Anousheh Ansari is co-founder, chairwoman, and chief executive officer of Prodea Systems, an innovative Internet of Things platform that connects people, data, and devices. As she launched her new company in 2006, she blasted off for an 11-day space expedition and captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer, the first astronaut of Iranian descent, and the first Muslim woman and fourth private explorer to visit space. This was the accomplishment of her childhood dream. As a successful serial entrepreneur and active proponent of world-changing technologies, she and her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million cash award that ignited a new era in private space industries. Ansari has published her memoirs, titled “My Dream of Stars,” to use her life story to inspire young woman around the world. She is a board member of the X Prize Foundation and a Vision Circle member. She is a UNESCO Good Will Ambassador and serves on the board of The Peace First and Museum of Mathematics, as well as several other not-for-profit organizations focused on STEM education and youth empowerment. She currently works to enable social entrepreneurs to bring about radical change globally, with organizations such as ASHOKA, which supports social entrepreneurship around the world. Ansari holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University; a master’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University; and honorary doctorates from George Mason University, Utah Valley University, and the International Space University.
Atul Gawande MD, MPH, is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is professor in both the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs , a joint center for health systems innovation, and also chairman of Lifebox , a nonprofit making surgery safer globally. He is the author of four best-selling books, including his most recent Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. In addition, he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine since 1998.
After noticing his school's littering problem in the 5th grade, Charles Orgbon III began leading school-based community beautification projects. He quickly realized that the environmental movement was not adequately supporting young environmental changemakers, so he created Greening Forward. Today, Greening Forward has distributed tens of thousands of dollars in funding to youth environmental projects that plant trees, build compost bins, install rain barrels, monitor streams, recycle tons of waste and advocate for a number of other environmental issues. Greening Forward also has planned International Young Environmentalists Youth Summits. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has dedicated a piece of the Power of Children permanent exhibit to commemorate Orgdon’s efforts and to inspire more young people to make a positive difference in the world. Recently, Orgdon returned from an Arctic Climate Science Expedition that will inform his undergraduate research at the University of Georgia. He aspires to graduate in May 2017 with a degree in environmental economics and management and pursue a career in corporate social responsibility.
Dava Newman is deputy administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, responsible for articulating the agency's vision and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal and other appropriate government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities. Prior to her tenure with NASA, Newman was the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her expertise is in multidisciplinary research that encompasses aerospace biomedical engineering. Newman's research studies were carried out through space flight experiments, ground-based simulations and mathematical modeling. Her latest research efforts include advanced space suit design, dynamics and control of astronaut motion, mission analysis, and engineering systems design and policy analysis. She also had ongoing efforts in assistive technologies to augment human locomotion on Earth. Newman is the author of “Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design,” an introductory engineering textbook. She also has published more than 250 papers in journals and refereed conferences.
Alexis Chidi is a student in the Medical Scientist Training program of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. She recently earned a Ph.D. in clinical and translational science, examining health disparities and cost-effectiveness of treatments for chronic liver disease and liver cancer. She continues to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center and VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. Chidi also holds a master's degree in health policy and has work experience in the global health and pharmaceutical industries. She has published nine papers, presented her work at multiple national meetings, and received awards from the Association for Academic Surgery and American Medical Association (AMA). She has served as a delegate to the AMA and as an active member of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Chidi aspires to practice as a surgeon while conducting research and influencing policy to improve the effectiveness and reach of health efforts for underserved populations.
Dr. Erika Wagner serves as business development manager for Blue Origin, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as senior director of exploration prize development and was founding executive director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as science director and executive director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative to investigate the physiological effects of reduced gravity. From 2009 to 2012, Wagner was a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, furthering the research and education potential of commercial suborbital launch vehicles. She currently serves on the boards of the Washington Aerospace Scholars and American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, as well as the National Academies Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space. Wagner has an interdisciplinary academic background, having earned a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a PhD in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She also is an alumna of the International Space University.
Kafui Dzirasa is the first African-American to complete a Ph.D. in neurobiology at Duke University. His research interests focus on using neural technology to understand how changes in the brain produce neurological and mental illness. In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Dzirasa, who also holds a medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine, is an assistant professor and psychiatry house staff member at Duke. He is a product of the nationally renowned Meyerhoff Scholarship program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he was conference champion in the long jump, an Academic All-American and student body president. He has served on the board of directors of the Student National Medical Association, an organization dedicated to the eradication of health care disparities. Through his service, Dzirasa has participated in numerous programs geared toward exposing youth to science and technology and providing health education for underserved communities. He was recognized as one of Ebony magazine’s 30 Young Leaders of the Future and holds the International Mental Health Research Organization Rising Star Award. His laboratory was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2011.
Patrick Gallagher has served as the University of Pittsburgh’s 18th chancellor since August 2014, working to advance the university’s legacy of academic excellence, collaboration and research innovation. Prior to his installation at Pitt, Gallagher spent more than two decades in public service. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology. While in this role, Gallagher also acted as deputy secretary of commerce. Gallagher is one of 12 inaugural members appointed by the president to serve on the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He also is active on a number of community boards, including the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Internet2 and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Gallagher holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Benedictine College in Kansas.
Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.
His story is the American story — values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.
With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton's army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank.
After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, President Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants.
He went on to attend law school, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Upon graduation, he returned to Chicago to help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remain active in his community.
President Obama's years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose. In the Illinois State Senate, he passed the first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. As a United States Senator, he reached across the aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the world's most dangerous weapons, and bring transparency to government by putting federal spending online.
He was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009. After being re-elected in 2012, President Obama is currently serving his second and final term, which will end in January 2017.
President Obama and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Raj Chetty is a professor of economics at Stanford University. Chetty's research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on tax policy, unemployment insurance, and education has been widely cited by media outlets and in Congressional testimony. His current research focuses on equality of opportunity: How can we give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better chances of succeeding? Chetty is a recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship and the John Bates Clark medal, which is given by the American Economic Association to the best American economist under age 40. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2003 at the age of 23. A professor at University of California, Berkeley until 2009, Chetty returned to Harvard as one of the youngest tenured professors in the University’s history. Chetty has been with the Department of Economics at Stanford University since 2015.
Riccardo Sabatini applies his expertise in numerical modeling to projects ranging from material science to computational genomics and food market predictions. In the past he has served as director of FoodCAST (a European Union research project on food commodity markets forecasting), a founding member of Aiida and Quantum ESPRESSO (the largest open source suite for quantum modeling of materials), and co-director and faculty member at the Master in Complex Actions. He's an angel investor and board member for several startups in the field of artificial intelligence. Sabatini recently joined the research team of Human Longevity, Inc., working on machine learning applied to genomics and health. He is a speaker at international events and conferences, including TED Global 2016, an author in top-ranking scientific journals, a consultant for Fortune500 companies, an inventor in several patents in IT, and an adviser and supporter of the Human Code Foundation, a nonprofit charity supporting artists and researchers around the globe to disseminate the scientific knowledge around genomics and health.
Robert Capps is head of editorial at WIRED, where he oversees editorial for all platforms, including the magazine, WIRED.com and live events. In his 11-year career at WIRED he has garnered 12 National Magazine Award nominations, spearheaded the programing for multiple live events (including the WIRED Business Conference, the WIRED Data | Life health conference, and the WIRED x Design creativity retreat), managed large multimedia projects for the web, edited award-winning magazine features and run every part of the print publication. His 2009 article “Why Things Fail” won the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and his article “The Good Enough Revolution” was discussed in publications ranging from the Economist to The New Yorker, and was noted by The New York Times as one of the big ideas of the year.
Roman Mars is the host and creator of “99% Invisible,” a short radio show about design and architecture. Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in 2013. He was a TED main stage speaker in 2015, and his talk is currently the most popular Ted Talk about design with more than 3.5 million views. His crowdfunding campaigns have raised over $1.16 million, making him the highest-funded journalist in Kickstarter history. He also is a co-founder of Radiotopia, a collective of groundbreaking story-driven podcasts.
Subra Suresh is the ninth president of Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, he served as director of the National Science Foundation, a $7 billion independent federal agency charged with advancing all fields of fundamental science and engineering research and related education. A distinguished engineer and scientist, Suresh is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Suresh previously served as dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research into the properties of engineered and biological materials, and their connections to human diseases, has resulted in more than 300 research articles, 25 patent applications and three books. At Carnegie Mellon, Suresh has led the establishment of several major programs and initiatives, including the Simon Initiative to enhance the impact of technology-enhanced learning, BrainHub to further CMU’s interdisciplinary strengths to advance brain research, the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and the Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships program.
Tim O’Reilly has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term "open source software" was agreed on, and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how "Web 2.0" represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot com bust, but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his "Gov 2.0 Summit," he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the Federal, State, and local level, and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of the on-demand economy, AI,robotics, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the economy. He is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, and a partner at early stage venture firm O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV). He is also on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O'Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox.
Cellist and composer Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music. Keating is known for both her use of technology, which she uses to sample her cello onstage, and for her DIY approach, releasing her music online without the help of a record label. Her self-released albums have reached #1 on the iTunes classical chart several times, she has over 1 million followers on Twitter and her grassroots approach and artists' advocacy has garnered her much public attention and press. She serves as a governor for the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy, was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serves on the boards of the Magik Magik Orchestra and CASH Music, a nonprofit organization that builds open source digital tools for musicians and labels. She is a trustee of the World Economic Forum's Future of the Internet Initiative. In 2014, her husband, Jeffrey Rusch, was diagnosed with stage IV non-smoker's lung cancer. While she halted her music career to care for him and their four-year old son, their struggles with health care and insurance became the new subject of her blog. Rusch died in 2015 and Keating continues to advocate on his behalf for patients, data portability and the simplification of medical insurance.