Larry Smarr, Ph.D.

One of the brightest minds of our time, a true Renaissance man and internationally revered,  Dr. Larry Smarr is the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego / UC Irvine partnership. He is the Harry E. Gruber professor in UCSD’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Before that, he served as founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He advises NASA, NIH, DOE and NSF. His views have been quoted in Science, Nature, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Wired, Fortune, Business Week, CNN, and the Atlantic. His personal interests include growing orchids, snorkeling coral reefs and quantifying the state of his body. He is a respected and recognized expert in astrophysical sciences, computer science and engineering, bioinformatics, genomic medicine, climate change and marine biology. You can follow him on his life-streaming portal at

LEGO Design Team

Mandy Jouan once built a 15-foot-tall Sock Monkey named Buttons, who spent a large portion of his life living in her parent’s garage. Buttons lived amongst friends though, as Mandy has been bringing creatures of all shapes and sizes to life since she could figure out how to use art materials, which was pretty much the day she was born. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, and currently is a LEGO Model Designer for Merlin Entertainments, which means, yes, she gets paid to play with toys all day. In addition to being a LEGO Nerd, she started her own business, Sappymoosetree, in 2006, selling designer toys and bacon-themed goofiness. Follow Mandy at and on Facebook:

Andy Grubb has been designing LEGO models and miniature LEGO cities for Merlin Entertainments since 2007, and has worked on projects for LEGOLAND attractions in six cities, across two continents, with even more to come. Before joining LEGOLAND, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Stanford University and spent two years as a Congressional staffer — proving that creativity, passion, a life-long love of LEGO can take you places you never expected.

After studying art and design at UCLA, Megan Correnti found a new medium: the LEGO brick. Working with all those crazy LEGO model builders and designers at LEGOLAND Studios Carlsbad, she has been a part of projects that have gone all over the globe. From tiny figures to towers over 31 feet high, it’s all about thinking outside the brick.

Andrew Slack

Andrew Slack is co-founder and executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA). Under his leadership, the HPA has sent five cargo planes to Haiti, built libraries across the world, advocated for human rights, media reform and equality on LGBT, immigration and class. He has served as keynote speaker at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, delivered a TEDx talk in Rome, been featured in the New York Times and the front cover of He has written for the Los Angeles Times and a cover story for In his prior career, Andrew performed comedy at hundreds of colleges, taught acting workshops, and produced online videos.

Jeffrey Zlotnik

Founder and executive director of The Meditation Initiative, Jeffrey Zlotnik has been leading meditation since 2003, sitting with more than 10,000 people. He began meditating in 1996 while receiving his BA in psychology at the University of Arizona. Jeffrey worked at a Group Home for adolescents and noticed tremendous change in their attitude after meditation. Jeffrey also worked at the Polinsky Children’s Center in 1996. He has a background in consulting working with SAP, Siebel, Oracle and RDR, in addition to coaching youth baseball for 15 years. He has led meditation for Homeless Teens at The Monarch School, Public High Schools such as Morse, Lincoln and Crawford, Albert Einstein Academy, East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, San Diego Central Jail, Second Chance, Las Colinas Women’s Prison, Navy Medical Center, Point Loma Naval Base with Wounded Warriors, UCSD, South Bay Community Services, Susan G. Komen, Braille Institute, KPBS and Jewish Family Services.

Ben Wynne

Ben Wynne sees 3-D technology as engineering “magic,” bounding with the potential to not only astound the world, but to change it. He believes that conventional wisdom should be challenged at nearly every step, and that scientists’ imagination and creativity are the keys to unlocking technology’s true potential. Ben, a research scientist and software developer, puts his beliefs to work creating top-secret, next-generation products in ICS’ Reinvention Lab in HP San Diego.

Lee Coulter

A singer/songwriter from Australia, Lee Coulter is on an eternal quest to write the song that touches that chord in everyone. He tries to breakdown stereotypes for young aspiring musicians (i.e. there is no direct link between trashing hotels and making good music). Coulter carved his first guitar from a eucalyptus tree and set out to bring an end to the raging roo/koala feud with songs promoting social justice, good times and the simple joys of life. In addition to his solo career, Lee has launched the band Square Pegs Baby as a side project and as an outlet for fun, laughter, dancing and musical collaboration, and they recently launched a debut album and series of instructive, satirical “How to be a rock star” videos on YouTube. Lee will conduct his “Mr. Positivity” tour in 2013, performing in 55 cities in five months. His music video, “Mad Love,” premiered last summer and we are proud to screen it and also to feature Grant Korgan, the inspiration for the song and for the film The Push, on the TEDxYouth@SanDiego stage.

Jackie Freiberg, Ph.D.

For over 25 years, Jackie Freiberg has been sharing the unconventional, best practices of globally admired leaders. As a bestselling author on leadership and innovation, Jackie is dedicated to helping people practice the art of leadership to have a positive impact in the world. Jackie is the lead faculty for The University of San Diego’s Trailblazer2ChangeMaker workshop, a week-long experience that equips high school students with leadership and life strategies needed to succeed and have a positive impact in college and beyond.  Jackie’s drug of choice is a great workout! She and Kevin Freiberg (her best friend and husband) write, speak and parent together. Their three children are their best work and most influential teachers to date. Their books include: the international bestseller, NUTS! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business & Personal Success, GUTS!, BOOM! (7-choices for leadership and accountability) and NANOVATION: How a Little Car Can Teach the World to Innovate.

David Carroll, Ph.D.

A materials physicist by training, Professor David Carroll is director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  His research focuses primarily on the properties of quantum matrix composites. He holds 12 patents and directs innovative research projects in the areas of power, such as photovoltaics, lighting and display systems and piezo-thermoelectrics and in medicine, such as cancer therapeutics, sensor technology and biological-electronic interfaces (bionics). You can learn more about his team’s exciting discoveries at

Jim Mumford, CLP, GRP

Jim Mumford is a San Diego resident who began his career in 1977 by founding Good Earth Plant & Flower Company, focusing initially on floral design and plantscape artistry with an environmentally conscious approach. In March 2009, Mumford launched GreenScaped Buildings, an addition to the Good Earth family of companies, specializing in green roofs, living walls, bio-filtration and rainwater harvesting systems. Due to his innovative approach and pioneering efforts in the plantscaping industry, Jim has earned respect from colleagues as a recognized, award-winning industry leader and speaker. A certified landscape professional, accredited contractor and accredited green roof professional, his extensive experience, education and training in the plantscaping industry enable him to share his experience and talent with a diverse local and national client base. As a result of his dedication, he was awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year 2007,” San Diego Magazine named him an “Eco-Warrior” in April of 2010 and The San Diego Daily Transcript cites him as one of 2012’s “Top Influentials.”

Jason Chua and Eugene  Korsunskiy

Co-founders of SparkTruck, Jason Chua and Eugene Korsunskiy devised this large delivery truck full of maker tools that’s currently in the middle of a 15,000-mile, cross-country journey to impart prototyping skills to students all across America. Through fun, hands-on workshops at schools, libraries and museums, SparkTruck seeks to inspire and empower kids to make an impact on the world. Over the course of its inaugural road trip, SparkTruck has met over 2000 students, visited over 30 states and amassed a windshield collection of millions of bugs.

Alex Day

An independent musician who’s sold over half a million songs on iTunes, Alex Day landed on the Top 10 in charts around the world and has been profiled in Forbes as ‘the future of music’ — all without a record label, manager, radio plugger or PR person. His YouTube channel ‘alexday’ has nearly 100 million views and new videos go live every week. Followers to @thatalexday on Twitter include Stephen Fry, who said, “Sometimes a pop song with a great hook is as pleasing as a Bach chorale,” in reference to Alex’s single Lady Godiva. Alex is friendly and would like to meet you.

Stacey Ferreria

Presently taking a gap year after her freshman year in college, Stacey Ferreria is hard at work launching her brainchild, My Social iCloud, a password-saving cloud application that she developed with her brother and for which she received financial backing from Sir Richard Branson.

Lindsay Hower and Jason Rogers

Lindsay Hower serves as U.S. national director of Right To Play, leading the U.S. team in raising funds and brand awareness to support the nonprofit’s global endeavor. Splitting her time between San Francisco and New York, Lindsay collaborates with her highly talented team to engage and inspire Right To Play’s supporter network, marketing the organization’s signature play-based curriculum and impact, and involving tenured and new U.S. Athlete Ambassadors who help amplify Right To Play’s track record of enhancing the health, education and well-being of the world’s most marginalized children and communities. Prior to joining Right To Play, Lindsay managed the major gifts program at Rare, a global conservation group, and has also served the U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Worldwatch Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Lindsay sits on the governance boards of two San Francisco Bay area not-for-profits and works as a senior advisor for Paragon Philanthropy, advising foundations and organizations on their strategic planning and revenue models. Lindsay also is a former teacher, global traveler and amateur tri-athlete. Learn more about Right to Play at and follow her Twitter feed at @lindshower.

Jason Rogers is an Olympic Silver Medalist and two-time Olympian in the sport of fencing. He also currently serves as an athlete ambassador for Right To Play. Jason’s past activities include organizing and co-chairing fundraising events, traveling to Jordan to educate local Right To Play staff members and public speaking about the organization’s key platform of using sport and play as means for fostering peace and development. Jason currently is a brand consultant at Landor Associates in New York City as part of the WPP Marketing Fellowship, a prestigious program that places marketing talent with WPP operating companies worldwide. His website is and his Twitter handle is @jasonrogersusa.

Caroline Heldman, Ph.D.

Caroline Heldman is the Chair of the Politics Department at Occidental College in Los Angeles.  She specializes in the presidency and systems of power (race, class, gender, sexuality) in U.S. politics.  Her research has been featured in the top journals, and she is a commentator for numerous news programs  She is also a regular contributor to Ms. Blog and Sociological Images. Dr. Heldman co-edited, Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House?(2007).  She is active in rebuilding efforts in New Orleans where she co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and is currently working to open the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum.

Ajmal Aqtash and Richard Sarrach

In late 2009, Ajmal Aqtash co-founded form-ula, an award wining multidisciplinary design practice that seeks to understand the intersection of design and engineering and its collaborative possibilities to produce culturally rich and high performance architecture for large and small scale projects.  Form-ula’s work has received a number of awards, including the Architectural League of New York’s Prize for Young Architects and Designers in 2011, and a 2010 innovation award from the American Institute of Architects’ New York City chapter.   Ajmal co-founded core.form-ula in July of 2007, which is the research and development wing of form-ula; its goal is to expose innovation in design, architecture, engineering and art. Before launching Form-ula, Ajmal worked in the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, where he played a key role in the design of the World Trade Center Tower One as well as a number of prominent projects around the world. His work in the field of computational design led to leadership roles in the firm’s Design Group, Technical Group, Digital Design Group and Performative Design Group, pushing advanced design methods, computational techniques and sustainable design. Ajmal has an extensive background in morphology and is a Assistant Director at the Center for Experimental Structures (CES).  Ajmal is currently Adjunct Professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture.

Richard Sarrach is co-founder and a principal at form-ula. He specializes in computation techniques, digital material practices and the ramification that they have on culture. Form-ula has received a number of awards, including the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers in 2011 and the AIA  Innovative Curtain Wall Design Award in 2010. He has served as the assistant director of exhibitions at Columbia University and has overseen digital production for The Center for Experimental Structures (CES). He is currently the director of digital futures and an adjunct professor in the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, where he has taught design studios in China, Rome and the United States that have been published and exhibited internationally. He is actively engaged in research on the history of making as pedagogy as well as the intersection between fabrication and economic agents.

Daniel H. Wilson, Ph.D.

New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse, Daniel Wilson has written seven other books as well, including How to Survive a Robot Uprising and A Boy and His Bot. Wilson earned a doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degrees in robotics and artificial intelligence. Robopocalypse is being adapted for film by DreamWorks, with Steven Spielberg directing. Wilson’s latest novel, Amped, a novel exploring the implications of neural implants, was released by Doubleday in 2012. You can learn more at

Jordan Miller, Ph.D.

As a post-doctoral researcher in the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, Jordan Miller is a founding member of Hive76 in Philadelphia, and a RepRap core developer. His research in the department of Bioengineering combines chemistry and rapid prototyping to direct cultured human cells to form more complex organizations of living vessels and tissues. Jordan has been in the 3D maker community since the beginning. He developed the first MakerBot heated build platform at Hive76 and is delighted to use his RepRap 3D printer every day in the lab for biomedical research and regenerative medicine. His Twitter handle is @jmil.

Rocio Ortega

Rocio is a freshman at Wellesley College in Massachusetts hoping to major in Political Science and History. A proud Latina born from two Mexican-born parents, Rocio says they taught her the value of hard work and education. A graduate of James A. Garfield High School in Los Angeles, she class president, student body secretary and battalion commander for Army JROTC. Rocio was the last U.S. House of Representatives Page to be sponsored for the 111th Congress in Capitol Hill under U.S. Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano. She’s an alumna from leadership programs such as California Girls State, the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and the International Women’s Media Conference. A Coca-Cola Scholarship winner, Rocio was named Woman of the Year in 2011, a U.S. Congressional Award for voluntarism. She is passionate about female empowerment, especially through her involvement with the United Nations Foundation campaign of ‘Girl Up,’ and she is an enthusiastic champion of cultural diversity and getting today’s youth involved in politics.

Grant Korgan

A nanoscientist and professional athlete, Grant Korgan has never shied away from a challenge. When he found himself deep in the Sonora backcountry of the Sierra Nevada, lying in the snow with a broken back from an extreme snowmobile sports injury, he knew he had met the biggest challenge of his life, and he didn’t shrink away from that either. With a “glass-half-full” mentality, a rock-solid determination to overcome the challenge before him and the constant support and love of his wife, Shawna, Grant began an extraordinary journey of recovery, the first year of which inspired his first book, Two Feet Back. Fueled by a lifelong desire to make a positive impact on the world, Grant now shares his inspiring words of empowerment and unflagging positivity to audiences around the country.  While his own story is one of overcoming significant physical and mental challenges, Grant’s message isn’t about obstacles. It’s about “Deciding What You Want” in life, “Focusing on What IS Working” and at all points “Choosing Positivity Through Adversity” — these are Grant’s Three Points of Possibility, the keys to meeting adversity head-on and overcoming it joyfully. Learn more about the Push, the documentary based on his personal journey at and join his Facebook fan base at

Charity Tilleman-Dick

An American-born soprano, Charity Tillemann-Dick’s amazing story and vocal talents have been widely featured in the US, Europe and Asia. She has collaborated with noted conductors and musicians and has performed for numerous presidents, prime ministers, members of Congress and world dignitaries.   She has been featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CBS This Morning, Glamour magazine,,, and The Huffington Post. Her performances have been broadcast around the world on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, C-SPAN and NPR..  Charity earned a bachelor’s degree from Regis University in Denver, CO, she studied music at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

You can follow Charity on Facebook and on Twitter / Instagram at @CharityTD.

Wayne Earl

Wayne Earl recently completed penning the compelling life story of his daughter, Esther Grace, who succumbed to cancer in August 2010, shortly after her 16th birthday. Before she died, a deepening friendship with her favorite author, best-selling young adult fiction writer John Green, greatly encouraged her. The friendship also inspired him, most notably in his writing of the world-renowned novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which he dedicated to Esther. In tribute to their daughter, the Earl family founded the nonprofit organization This Star Won’t Go Out, which exists to help ease the financial burdens of families caring for children with cancer. In its first two years, TSWGO has given more than $90,000 to families in crisis and need. Wayne works as a chaplain and college philosophy professor in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, Lori, and three of their five children. His biography of Esther will be published early next year.