It's TED time at UT.

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy will host Knoxville's own TEDx conference Saturday, Feb. 22. Ten featured speakers are scheduled to present multidisciplinary thoughts and ideas to attendees beginning at 10 a.m.

TEDxUTK Organizer Katie Rogers, a sophomore in biomedical engineering, said she and Co-Organizer Chris Barnes, senior in chemical engineering, were inspired to host TED talks at UT after she was introduced to the annual international conference during the summer.

"I really love TED talks because they are cross-disciplinary and refreshing," Rogers said. "Chris and I thought that TED went along with UT's Pursuit of the Top 25 and Vol Vision so we decided to write a proposal and submit it to potential faculty advisors for their thoughts."

The non-profit organization TED, named for its original focus on sharing expertise in technology, entertainment and design, holds an international conference each year, bringing the world's leading thinkers together to share ideas and discoveries.

TEDx is a free licensing program that allows individuals to organize TED conferences in their own communities.

Patrick Caveney, an assisting organizer for TEDxUTK and graduate student in the Bredesen Center, aimed to bring interdisciplinary discussion to campus since founding the Academic Journal Club, a discussion group with similar goals. TEDx, he said, is a good fit.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the interesting, world-class work and research being done in the area and an opportunity to bring together a diverse set of people to learn about and discuss these ideas," Caveney said.

Some of TEDxUTK's featured speakers will include: Avigail Sachs, assistant professor in the School of Architecture; Baldwin Lee, professor in the School of Art; Neal Eash, associate professor in Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science; and Greg Kaplan, professor in Modern Foreign Languages. In addition to several UT faculty members, academics from other schools will be contributing their expertise.

"I'm really hoping TEDxUTK is something that the student body, as well as faculty and the Knoxville community, can get excited about," Rogers said. "TED talks are unique in that they bring people of all backgrounds together to discuss 'ideas worth spreading,' so an idea is seen from a variety of perspectives."

Tickets to TEDxUTK are free, but the 100 allotted seats for the conference in the Baker Center have been filled. To accommodate the expected crowd, TEDx organizers arranged a live broadcast of the event in the Hodges Library Auditorium and the UC Auditorium, for which tickets may be reserved.

In addition, talks will be available for live streaming on the TEDxUTK website. (

TEDx attendees are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to the event start.

Rogers said she is looking forward to the culmination of eight months of planning, much of which hinged on connecting with the area's academic community.

"Networking is definitely key in reaching out to potential speakers," Rogers said. "Chris and I are STEM majors, so it was difficult for us to reach out to people who were in different disciplines; however, our TEDxUTK core team grew, and collectively we span a good number of the colleges here at UT."

Saturday's event, Rogers said, will bring fresh inspiration to the UT community and push audience members beyond typical lines of thought.

"TEDxUTK," she said, "is the intellectual spark that students and faculty need here on campus."

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