TEDxTAMU is a conference devoted to bringing ideas worth spreading to Texas A&M University and the surrounding community. All speakers at TEDxTAMU are affiliated with Texas A&M University. Professionals from multiple backgrounds, speakers at TEDxTAMU will be speaking on many diverse subjects. This year's event is comprised of two sessions.


Geren Auditorium (Architecture Building B)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Session 1: 10AM, Session 2: 4PM



Session 1        Session 2

James Benham                Reuben May

Kevin Andrews                 Rodney Boehm

Craig Shapiro                   David Bergbreiter

Steve Lawton                   Rebecca Schlegel

Fancy Mills                       Seth Murray

Jeffery Tomberlin             Mark McSpadden

Leo Lopez III                    Tatiana Erukhimova


James Benham

How Technology is Rewriting the Rules of the Built World and Construction

While growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James Benham began writing code at the age of 11 and by 14 had developed his first software application. James went on to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Science in Information Systems while in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University . During his final year at Texas A&M in 2001, James cofounded JBKnowledge, Inc. where he is now the Chief Executive Officer. James has led JBKnowledge to become a premier provider of technology solutions to the construction and insurance industries, with clients across North America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. JBKnowledge is the maker of the SmartBidNet , SmartCompliance , SmartReality , and SmartInsight cloud, mobile and wearable solutions. The company, and James, are headquartered in Bryan/College Station, TX where James also serves as a College Station City Councilman and an Adjunct Professor of Construction Science at Texas A&M University.

Kevin Andrews

Lessons You can Learn in College from Studying Beer

Kevin Andrews brings more than 15 years of professional experience in higher education, business, and communications to TEDxTAMU. Being at a land-grant university, Kevin understands the value of service and extension. He works with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in organizational and community development. In this role, he serves in leadership roles on three national associations. He also works closely with the students and alumni through The Association of Former Students, serving as a speaker or facilitator for numerous campus programs, and through advising six student organizations. No stranger to the classroom, Kevin teaches an undergraduate course in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is known for his campus tours and ability to recruit students to Texas A&M University. Currently, Kevin is pursuing a doctoral degree in Agricultural Leadership, Education, & Communication from Texas A&M University, having earned a master’s degree in the same field in 2011. He holds graduate certificates in College Teaching and Community Development from Texas A&M. His undergraduate degree in business is from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Kevin was selected as the Bugle Call honoree in 2015, a namesake for Fish Camp 2014, awarded with the J. Malon Southerland Aggie Leadership Scholarship in multiple years, was a 2013 recipient of the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, is a four-time recipient of the Frank W. Sheppard, Jr. ’47 Graduate Assistantship, and was recognized as the ALEC Department Outstanding Master’s Student in 2011.

Craig Shapiro

The Courage to Change

Craig Shapiro grew up in the Bronx, New York, and began his career teaching English as a Second Language at DeWitt Clinton High School. While at Clinton, he worked with a team to develop a comprehensive ESL and Native Spanish program that received national praise and attention. Brown, Fordham and Columbia universities all studied the program and declared it a national model for bilingual students. Mr. Shapiro was asked to present details of the program and his work at a number of universities, including as a keynote speaker at the Conference on Teaching Diverse Learners at Brown University. The education commissioner of the state of New York used Mr. Shapiro’s classroom as a model for teaching ESL to prepare students for the New York State Regents Examination. Mr. Shapiro joined Austin ISD as principal of Crockett High School in 2008. While at Crockett, he helped move the school from a TEA ranking of Academically Unacceptable in 2006 and 2008 to a ranking of Acceptable. In 2011, the school won the High Schools That Work National Outstanding High School award and was named Texas Urban High School of the Year. During Mr. Shapiro’s tenure, Crockett also met all state and federal testing standards, showed gains of more than 20% in math and science standardized test scores—including all NCLB measured cells—and increased the overall graduation rate to 87% from 70.6%. The graduation rates for African-American, economically disadvantaged and ESL students all increased more than 30 percentage points. Every senior at Crockett applies to college, and students annually earn an average of $7.5 million in scholarships and grants. Mr. Shapiro was an AISD Principal of the Year Finalist in 2010 and was named AISD Principal of the Year in 2014. He currently serves Austin ISD as the Interim Associate Superintendent of High Schools.

Steve Lawton

Head First! Crash Course in Positivity

Steve Lawton is currently serving as a leader at Dell driving transformation initiatives.  Steve joined Dell in March 1999 and during his 17 years at Dell has developed an expertise in leading large transformational changes in manufacturing, procurement, and IT in addition to serving as an Integration Executive. Prior to Dell, Steve worked at Motorola as a process engineer in a semiconductor fab and as an engineer in the Astronaut Office at NASA. He holds a BS and MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University, as well as an MBA from St. Edwards University. Steve enjoys speaking and sharing what he has learned over the years about positive leadership from his career and through his experience recovering from a near fatal skiing injury in March 2014.  His presentations share insights about how a positive mindset and leadership will lead to better outcomes for individuals and organizations and covers several simple, practical positivity principles that can be employed by anyone to achieve better outcomes. Steve and his wife of 26 years, Deanna have two teenage children and they have grown quite fond of them. 

Fancy Mills

The XYZ Strategies for Succeeding in a Multi-Generational World.

Fancy Mills has 20 years of experience specializing in training, consulting, recruiting, and workforce management focused in corporate technical support. As a Master Certified Instructor, she has assisted companies all over the world in developing best practices and standard operating procedures to help improve their organizations. As a Master Certified Instructor since 2000 she has certified thousands of support professionals, managers, directors, and corporate trainers in virtual and classroom environments.  In addition to training, she has developed and facilitated customized curriculum for Fortune 500 companies such as Dell Computer Corporation in the areas of presentation, communication, and time management skills. Fancy has also served as a session speaker for various industry conferences and events such as HDI and ATD. While at HDI she’s served as a chair for International Certification Standard Committees, served on certification testing committees, as well as published articles for Support World Magazine.  Recently she has served as a Track Chair for the 2015 ITSMF/Fusion International Conference. She's currently pursuing her Masters in Human Resource Development with a specialization in Adult Education from Texas A&M University.

jeffery tomberlin

Tales from the Crypt: Harvesting Death for Humanity's Benefit

Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin is the laboratory director and principal investigator of the FLIES (Forensic Laboratory for Investigative Entomological Sciences) Laboratory (forensicentomology.tamu.edu). Dr. Tomberlin is a native of Georgia. He received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia in 1993 and his M.S. in Entomology from Clemson University in 1996. After attaining his M.S., he worked for two years in the laboratory of Dr. Lee Goff in Hawaii. He returned to Georgia in 1998 and received his doctorate in 2001 from the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. 

The core research area of his laboratory is decomposition ecology. Primarily, he is interested in understanding the mechanisms that regulate nutrient recycling. Data generated and published from his laboratory has proved instrumental in the development of the black soldier fly as a method for recycling waste for the production of protein. His research has also proved useful in other areas, such as forensic entomology. To date, he has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts along with having 11 MS and 7 PhD students completing their degrees with him.  Currently, he has 2 postdoctoral associates, 1 research associate, 4 visiting scholars, 5 MS student, and 9 PhD students under his supervision.

Leo Lopez

Image of the Enemy

Leo Lopez III, M.D. is a Family Medicine Physician in San Antonio, Texas. He earned his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University in 2011. Dr. Lopez traveled the world, leading medical missions as a health care provider in Guatemala. He’s directed and produced documentary films covering human rights and access to health care including filming on location in Israel and Palestine. He’s worked on advocacy films in Japan with the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth. Leo is also an investigative journalist. He’s published articles across the globe for leading medical journals like The Lancet and The New Physician. Leo’s journalistic focus is on the psycho-social factors impacting health and well-being.   

In March of 2015, Leo received the Excellence in Public Health Award from the United States Public Health Service and the UT School of Medicine San Antonio. Leo is also an inductee into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. The mission of this society is to recognize individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care and who can serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. Over the course of his medical training, Leo earned The Dr. and Mrs. Alexander David Major MD Family Physician Presidential Endowed Award, The John S. Primomo MD Excellence in Academic Family Medicine Award, The Texas Indo-American Physician Society Southwest Chapter Family Medicine Award, and The Bates Family Medicine Award. Leo is a Rio Grande City native and a graduate of the RGC High Class of 2007. He graduated from South Texas College in 2007 as part of the inaugural Dual Enrollment Medical Science Academy class.

Reuben May

Never Underestimate the Power of Your Inspiration

Dr. Reuben A. Buford May is the Glasscock University Professor in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence and Professor of Sociology at Texas A & M University. He is the author of three books: Urban Nightlife: Entertaining Race, Class, and Culture in Public Space, the award-winning book Living Through the Hoop: High School Basketball, Race, and the American Dream (2008) and Talking at Trena’s: Everyday Conversations at an African American Tavern (2001). He has been a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visiting professor at MIT. May received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago, and his research focuses on race and culture, urban ethnography, the sociology of sport, and the sociology of the everyday. In addition to his books and other scholarly publications, May has been featured on radio and television and in print media, in particular for his performance as the #rappingprofessor Reginald S. Stuckey.

Rodney Boehm

Intensive Innovation Experiences

Rodney Boehm is the Director of Aggies Invent and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. He has broad industry experiences, including over 30 years in all aspects of the telecommunications industry (sales, marketing, manufacturing, business development, and technical design), the creation of a telecommunications standard (SONET - Synchronous Optical Network) for the fiber optics industry that is still in use internationally over 30 years later, a wide variety of business experiences in international companies, and start up experiences that have helped him lead a very successful industry career. He holds a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Currently he is using his technical business experiences to develop and run innovation and entrepreneurial programs for the Engineering Innovation Center, a 20,000 sq ft rapid prototyping facility. These include Aggies Invent, Engineering Project Showcase, Inventeer, and Pop Up Classes. In addition, he mentors multiple entrepreneurial teams.

David bergbreiter

Changing Phase Behavior to Facilitate Chemical Processes

Dave Bergbreiter is a Professor of Chemistry whose research and teaching efforts are loosely defined as involving organic chemistry.  Prof. Bergbreiter received his B.S. in chemistry from Michigan State University in 1970, his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 1974, and joined the faculty at Texas A&M University directly afterward in 1974.  Though his forty plus year career at TAMU, he has excelled as a teacher, most commonly teaching undergraduate courses in organic chemistry.  He is also an internationally recognized researcher.  His research programs that emphasis hands on work by undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral students, and collaborators both at TAMU and across the globe have involved a variety of problems in organic chemistry, most recently focusing on issues associated with smart materials, green chemistry, and catalysis.  His efforts in teaching and his pioneering research discoveries have earned him numerous awards including the title of Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and recognition as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Why Your True Self Matters

Dr. Rebecca Schlegel is an associate professor in psychology at Texas A&M University. She received a BS in psychology from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Her research is in the area of social psychology, with a specific focus on the self and well-being. Much of her recent work has examined the idea of a “true self” and the implications it has for people’s everyday lives. She has authored 23 peer-reviewed journal articles and three book chapters. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation. She currently serves on the editorial board for two of the top journals in her field and was recently named a Ray A. Rothrock Fellow within the college of liberal arts.

Seth Murray

Plant Sex and Selection, How Technological Change Drives Improvement in Plant Breeding and Agriculture

Seth Murray is an Associate Professor and Eugene Butler Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University. He received his PhD at Cornell University in 2008 working on the genetics of sorghum and a BS from Michigan State University where he co-founded the MSU student organic farm. He directs a program focused on quantitative genetic discovery for crop improvement, applied maize (corn) breeding for yield, aflatoxin resistance, and stress tolerance in Texas, as well as long-term breeding for perennial maize and sorghum. He has chaired 17 graduate students, authored/ co-authored 36 articles, and served in leadership roles for ASTA, the Crop Science Society and the National Association of Plant Breeders.

Mark Mcspadden

A Story About the Future

Mark McSpadden is the Director of Sabre Labs, the emerging technology incubator and trends research group within Sabre. In the Lab, he and his team research and experiment with technology and trends like indoor location, wearables, virtual reality, and even unmanned aerial vehicles to explore how they may shape the future of travel. Mark has shared his passion and vision for the future of travel and technology at national events and travel industry board rooms alike, and in 2013 was selected as one PhocusWright's Class of 35. In addition to his travel industry experience, Mark has an extensive technology background in both enterprise and startup environments. He is recognized leader in the programming world and is a sucker for a good code contest. Off-screen, Mark enjoys cooking, eating, laughing, playing, and exploring the world with his wife and 3 young daughters.


Physics as a Street Art

Tatiana Erukhimova received a Ph.D. in Physics from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999 and joined TAMU in 2001. She has coordinated and organized ten successful Physics & Engineering Festivals attended by thousands of visitors from all over Texas and other states. She developed the Physics Show: an interactive presentation involving entertaining physics demonstrations and hands-on exhibits. Since 2007, she has done over 200 shows attended by 16,000 people of all ages, from elementary school children to adults. In 2012, she started the innovative program Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics & Engineering (DEEP) for engaging students in outreach to help develop new generations of science communicators. She is a co-organizer of the Mitchell Institute Physics Enhancement Program (MIPEP), which includes annual summer boarding schools for physics teachers from Texas high schools. She is a co-author, with Gerald North, of an undergraduate textbook on Atmospheric Thermodynamics published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. Currently, Dr. Erukhimova teaches freshman physics classes at TAMU. She has received multiple awards for teaching and public outreach including the University-Level and College-Level Distinguished Achievement Awards in Teaching from the Association of Former Students, Sigma Xi Outstanding Science Communicator Award, John E. Trott, Jr. Award in Student Recruiting, and three Texas A&M University System Student Led Awards for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Erukhimova shares her experience and passion for physics education and outreach through invited presentations at Texas A&M and international conferences.