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2016 TEDxUTA Speaker Information

Karen McAlister

Presentation: Advocacy Through Social Media: Why Trending Topics Matter

Karen is currently a graduate student in the Department of Communication at UT Arlington.  Her research interests include social media and social movements.  Karen previously completed two Bachelor of Arts degrees from UT Arlington in Communication with emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations.  Currently, Karen works for the Multicultural Affairs department on campus and co-advises the Women in Leadership Program.


Mark McSpadden

Presentation: From Here to There: The Future of Travel

Mark McSpadden is the Director of Sabre Labs, the emerging technology incubator and trends research group within Sabre. In the Lab, he and his team research and experiment with technology and trends like indoor location, wearables, virtual reality, and even unmanned aerial vehicles to explore how they may shape the future of travel.

Mark has shared his passion and vision for the future of travel and technology at national events and travel industry board rooms alike, and in 2013 was selected as one PhocusWright's Young Leaders Class of 35. 

In addition to his travel industry experience, Mark has an extensive technology background in both enterprise and startup environments. He is recognized leader in the programming world and is a sucker for a good code contest. 

Off-screen, Mark enjoys cooking, eating, laughing, playing, and exploring the world with his wife and 3 young daughters.


Vivian Ta

Presentation: Communication in the 21st Century: Is it What You Say, Not How You Say It?

Vivian P. Ta is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Arlington where she conducts research in social and personality psychology. Specifically, her research focuses on examining the role of latent semantic similarity in a variety of interactions, including romantic relationships, friends, strangers, face-to-face interactions, and computer-mediated interactions. She is a fellow of the National Science Foundation's LSAMP BD program, president of UT Arlington's Graduate Student Senate, and a former intern at Match.com.


MD Sahadat Hossain

Presentation: Garbage: Liability or Asset?

Dr. Sahadat Hossain is a Professor of Civil Engineering Department and Director of Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS) at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).  Dr. Hossain has completed his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, India, Master of Engineering in Geotechnical Engineering from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand, and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University (NCSU) at Raleigh, NC, USA. 

Dr. Hossain’s research and scholarship are well recognized nationally and internationally. He is an expert in the design of sustainable waste containment and bioreactor landfill technology. He is working on different aspects of sustainable waste management including bioreactor landfill engineering design and operational practices for last 20 years. At present Dr. Hossain is working on research, development and implementation of innovative solutions for sustainable waste management and to provide support for waste management in USA and developing countries. The major objective of his research is to develop and test innovative, cost-effective and sustainable technologies for sustainable solid waste management systems, including Enhanced Leachate Recirculation (Bioreactor) landfill technology, landfill to gas to energy, utilization of waste materials for sustainable and reusable construction materials, and landfill mining. 


Robert Magnusson

Presentation: Nature-inspired nanophotonics: Butterfly Eureka! moments

Robert Magnusson is the Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He directs the UT-Arlington Nanophotonics Device Group that conducts theoretical and experimental research on periodic nanostructures, nanophotonics, nanoelectronics, nanoplasmonics, and optical bio- and chemical sensors. He is a Fellow of SPIE, the Optical Society, IEEE, and the National Academy of Inventors.


Matt Clark

Presentation: Student Entrepreneurship; at the intersection of creativity, collaboration, and collision

Matt Clark is an artist and Assistant Professor of Practice at UTA. He has had a creative practice for over two decades with professional experience in the museum, gallery and educational arenas. He received a BA Art History from Arizona State University and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is included in over 20 international  corporate collections and has exhibited throughout the US since 2002. He has resided in Santa Fe, Los Angeles, London, and presently, Dallas. As a passionate educator, he has focused on entrepreneurship and how employing entrepreneurial thinking and strategy can help students achieve their potential.


Patti Diou

Presentation: Arts and Culture:  Revitalizing a Downtown

Patti Diou

Executive Director 

Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Arlington

Patti Diou has been the Executive Director of the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion since it opened in 2008.  She earned her theater degree at the University of Texas at Arlington and served as Theatre Arlington’s Executive Director for three years. She was the theater’s marketing director for six years prior to taking the executive director’s position.  Patti serves on the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation Board, the Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, is a member of the Rotary Club of Arlington, the Chamber Women’s Alliance and the Preston Trail DAR.  She is also a graduate of Leadership Arlington and served on the board as the marketing director and on the adult training committee for three years.  

Prior to joining the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Arlington, Patti was vice president of development for the YMCA of Arlington.  In 2012, she received the Legacy of Women Award for Arts from SafeHaven, and in 2014, she received the Leadership Arlington Sally Kallam Award.

She has been married to her husband Emile for 29 years and they have two children, Kristen who is a Play Therapist at SafeHaven, and Cameron who is a senior at TCU.


James Ruedlinger Jr. 

Presentation: The Art of Becoming Lost

James Ruedlinger Jr. is a Junior Communications Major at the University of Texas at Arlington. Beyond his experience in the classroom James has been integrated within almost every process at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has served as an advisor for Freshmen Leaders on Campus; former Interfraternity Council President; recipient of the Most Outstanding Student Leader Award each of his years at the University; and serves as the the Vice President of Student Governance at the University of Texas at Arlington. James continues to serve others and organizations in his community through personal speech and leadership consulting.


Javier Garcia del Moral

Presentation:Why did we add a bar to our bookstore?

 I'm a Spanish civil engineer. In the past 15 years, my career has brought me to work in cities such as Madrid, Dublin, Austin and now Dallas. In 2014 I opened The Wild Detectives, along my business partner Paco Vique, to fulfil a lifelong fondness towards books and bars.


Elizabeth Caudill

Presentation: What's Your Impact?

Elizabeth Caudill currently serves as the Director of Higher Education and Workforce at the Dallas Regional Chamber. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas Christian University and served a year in AmeriCorps VISTA at Northwestern University before earning her Masters of Education in Higher Education Public Policy at Southern Methodist University. She is a current class member of the Dallas Mayor's Star Council, was appointed by Dallas City Councilmember Rickey D. Callahan to serve on the Dallas Community Development Commission, and is an active member in Dallas Young Professionals Policy Committee. When she isn't gushing about Higher Education, she enjoys running, singing as loud as she can at karaoke, and exploring DFW through local breweries.


Jason Roberts


Jason is the founder of the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, founder of the original Better Block Project, co-founder of Art Conspiracy and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, and candidate for US Congress. In 2006, Jason formed the non-profit organization Oak Cliff Transit Authority to revive the Dallas streetcar system, and later spearheaded the city’s effort in garnering a $23 Million dollar TIGER stimulus grant from the FTA to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to Dallas. In 2010, Jason organized a series of “Better Block” projects, taking blighted blocks with vacant properties in Southern Dallas and converting them into temporary walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. The project has now become an international movement and has been featured in the New York Times, Dwell magazine, TED Talks and on NPR. Team Better Block was showcased in the US Pavillion at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

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