Conference Speakers

TEDxGeorgeMasonU 2015 Speakers

Changwoo Ahn


Changwoo Ahn is an Associate Professor in Environmental Science and Policy, and an affiliated faculty member with Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering and Biology at GMU. Ahn is a wetland ecosystem ecologist and an ecological engineer. He teaches Wetland Ecology and Management, Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis, Ecological Sustainability, Ecological Engineering and Ecosystem Restoration. To date, Ahn has published over 100 peer-reviewed abstracts and journal articles, authored several book chapters, and been serving as a book editor for Ecological Engineering-the Journal of Ecosystem Restoration. Ahn is a founder and director of the EcoScience + Art at GMU, a new interdisciplinary initiative started in 2013 to bring together individuals working across the boundaries of ecosystem science, engineering, art, and design fields. The initiative aims to share knowledge, expertise, and wisdom for creatively engaging in developing innovative ways of integrating college education, scholarship, and service. Ahn designed and launched a year-long student project, titled “The Rain Project” to raise awareness of stormwater issues for Mason community, and showcase an interdisciplinary year-long (Fall 2014 through Fall 2015) project by students and faculty as a team to design and implement green infrastructure on the campus. Ahn believes that innovation emerging from the interaction of the sciences, engineering, arts, and humanities can transform our learning contexts.

David Anderson

David Anderson, CEHD

David Anderson, Ph.D. serves as a Professor and Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Health, School of Recreation, Health and Tourism, College of Education and Human Development, at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He serves as project director and researcher on numerous national, state and local projects, teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on drug and alcohol issues, community health, and health communications; conducts needs assessments; prepares evaluation and analysis; and assists with strategic planning.  His work emphasizes college students, youth, school and community leaders, program planners, and policy makers.   Specialty areas include drug/alcohol abuse prevention, strategic planning and mobilization, communication and education, health promotion, and needs assessment and evaluation.   He has produced, moderated or served as a guest on several television programs and has produced several multi-media resources.

His research includes the College Alcohol Survey (1979-2015), the nation’s longitudinal assessment of alcohol, drug, tobacco, violence and related issues on four-year campuses.  He co-directed the Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America research project, with attention to high school youth decisions to use or not use alcohol.   He produced COMPASS: A Roadmap to Healthy Living, and COMPASS Roadmap: Destination Health, both focusing on a positive approach to wellness choices among college students.  He edited Wellness Issues for Higher Education (2015).  He authored the IMPACT Evaluation Resource for the NCAA; this manual highlights information, resources and materials for strategic planning, needs assessment and program monitoring for college and university leaders.  Also for the NCAA, he produced Best of CHOICES: Alcohol Education 1998-2008, complete with case studies, key program elements, and sample strategies; this incorporates a searchable database and videotaped vignettes from campus leaders.  He co-directed Promising Practices: Campus Alcohol Strategies from 1994 – 2001, including a Sourcebook, Action Planner, and Task Force Planner.  He co-authors the Wellness Assessment for Higher Education Preparation Programs.   He also chairs the Virginia College Alcohol Leadership Council, a consortium of college and universities in the state.

Early in his career, he served as a student affairs administrator, with positions as Director of Residence Life at Ohio University, Director of Residential Life at Radford University, and Residence Hall Director at The Ohio State University.    He received his Bachelors Degree from Duke University, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration.  His Masters Degree, from The Ohio State University, is in Student Personnel Administration.  His Ph.D. in Public Policy/Public Affairs is from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Manjula Dissanayake


Manjula Dissanayake is the founding Executive Director of Educate Lanka, an international non-profit social enterprise focused on enhancing access to quality education and employment for the socioeconomically marginalized children and youth in Sri Lanka.

Born and raised in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Manjula completed his primary and secondary education in Sri Lanka. He moved to the U.S. at the age of 19 to pursue his higher education. Manjula completed his bachelor’s in finance from the University of Maryland in 2005 and a master’s in international development and social entrepreneurship from The Fletcher School at Tufts University in 2012. Prior to launching a career as a social entrepreneur in 2012, Manjula’s professional background included a career in investment banking in Washington DC for five years and consultancies at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group.

Manjula’s efforts and impact in international development, education, and foreign relations have been recognized internationally, including by the United Nations, U.S. Department of State, USAID, and Clinton Global Initiative. In 2013, Manjula became the only Sri Lankan to be named in Diplomatic Courier’s list of Under 33 Global Foreign Policy Leaders. Same year, Manjula was listed among top fifteen social innovators in the U.S. by Ashoka and American Express and was named an emerging innovator by the Huffington Post. Last year, the Sri Lanka Foundation honored him with the International Young Professional Achievement Award in the Field of Education.

Manjula currently resides in the Greater Washington area and splits his time between the U.S. and Sri Lanka.

Nadine Kabbani

Nadine Kabbani

Nadine Kabbani, PhD is a group leader at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and an Assistant Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at George Mason University. Her research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling in the developing and regenerating nervous system. Her lab explores the role of acetylcholine in synapse formation and maturation during early life stages using high resolution live cell imaging, genetics, and proteomics. She is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and the VA Youth Tobacco Program. She serves on the editorial board for Amino Acids and Proteomics Insights and is a book editor in the Springer series Methods in Molecular Biology. She has been the recipient of the Pre-doctoral Intramural Research and Training Award from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Philip Morris Award, the Foundation for Medical Research Award, the International Brain Research Organization Award, and the Philippe Foundation Scholar Award. Her research is funded by the VA Youth Tobacco Program, the National Institutes of Health, the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, and the Jeffress Memorial Trust. Her findings have featured in U.S. News & World Report, Los Angeles Times, and The Week.Dr. Kabbani received her doctorate in Pharmacology from the Penn State College of Medicine in 2003, and pursued postdoctoral in the laboratory of Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux at the Pasteur Institute in Paris from 2005-2008.

Rebecca Kamen

Rebecca Kamen

Rebecca Kamen’s work explores the nexus of art and science informed by wide-ranging research into cosmology, history, philosophy, and various scientific fields. She has investigated scientific rare books and manuscripts at the libraries of the American Philosophical Society, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and most recently the Cajal Institute in Madrid, utilizing these significant scientific collections as a catalyst in the creation of her work.

Ms. Kamen has exhibited and lectured both nationally and internationally. She has been the recipient of a many grants and fellowships, including a Pollack Krasner Foundation Grant and Chemical Heritage Foundation Travel Grant. Recently, as an artist in residence in the neuroscience program at National Institutes of Health, Kamen has interpreted and transformed neuroscience research into sculptural form. Her artwork is represented in many private and public collections.

Currently as professor emeritus of art at Northern Virginia Community College, Ms. Kamen continues to investigate how the arts and creativity can be used to enhance our understanding of science. An outcome of Kamen’s research has included the development of an art component for George Mason University’s Aspiring Scientist Summer Internship Program (ASSIP), encouraging science interns to use the arts as an innovative way of interpreting their research.

Linda Apple Monson

Linda Apple Monson

Linda Apple Monson is an International Steinway Artist and a recent honoree of the 2014 Influential Women of Virginia award.​ Named a Distinguished Service Professor of Music at George Mason University, Dr. Monson was honored as the George Mason University 2012 Faculty Member of the Year. An active international concert artist, lecturer, and master class clinician, Dr. Monson has given solo piano recitals, lecture-recitals, and piano master classes throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. An advocate of new music, she has presented numerous solo piano world premieres. Dr. Monson is a recipient of the George Mason University 2009 Teaching Excellence Award “for exemplary dedication to student learning and commitment to educational excellence.” She was selected for the Fulbright Senior Specialist Roster, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. A frequent lecture-recitalist at international and national conferences of the College Music Society, Monson’s recent international performances include Nanjing, China; Dublin, Ireland; Oxford, England, Hannover, Germany; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Bangkok, Thailand; Madrid, Spain; and San Jose, Costa Rica.

A native of central Pennsylvania, Professor Monson earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) and received a Diploma in Piano Performance from Musica en Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Dr. Monson currently serves as Managing Director of the School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia) as well as Director of Keyboard Studies. She also serves as the Director of Music at Springfield (Virginia) United Methodist Church.

Kevin Murray


Kevin Murray is founder and manager of The STEAM Table at Mason. Comprised of over 100 individuals and representing over 30 organizations, the STEAM Table’s mission is to raise national awareness of the importance of arts in education in order to stimulate creative thinking and discovery for the 21st century. Since its inception in 2013, the STEAM Table acts as a clearinghouse of information and shared resources, a producer and presenter of events, and one of several points of contact at George Mason University focused on the relationship between the Arts and Sciences, Art and Technology, and Arts in Education.

Kevin is Program Manager and Performance Faculty member for the School of Theater at Mason, the home of The STEAM Table, where he oversees student recruitment, retention, curricular advising and career planning, maintains an alumni database, presents special events, oversees its website, and participates in development, marketing, and communications with the staff of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). He actively participates in arts education for children as a guest instructor each summer for Acting for Young People.

Kevin is also a professional actor. He has appeared in scores of plays, films, television programs and commercials. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association. Recent projects include the premiere episode of Veep (HBO) with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, House of Cards (Netflix) with Kevin Spacey, and independent films such as Lovely Molly (Blair Redux Films), Familiar Strangers (Cavalier Films), and Assumption of Risk (Liberty Films).

Paul Rogers

Paul M. Rogers is an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair of English at George Mason University. Since 2011, he has also served as a Senior Scholar for the George Mason University Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. An innovative and interdisciplinary leader, Professor Rogers has led a variety of initiatives focused on advancing social entrepreneurship in close partnership with Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. His recent publications include: “Why Curricular Advances in Social Entrepreneurship Education Matter” (2014), and the co-edited books “International Advances in Writing Research: Cultures, Places, and Measures” (2012); “Writing Across the Curriculum: A Critical Sourcebook” (2011): and, “Traditions of Writing Research” (2010). He was a 2008 recipient of American Association of Colleges & University’s K. Patricia Cross Award for leadership in higher education, and a co-recipient of National Council for Teachers of English 2009 Janet Emig Award for research in English education. Dr. Rogers’ current research projects include a study of the relationship of well being to the effectiveness and impact of social entrepreneurship, and an extended research study aimed at increasing the success rates of doctoral students through improving dissertation writing and advising. He recently was a featured expert on the Washington, D.C. PBS station WETA’s award-winning series Reading Rockets on helping young children to read and write. Paul worked for several years on the Stanford Study of Writing research team, and is a founding leader and the corresponding secretary for the International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research.




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