TEDxOaklandUniversity Speakers

October 23, 2015 – Athletics Center O’rena

Trevor Anulewicz

The Rise of Design and Its Unseen Enemy

Trevor Anulewicz is an award winning designer, experience director, and business leader responsible for driving experience strategy and innovation for the global invention company Vectorform. Leading multiple teams to create extraordinary digital products and experiences, Trevor blends design and business strategy as one of Vectorform’s most innovative minds. He plays an instrumental role in defining Vectorform’s global vision, process and products.


Med Students Make Music!

DocAppella is the cappella choir of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. The group is comprised of musically talented OUWB medical students who have a deep love for music. The group was designed to provide fun and rewarding artistic outlets for medical student members. DocAppella was made as an outlet for medical students to come together and pursue their artistic passions outside of school. The members each have the drive to continue growing as musicians throughout their medical education.

Elaina Farnsworth

Enjoy the ride. An improved way to think about vehicles.

Elaina Farnsworth, is the CEO of Mobile Comply. A recognized expert in the field of connected vehicle education and certification, Elaina has over two decades of experience in supporting technologies and in-field training for emergency responders and transportation safety. Her vision and leadership empowers a unique company that recognizes that the connected vehicle creates an entirely new global paradigm of merging technologies. Her expertise in training and certification launched the only connected vehicle certification program with SAE International and the Connected Vehicle Trade Association. Elaina is a public speaker, writer and thought leader. Elaina’s talent for communicating technical concepts allows her to empower innovative people to change their possibilities in a connected world.

Gregg Garrett

Are you Brave Enough to Connect?

Gregg is currently the CEO and president of CGS Advisors, LLC. For the last 18 years he has pushed the limits of corporate cultures by formulating and implementing unique market-disrupting strategies. He is a visionary leader who prides himself in recognizing commonsense solutions for complex problems and supports “Corporate Bravery” by motivating teams to reach well beyond the typical boundaries to achieve greatness. Prior to launching CGS Advisors, Gregg was the Chief Strategy Officer for IT & Innovation at Volkswagen Group of America. Before his time with VW, Gregg led corporate strategy & marketing for a division of Deutsche Telekom, and was part of Ernst & Young’s Management Consulting practice. Gregg holds an MBA from Michigan State’s Broad School for Executive Management, and a Bachelors of Science in Systems Engineering from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.


INTRIGUE Hip Hop Dance Team was founded on the campus of Oakland University on October 4, 2000. Since its creation, INTRIGUE has dominated the campus of Oakland University being the oldest and most recognized dance team on campus. The purpose of INTRIGUE is to bring unity, diversity, and a sense of sisterhood/brotherhood through the unique expression of dance. Our essential focus is designed to expose the hip-hop culture through the art of dance. It is our duty as members of INTRIGUE to spread the love of the skillful sport to all those who express interest and never lose sight of our goal to promote diversity not only within our team, but in our communities and schools. INTRIGUE is expected to keep this mission alive and experience the pleasure of dancing, learning and TEAMWORK.

Pj Jacokes

Pj Jacokes is the Producer and a Co-owner of Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale, MI. Before opening Go Comedy! in 2008, he was the Head Instructor at The Second City, Detroit. He’s also on the board of the Detroit Improv Collective, who are responsible for the Detroit Improv Festival. Pj’s career has been a wild and unexpected ride. From being a comedy consultant for an adult novelty company to performing as an elf for a holiday app to co-starring in the Hungry Howies “Ad Guys” spots for the last 6 years. Pj has spoken at 3 TEDxDetroit events and a Nerd Night. While Pj frowns upon namedropping, he thinks it’s important to mention that he’s performed with Eminem, 3-time NBA champ and former Detroit Piston Bad Boy, James Edwards and Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall. As a writer, he has co-written over 25 sketch comedy shows, as well as Robocop: The Musical. He has also written TV, web and radio commercials, a television pilot, and two roasts for CEOs of Greater Media.

Ron Kagan

Animal Welfare and the Future of Zoos

Ron Kagan is the Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. An advocate and activist for compassionate conservation and animal welfare, Ron is a leader in environmental and humane education. Over the past thirty years, Ron’s career background includes working and consulting for numerous zoos and aquaria. Ron has authored several papers in scientific journals, encyclopedic entries, and book chapters on both museum and zoological subjects. Mr. Kagan led the development of unique and award-winning facilities including a Gorilla Conservation Research Center, the “Wilds of Africa”, the “Wildlife Interpretive Gallery”, the National Amphibian Conservation Center, the “Arctic Ring of Life” (largest Polar Bear facility in the world), the Ford Education Center, a Humane Science Lab (teaching students and teachers how to study nature without harming animals), the Wild Adventure Simulator (a motion-based cabin simulator that builds empathy for other species as people experience life through animals’ eyes, ears and more) and the soon-to-open Polk Penguin Conservation Center.

Gerald Knight

Gerald Knight is a rock n roll rowdy investor, whose funding birthed GO! Comedy. This successful Theater, in Ferndale, presents live improvised and sketch shows Wednesday through Sunday. Plus a full bar! GO! Also offers an extensive series of improvisational classes and corporate shows. Improv teaches teamwork, trust and confidence in a safe, supportive environment. Huzzah n hurrah!.

Amy Morin

Letting Go of What Holds You Back

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor, and published author. The writer of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy’s bestselling book is being translated into more than 20 languages. Her book stems from her viral article that reached millions of people in a matter of days before being picked up by Forbes.com, where it went to become one of their most read articles of all time with over 10 million views. Amy Morin is a regular contributor to Forbes and Psychology Today. A sought after speaker, Amy loves to share the latest research on resilience and the best strategies for overcoming adversity and building mental muscle.

Marina Morris

Sixty Second Story

Marina Morris was born with cerebral palsy but did not allow society’s perception of “disability” to define her. While Marina accepts what is true in her life she believes that her story goes far beyond what others perceive. Through her own self-discovery, Marina developed five questions that help others to define who they are and tell their story. Coined the “60 second story”, Marina guides others on how to define how incredible their own personal story is simply through challenging themselves to answer five questions. Marina believes that telling one’s story may make a significant impact on that person and those around them.

Mark Ostach

Is your phone turning you into an adrenaline junkie?

Mark Ostach is the Director of Account Services at Skidmore Studio, a creative powerhouse in Detroit and a certified Denison Consultant who helps organizations to understand how their culture impacts their bottom line. A man of many interests, with a bounty of ideas, Mark draws from his background in neuroscience and technology to navigate today’s digital landscape. Specifically, Mark is interested in how are phones impact our biochemistry. Ever experience a sudden panic when you’ve left your phone at home? Find yourself scrolling through Facebook only to find disturbing images and tragic news? Then you’ve probably experienced bursts of what Mark likes to to call, i-Drenaline. His talk will explore a range of social, emotional and cognitive impacts of our mobile phone dependency and provide insights on how to feed your mind, body, and spirit with Digital Nutrition.

Neil Rockind

The Joy of the Jury

Neil Rockind is the founder of Rockind Law, a Michigan-based criminal defense law firm. With over 20 years of experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney and litigator, Neil has a passion for fighting against the growing number of laws he views as encroaching on the civil liberties of Michigan residents. Under Neil’s direction, Rockind Law aggressively pursues justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. Neil has been named among the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Michigan by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. In addition to his case work, Neil serves as a legal expert for WDIV Local 4 News and is a contributing author for Michigan Model Criminal Jury Instructions.

Alex Ruthmann

Designing technologies for creative expression with and for kids

Alex Ruthmann is Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at NYU Steinhardt where he teaches courses at the intersection of music, education, technology, design and entrepreneurship. He leads the NYU Music Experience Design Lab, which connects students and faculty with community and industry partners in researching and designing new technologies and experiences for music making, learning and engagement. At New York University Ruthmann co-developed the Play With Your Music MOOC in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and P2PU. He works collaboratively with student and faculty researchers in the NYU Music and Audio Research Lab on applying user and experience design methods to music technology applications. Active in social media, you can follow his curated posts on music learning, teaching and technology as @alexruthmann on Twitter.

Anne Ruthmann

What Would You Attempt If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

Anne Ruthmann is an Architecture and Interior Design Photographer in New York City. Anne is an Oakland University Alumni, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. While Anne never had a vision for this career path, she learned that her personal version of success was quite different than the models provided by her environment. Pursuing the possibilities outside of traditional opportunities led to a self-created career as a photographer, small business owner, and consultant for other creative entrepreneurs. Her imagery gained international attention by receiving features in publications like Better Homes & Gardens, The Knot, Brides, and PDN as well as winning awards from WPJA and AGWPJA. Her acclaim led to invitations to speak on creative business topics for other photographers.

Dr. Kim B. Serota

Why People Lie

Dr. Kim Serota is a Special Instructor at the Oakland University in the School of Business Administration. Dr. Serota was trained as a social science researcher focusing on persuasion and politics. Throughout his career, Dr. Serota has worked at Ford Motor Company as an Analyst, Volkswagen of America as the Manager of Marketing Research for Porsche, Volkswagen, and Audi, and later joining the marketing research firm Allison-Fisher as Partner and Senior Vice President in charge of European brands. Upon retirement, Dr. Serota started his own marketing consulting firm and returned to teaching at Oakland University. His research program has focused on deceptive communication and deception detection.

Richard Stamps

Richard Stamps is a retired Oakland University faculty member with over 37 years of service at the university. Growing up in a multi-ethnic community in California, at the age of 19 Richard embarked on his first Mormon missionary trip travelling to Asia. That initial trip was over 53 years ago and he has returned 23 times over his lifetime, spending the last seven years residing there. Trained as an Anthropologist/Archaeologist with a focus on China, Richard views people and cultures in a holistic way. He has been married to his lovely and supportive wife Marsha for 49 years.

Take Root

“Connecting Through Take Root”

Take Root is a professional contemporary modern dance company co-founded and directed by OU dance faculty Thayer Jonutz and Ali Woerner. Take Root commands attention with their intricate partnering, thought provoking details, and unrestricted vision. Take Root’s kinesthetic connections to one another and their audiences creates thoughtful and visceral works of art. Appreciating the many facets of art, the company thrives on collaboration and untraditional spaces.The company’s mission is to “connect” through movement with as many individuals in as many diverse circles as possible.

Ara Topouzian

Guardians of Music: Armenian Music in Detroit, 100 Years Later

Ara Topouzian is an Armenian-American musician whose proficiency at the kanun (Middle Eastern harp) has made him a nationally-recognized artist. Ara has performed in concerts, music festivals, and at many celebrated venues across the United States. Topouzian’s traditional musical style keeps to his Armenian heritage but has expanded to include music from around the Middle East, as well as jazz, fusion, new age, and blues. The recipient of numerous awards, his music has been heard and sold around the globe. In 2012, Topouzian won the Kresge Artist Fellowship, awarded by the Kresge Arts of Detroit, followed by the Knight Arts Challenge from the Knight Foundation awarded in 2013, and most recently Ara produced the film documentary, Guardians of Music: A History of Armenian Music in Detroit.

Lisa L. M. Welling

It’s not you, it’s my hormones: The influence of testosterone on romantic partner preferences

Dr. Lisa Welling is an Assistant Professor at Oakland University. Her Ph.D., entitled Individual Differences in Face Preferences, was completed in 2008 and was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Grounded in evolutionary reasoning, Dr. Welling’s research generally surrounds three related areas: hormonal influences on behavior, sources of adaptive mate preferences, and interpersonal relationships. In addition to having co-edited a book entitled Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychology, Dr. Welling has published five book chapters and more than fifty scientific journal articles. Her research has been featured in the media multiple times on programs including lthe Oprah Winfrey Show and the Discovery Channel documentary Curiosity.