional ways of thinking, allow for some rather stunning breakthroughs.

What is your passion?

I’m passionate about AI, my playground for all these years. I’m passionate about entrepreneurs and education. I’m passionate about bluegrass music. But, I’m most passionate about my family…the whole world could and might grind away, but our love for and devotion to each other would endure.

What keeps you centered in this crazy world?

Keith-McGreggor-BanjoThe rare occasions when I can pick up my banjo and play, not for anyone else, but for me. There is something deeply sensual and spiritual about the whole experience: the old leather-musty smell of a just-opened case, the raw scratched memory of old songs on the hide head, the pressure-feel-impact of endless thumb-index-middle right hand variations, the spider-like joy of the left hand fingers moving over old rosewood and pearl, the give of the string and the sharp slur of a well-hit hammer-on, the way the tiny addition of a seventh note brings the resolving promise of the coming chord, the weight of all that wire and wood lifted by a staccato lick, the clean and infinite space between each note, the blueness left on your fingers by the nickel in the picks. It resonates with me.

What is one place you’ve visited that you’ll never forget?

Michele and I visited Cayman Brac in 1987, had to take a little prop plane from Grand Cayman over to the sister islands, 90 low-flown, scary miles across the sea. No taxis or other tourists, just a few hundred inhabitants and us. We explored the small island in a microbus, picking up and letting off folks at polite markets and tidy homes, live produce and all, culminating in a drive through fields of tall sunflowers and a walk to the very heart-stopping edge of the Brac, 150 feet above the wild Caribbean Sea. At the end of the day, we drank cold beer and teased fish with our feet at the end of a dock while waiting to ride the mail plane back. It felt like time stood still. Still does.

What are three words to best describe you?

Always, always learning.

 

It’s September! Don’t forget to get your Early Bird tickets to see Keith and others present at this year’s TEDxPeachtree! You can let Keith know you’ll be coming by tweeting out to @TEDxPeachtree and @KeithMcGreggor.

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Speaker Spotlight: Genna Duberstein

Genna Duberstein, Lead Multimedia Producer for Heliophysics at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, brings art and science together and has been doing commissioned artwork since she was 12 years old. This October, Genna will be speaking at TEDxPeachtree.

Is this your first time speaking at a TEDx event? What are your thoughts on presenting on October 17th?

Yes, this will be my first TEDx event. I’m very excited and honored to be a part of such an amazing group of speakers.

This year’s theme is “illuminate.” What does “illuminate” mean to you?

To me, illumination means finding a new way of understanding. In the most literal sense, my work with the sun is all about illumination. This is not only because the sun is the ultimate illuminating source, but also because my project invites the viewer to experience our very own star in a new way.

Genna Duberstein

Genna Duberstein

At the end of the day, what is it about your work that keeps you going?

I like that science media is mostly happy news. It’s about how we are solving problems and making the world a better place. I like helping people have access to that.

What is your passion?

I love storytelling. I love doing the research and interviews, and deciding what medium is most appropriate for the story. I enjoy the challenge of synthesizing all of that into something someone else can experience.

What is one place you’ve visited that you’ll never forget?

It’s hard to pick just one place!

The Redwood National Park: It is very humbling to walk among living things that are hundreds of years old and over 300 feet high. When you are surrounded in the center of what appears to be circle of trees, it’s actually one tree with a shared root system underground. If you keep that in mind and look up, it’s like standing in the palm of a giant.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be bilingual. I enjoy learning languages, and I can stumble through reading in a number of alphabets, but I still only feel in English.

What is your motto?

“If not now, when?”

 

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Speaker Spotlight: Adam Marcus

Adam Marcus is today’s featured TEDxPeachtree spotlight speaker. An Associate Professor at Emory’s School of Medicine, Dr. Marcus’s lab focuses on cell biology and pharmacology in lung and breast cancer.

Is this your first time speaking at a TEDx event? What are your thoughts on presenting on October 17th?
Yes, this is my first time speaking. I am extremely excited to share some of the major advances that will change the way we treat cancer

At the end of the day, what is it about your work that keeps you going?
My research laboratory is in a building where oncologists see and treat patients. This provides a unique perspective for a scientist, since I am able to see how our research could impact cancer treatment and diagnosis. This motivates and inspires me (and I think my laboratory) to attempt to do research that could ultimately have an impact on cancer patients.

What is your passion?
I have two professional passions. First, I want to contribute to how we treat and diagnose cancer. Even if we could help in a small way, or have someone build upon knowledge we contribute, I would consider my research career a success.

Second, I want to help educate our children in K-12th grade by hands-on STEM based learning. Our organization tries to stimulate critical thinking in students and increase their enthusiasm for the sciences by travelling to classrooms with microscopes. These experiences led me to start a blog that explores a range of topics from education to cancer research.

Adam Marcus, a Collegiate Division III Tennis All-American ranked top 20 in the country, teaching science to high school students

Adam Marcus, a Collegiate Division III Tennis All-American ranked top 20 in the country, teaching science to high school students

What is one place you’ve visited that you’ll never forget?
I remember the first time I took a trip with my family to the Grand Canyon.
I think it made us all feel “small” in a good way and helps put the challenges in life into perspective.

What is your motto?
More of a quote than a motto: “What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.” –John Ruskin

What are three words to best describe you?
Enthusiastic, curious, competitive

Tweet to Adam @notmadscientist. 

 

 

 

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