Since 2013, LSU has hosted an independently organized Technology, Entertainment and Design, or TEDx talk.
This year’s theme was Refract, and speakers came from design, engineering, civic hacking and mosquito research to discuss ideas they felt would help advance and grow the Baton Rouge community.
Since the event’s inception, the number of speaker applications has grown, but every year speakers are chosen based on their relevance to the Baton Rouge community at the time.
“We have a list of names to choose from that grows every year,” said Annemarie Galeucia, 36, TEDxLSU co-organizer and speaker coach. “We turn to this list each year and ask ourselves, ‘Is this their year?’ which means, is this the best moment for this idea to be put forth? If we wait on a speaker for a year, their research or idea could have exponentially grown, and would cause a higher impact during a talk. Other times, a speaker comes across our radar at what seems like the most precise, serendipitous moment.”
This year’s talks opened up with Xin Li explaining how he is leading a team of LSU students in his lab in the development of and the first digital platform to perform forensic skeletal restoration and facial reconstruction.
Li touted the potential impacts his research could have on making this manual procedure more efficient and objective, and how it may lead to other computer-assisted data restoration applications, like recreating scenes and even documents.
Jacob Jolibois’ talk on using the concepts of minimalism and subtraction to solve problems, was followed by Ehab Meselhe who spoke about coastal futures. As an engineer, Meselhe is working to blur the boundaries between coastal work and geology, and made the case that along with research and expertise, citizen input is necessary to effectively blend these boundaries.
A talk by LSU student Madelyn Smith on Louisiana communities threatened by land loss and the stories of the people living in them echoed the same need to rethink the way we treat the coast and waterways.
Amber Lavergne, a 21-year-old senior in biology at LSU, was pleased with the need for coastal preservation brought up by the talks.
“I grew up in Korea where they were a little bit more environmentally conscious, so coming here was weird because everyone litters and it’s really hard to get people to recycle,” Lavergne said. “It’s really cool to see them trying to get people more involved with the environment.”
Lavergne has been attending the event with her roommate, 22-year-old geographic information systems senior Chelsey Mora Nickols.
The pair have been attending the event together for the past three years and will graduate in May when they will begin their respective job searches.
The second half of the event introduced ideas from biology, anthropology and art, but one talk focused on events that were kept under wraps for 15 years.
Richard Lipsey, Louisiana businessman and humanitarian, worked as an aide to President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, and the details of the ensuing events were something he was forced to keep under lock and key for 15 years under penalty of federal law.
Lipsey’s talk took place as a fireside chat in which Stacia Haynie, dean of students for the LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, served as the moderator.
Lipsey recounted the grace that first lady Jackie Kennedy displayed while handling the entire situation, affirmed the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone shooter despite conspiracy theories and, most of all, shared his awe and admiration for the slain president.
“He was a great historian, but he also looked to the future and had a vision,” Lipsey said. “He was probably the most brilliant president in our lifetime, and I can only imagine what life would have been like if he had lived.”
Lipsey left the stage to the sound of a standing ovation.
Kevin Harris took the stage next to share an idea about how to change the atmosphere of underserved and struggling communities through art.
Harris is an orthodontist by trade, but also serves as the director of the Museum of Public Art in Old South Baton Rouge and is particularly passionate about aerosol art.
His interest in the art form and revitalizing communities led to his idea of commissioning community murals as a way to stop street artists from tagging walls and even driving away drug lords.
Other talks touted ideas like the benefits of strengthening personal cyber security and why people should consider creating quieter waterways to create healthier fish, but every speaker charged the audience to use their ideas to create change in Baton Rouge and their own communities.
“Each year we are delighted to see how the audience responds to the ideas presented, and we most look forward to hearing how they impact the participants,” Galeucia said. “We most look forward to hearing how these ideas impact the participants, because TEDxLSU is not just a collection of talks, it is an experience. We hope the event fosters a space for creativity, innovation and discussion, because when ideas are discussed, change is possible.”
Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect a corrected name spelling and to change a job description.