TEDxUCLA Talks from the 2022 Conference are below

TEDxUCLA is on June 10, 2023,
on the UCLA Campus.

Tickets go on sale in April, and speaker submissions are open and under review through the month of February. Please look under the above ‘Speaker Proposal’ menu item for details, and submit your ideas for the UCLA stage.

Certainty in Small Acts

Paul Barber

Ph.D., Integrative Biology
Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

 The solution to large problems may be simpler than we think. Even through small, seemingly insignificant acts, we all have the power to catalyze change and help create the world we want to see

Dr. Paul Barber’s laboratory integrates genetics, ecology, oceanography and geology to understand the processes that promote speciation in marine environments, creating marine biodiversity hotspots. For the past decade, we have focused on the fish and invertebrates of the coral reefs of the Coral Triangle, the global epicenter of marine biodiversity. Through a comparative approach, we are examining the relative importance of tectonic history, physical oceanography, and organismal ecologies in limiting genetic connectivity and promoting evolution and lineage diversification. Our recent work focuses on integrating empirical models of connectivity with predictions from geographically explicit models of contemporary and historical ocean currents. We work closely with conservation organizations such as Conservation International to translate our basic science into information that can help guide conservation planning, protecting these endangered reef ecosystems. We are also interested in the role of natural selection and adaptation in shaping population genetic patterns, particularly the role of the genetic basis of energetic performance of mitochondrial in size-selective mortality of marine larvae.

The Adolescent Brain: A Thriving Look

Adriana Galván

Neuroscience tells us there is joy in not knowing what is coming next. Uncertainty is part of what makes life interesting. Yet, most adults describe a strong feeling of discomfort around uncertainty. On the other hand, adolescents thrive on uncertainty; it is their superpower. How might we embrace uncertainty as our superpower and, along the way, better understand the adolescent brain?


Dr. Adriana Galván is a Professor of Psychology at UCLA whose expertise is in adolescent brain development. She received her B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and her PhD in Neuroscience from Cornell.  She is the Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory.  The focus of her research is on characterizing the neural mechanisms underlying adolescent behavior with an eye towards informing policy (e.g. juvenile justice).   Her research is generously funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Jacobs Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation.   Using a multimodal approach that combines brain imaging, task-based behavior, physiological assays, and daily diary methods, her current research address the following questions: 1) How do neurodevelopmental changes in cortical and striatal systems subserve characteristic adolescent behaviors, including decision making, reward sensitivity and risk-taking, and learning? 2) What is the role of context in dynamic behavioral and neurobiological changes across adolescence?; and 3) How do neural changes differ between typically and atypically developing adolescents? 


Music is as real as your heart

Laura Ritchie

When we’re certain what we hear, think, and feel is as impactful as the actions we take and instruments we use we can change the world. Dr Laura Ritchie uses cymatics as a tool to challenge our thinking. 


Dr. Laura Ritchie is Chair of Learning and Teaching at the University of Chichester. She is vibrant in her teaching, research, music-making, and in life. Laura’s musical background is as a classical cellist, originally training in Chicago with Hans Jensen before coming to the UK to pursue her Masters and PhD (psychology of music) at the Royal College of Music. As a musician Laura spans genres and has performed both as a classical recitalist and as a member of The Mummers on Jools Holland and at Glastonbury. Laura is also a Chartered Psychologist and her recent book Yes I Can: Learn to use the Power of Self-efficacy (2021) is practical, about self-beliefs and noticing possibilities in our everyday lives to create a real sense of ‘yes’. Laura’s enthusiasm is contagious and inspires people to realize their goals through positive achievement and reach beyond their dreams. 

Mental Health Meets Psychedelics

Burton Tabaac

When we’re certain what we hear, think, and feel is as impactful as the actions we take and instruments we use we can change the world. Dr Laura Ritchie uses cymatics as a tool to challenge our thinking. 


Burton J. Tabaac, MD FAHA

Burton is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, dedicated to the cutting-edge treatment and prevention of cerebrovascular diseases. He is a graduate of the fellowship program in vascular neurology at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD (2019). After graduating from AUC School of Medicine, where he earned his MD (2014), Tabaac completed a neurology residency at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ. There, he was humbled to have been selected as a three-time recipient of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award (2016, 2017, and 2018). 

The Only Certainty Is Uncertainty: How to Turn the Unexpected From a Threat Into Opportunity

Christian Busch & Lexi Montée

Prof. Christian Busch (PhD) is the bestselling author of The Serendipity Mindset: The Art & Science of Creating Good Luck– “a wise, exciting, and life-changing book” (Arianna Huffington) that “provides excellent practical guidance for all” (Paul Polman, former CEO, Unilever) – and an internationally known expert in the areas of innovation, purpose-driven leadership, and serendipity. He is the director of the CGA Global Economy Program at New York University (NYU), and also teaches at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Lexi Montée is a marketing and strategy leader specializing in brand building, marketing & PR, business development, and sales. She is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Happiest Baby (maker of SNOO, the first robotic bassinet that calms crying and increases sleep), where she helped scale the company from ideation through launch and into a successful global company. Lexi is a passionate human rights activist and investor in purpose-driven startups. And her new favorite title she earned this year is mom.

When Ignorance Becomes Awareness

Russell Lehmann

Diagnosed with autism at age 12, Russell went from an isolated recluse to a public speaker. Where he has been and where he is, on face value, might seem like they contradict one another, but what if we left our presumptions, or arrogance, behind and substituted it with awareness of our ignorance? Could becoming aware of what we do not know, our ignorance, be the first step we take on the path to what’s possible?



Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker and poet contextualizing autism, mental health, disabilities, and the overall human condition. His words have been featured in the USA Today, LA Times, NPR, Yahoo! News, Success Magazine and archived in the Library of Congress.

A graduate of MIT’s “Leadership in the Digital Age” course, Russell sits on the national Board of Directors for The Arc and is a council member for the Autism Society of America. Russell has also been the Youth Ambassador for the mayor of Reno, Nevada, and a member of the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities as well as the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Russell is also a contributor for Psychology Today.

Our Bubbles of Certainty, a Perspective from My life in North Korea

Seohyun Lee

Seohyun Lee’s life as a member of North Korea’s elite was turned upside down when she was allowed to live and study abroad from the North Korean regime. Living in freedom, Seohyun had her basic beliefs challenged and then later saw the effects of guilt by association. Seohyun presents a first-hand account of facing the decision to live a life of certainty as part of a elite group, or escaping into the uncertainty of a free world that she had been groomed to fear.

Seohyun Lee was born and raised in central Pyongyang and received the most “prestigious” education in North Korea. Starting from her elementary years, she was honored various awards for her leadership at Kumsung Academy, which is well known to the outside world as the first lady Ri Sul Ju’s school. She then studied at Pyongyang Foreign Languages Middle & High School and majored in Chinese and English. In 2008 she enrolled at Kim Il Sung University and continued her study in the Chinese language in Foreign Language & Literature department. After moving to China with her family, she graduated from China Dongbei University of Economics and Finance in 2014 and earned the Bachelor of Science in Finance. However, during a heightened period of brutal purges by the Kim Jong Un regime, her family defected to South Korea and finally resettled in the United States in 2016.

30 Days of Wearing My Trash

Rob Greenfield

For one month Rob Greenfield lived just like the average person and WORE every single piece of trash he created. Why? To create a visual of how much trash just one of us creates and serve as a mirror to society to self-reflect, question habits and explore alternatives to live in balance with Earth.

Rob Greenfield is an activist and humanitarian dedicated to leading the way to a more sustainable and just world. He embarks on extreme projects to bring attention to important global issues and inspire positive change. His work has been covered by media worldwide including National Geographic and he’s been named “The Robin Hood of modern times” by France 2 TV.

Processed Foods, It Is Not Your Fault

Joan Ifland

Addictions are so common in our culture that we often don’t know we have them. We are unaware of the splendid life we could have by putting them into remission. Gentle communities are the surprise pathway to a thought life free from cravings.  


Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA

Dr. Ifland has been creating breakthroughs in recovery from food addiction from 1999 with the publication of her first popular book to 2018 with the publication of her textbook, Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment, and Recovery (CRC Press) and on to the present with the establishment of online peer support, The Addiction Reset Community (ARC). The textbook is the first academic publication describing how to diagnose and treat processed food addiction, as well as establishing the scientific basis for the disease.