ciWeek6 - 2015 Featured Keynotes

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton
Actor, Director, & Educator

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Thursday, March 5 at 1:30 p.m.


LeVar Burton has been capturing the admiring attention of both audiences and his industry peers for three decades and continues to enjoy longevity truly rare within the industry. Launching his acting career in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark television series ROOTS, Burton found himself on the cover of Time Magazine at the age of 19. Shortly thereafter, Burton achieved further global acclaim as Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge in Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series and feature films.

From 1983 until 2009, Burton was the host and producer of the beloved Peabody Award winning PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow. LeVar has recently reimagined Reading Rainbow through his company RRKidz and its award-winning mobile library. The all-new Reading Rainbow App is the number one educational app on iTunes and delivers hundreds of quality books and video field trips. Coming from a family of educators and as a result of his work on Reading Rainbow, LeVar speaks passionately on the topics of children's literacy and has been a keynote speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW) and received the Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Media from Tufts University. Also the honored recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy and 5 NAACP awards, LeVar has demonstrated in his career that he can do it all, whether acting, directing, producing or educating.

Dr. Sara Seager

Dr. Sara Seager
Planetary Scientist & Astrophysicist

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Thursday, March 5 at 11:30 a.m.

Dr. Sara Seager is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been a pioneer in the vast and unknown world of exoplanets, planets that orbit stars other than the sun. Her ground breaking research ranges from the detection of exoplanet atmospheres to innovative theories about life on other worlds to the development of novel space mission concepts. Now, dubbed an "astronomical Indiana Jones" she is on a quest after the field's holy grail, the discovery of a true Earth twin.

Before joining MIT in 2007, Dr. Seager spent four years on the senior research staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington preceded by three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Her Ph.D. is from Harvard University. Professor Seager is on the advisory board for Planetary Resources. Professor Seager is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, the 2012 recipient of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, and the 2007 recipient of the American Astronomical Society's Helen B. Warner Prize. She has been recognized in the media, most recently in Nature's Top Ten in 2011, and Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012, and is now the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science.

Dr. Hugh Herr

Dr. Hugh Herr
Bionics Engineer & Rock Climber

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Hugh Herr, head of the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, is creating bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs. In 2011, TIME Magazine coined Herr the “Leader of the Bionic Age” because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of biomechatronics–technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. A double amputee himself, he is responsible for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. Herr’s research group has developed gait-adaptive knee prostheses for transfemoral amputees and variable impedance ankle-foot exoskeletons for patients suffering from drop foot, a gait pathology caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. He has also designed his own bionic legs, and the world’s first bionic foot and calf system called the BiOM.

Herr is the author and co-author of over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and patents, chronicling the science and technology behind his many innovations. The computer-controlled knee was named one of TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Inventions in 2004; the robotic ankle-foot prosthesis, which mimics the action of a biological ankle and, for the first time, provides transtibial amputees with a natural gait, was named to the same list in 2007. Also in 2007, Herr was presented with the 13th annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. Herr’s story has been told in the biography Second Ascent, The Story of Hugh Herr; a 2002 National Geographic film, Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr; and in 2013 was featured in CNN, The Economist, Discover, and Nature.

Clayton Anderson

Clayton Anderson
Space Shuttle & ISS Astronaut

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 4 at 6 p.m.

Clayton Anderson is simply “out of this world!” Recently retired after a stellar 30-year career with NASA, Clayton has accumulated 167 days in space while living onboard the International Space Station for over five months in 2007 and serving as a Mission Specialist with the Space Shuttle 131 crew in 2010.

A seasoned spacewalker, Anderson spent nearly 40 hours in the unforgiving vacuum of space, having helped to build the space station through the execution of six spacewalks, placing him 27th on the list of cumulative spacewalk world records. Clayton’s remarkable career has been chronicled in a documentary by Nebraska Educational Television (NET) entitled Homemade Astronaut. He has appeared on the History Channel with Larry the Cable Guy in Only in America, and the Travel Channel with Kevin Connolly in Armed and Ready and Don Wildman in Off Limits.

Dr. David Gallo

Dr. David Gallo
Oceanographer & Explorer

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Thursday, March 5 at 10 a.m. & Friday, March 6 at 9:15 a.m.

Dr. David Gallo is an American oceanographer and Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution—a preeminent, globally recognized scientific laboratory. For more than 25 years, David has been at the forefront of ocean exploration, participating in and being witness to the development of new technologies and scientific discoveries that shape our view of planet earth. He has been described by TED Conferences as “an enthusiastic ambassador between the sea and those of us on dry land.” With nearly 11 million views, his TED presentation “Underwater Astonishments” is among the top-10 TED Talks viewed to date.

David received Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in geology from the State University of New York at Albany and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. In 1987 he joined Robert Ballard’s team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as Assistant Director of the Center for Marine Exploration.

David has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to use a combination of robots and submarines to explore the deep seafloor. He co-led an expedition to create the first detailed and comprehensive map of the RMS Titanic. He co-led the successful U.S. effort to locate the wreck site of Air France flight 447 and is presently involved in the search for missing Malaysia Air flight 370.

Dr. Gallo remains active in encouraging the development of new technologies for ocean exploration. He is a member of James Cameron’s Deep Ocean Task Force and a member of the XPrize Ocean Advisory Board. He is a participant in the Aspen Challenge (with the Aspen Institute and Bezos Family Foundation) and a proud member of the United States Nifty Fifty Scientists and Engineers.

He has given more than 15 TED and TEDx presentations and has appeared in numerous documentaries (Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic). He has also been featured on numerous televised news programs (Weather Channel, PBS Need to Know, MSNBC Ed Show, and NBC Today Show, Face the Nation). He is currently a CNN Analyst regarding missing airliner Mp70 and is regularly featured on Anderson Cooper 360.

Dr. Niall McCann

Dr. Niall McCann
Biologist, Adventurer, Explorer, Conservationist

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 4 at 11:30 a.m.

Dr. Niall McCann was born in Victoria, Canada, into a family of adventurers and grew up in Shrewsbury, in England’s most rural county: Shropshire. Niall studied Zoology at the University of Bristol, and completed his doctorate at Cardiff University, studying Baird’s tapir, the largest mammal in the neotropics and one of the most threatened species in all of the Americas.

Niall has dedicated his life to seeking out adventure in the natural world, either in combination with his zoological studies, or on stand-alone adventures. He has spent well over two years on expeditions on six continents.

Niall’s first major expedition came in 2000, when, at the age of 18, he spent one month cycling in the Himalayas with his father and a friend, crossing the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved pass in the world. Niall has since cycled the highest road in the world, canoed the River Yukon, been mountaineering in the Alps and been rock climbing in Europe and The USA.

In 2007 Niall rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. This expedition was followed, in 2009, by a successful attempt to manhaul on skis across Greenland. Niall was due to guide an expedition to the Magnetic North Pole in 2011, which was aborted—along with all other expeditions in the region—due to dangerously thin sea ice conditions.

In his career as a zoologist, Niall has specialized on working with endangered species, and has conducted zoological research in the UK, Italy, Mauritius, Bolivia, Namibia, Guyana and Honduras; spending over 21 months living and working in remote and challenging parts of the world. As well as his involvement in research, Niall is actively engaged in ongoing conservation projects in Honduras, Nepal and Guyana.

Niall made his television debut in 2011 with the PBS documentary Lost in the Amazon: The Enigma of Col Fawcett, which aired on the History Channel in the UK. As a result of the success of this documentary, which won two international awards, Niall landed a six-part wildlife adventure series Biggest and Baddest with the Discovery Channel.

Cassie Lee

Cassie Lee
Engineer - Dream Chaser®

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 4 at 6 p.m.

Cassie Kloberdanz Lee is currently the Manager of Business Development for Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser® Space System. In this capacity, Lee facilitates domestic and international relations for strategic teaming and advanced development opportunities for the Dream Chaser orbital vehicle, a vehicle that will return human spaceflight capability to the United States. The Dream Chaser is capable of crewed and uncrewed flight to low Earth orbit, including the transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The Dream Chaser will also offer flight opportunities for microgravity science experiments, satellite servicing, and orbital observation.

Prior to her role in business development, Lee served as one of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s first engineers on the Dream Chaser program as well as the program’s lead for public and media relations. She is a lecturer at the University of Colorado at Boulder in Aerospace Sciences and developed a graduate course in technical communications for Aerospace engineers and space scientists. Her professional experience includes roles in mechanical and aerospace engineering, as well as published works on technical and crisis communications. Formerly head of external relations at SpaceX, Cassie began her career as an engineer with positions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Kennedy Space Center. She holds an M.A. from the University of Colorado and a B.S. from the University of Iowa. She is a native of West Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Dr. Anthony Paustian

Dr. Anthony Paustian
Educator, Author & Designer

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 4 at 10 a.m. and Friday, March 6 at 9 a.m.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Anthony Paustian was given a rare opportunity in life…to develop and create a technology-focused college campus from scratch. Since then the campus and its innovative advances in technology-based instruction have appeared on CNN, CNBC, Wired, USA Today, NPR and other national media and won numerous awards for leadership in innovation including being featured on the InfoWorld 100 List (#51) of the nation’s most innovative organizations. In 2006, Anthony created the Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition; a new type of campus learning environment where students are surrounded by the stories of great innovators through larger-than-life visuals, technology-focused exhibits, and through an annual Celebrate! Innovation Week (ciWeek) where the people behind the stories come from all over the world to tell those stories firsthand. The Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition is currently on the Iowa Department of Tourism’s list of places to visit.

From his Air Force days on F-111s to building national brands to leading a very talented group of educators, Anthony has developed a unique skill set that is quickly apparent in every aspect of his life as a leader, educator, entrepreneur, inventor, designer, author and speaker.

Anthony has written a number of books including Imagine! (©1997 Simon & Schuster) and Bridging the Gap (©2002 Paradigm Publishing). His most recent book, Beware the Purple People Eaters: A Personal Look at Leadership, takes much of his life experience and applies it as a metaphor to encourage readers to take a long, hard look at themselves and improve how they choose to lead each day of their lives.

Anthony holds graduate degrees in educational psychology, business administration and design and is the proud father of two Army soldiers.

Danny Beyer

Danny Beyer
Networking Ninja, Speaker & Author

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Monday, March 2 at 6 p.m.

Danny Beyer is a networking specialist and bow tie aficionado. Through his network he has achieved success in both his professional and personal life. He helped organize the Des Moines Area LinkedIn Social—an event that draws hundreds of professionals from throughout the Greater Des Moines area to build real-life connections. In 2013 he co-founded the Bow Tie Ball, a charity event centered on bow ties and networking that has raised over $20,000 for Young Variety. His book, Ties that Bind: Networking with Style is due on shelves in early 2015.

Danny is a keynote speaker on networking and building real connections and frequently blogs on those topics for the Des Moines Business Record. In 2013 he was chosen as the Amy Jennings Young Professional of the Year through the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Young Professionals Connection and was selected to the 2014 Business Record 40 Under 40 group.

Tom Eakin

Tom Eakin
Author & Speaker

Location: Main Stage
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 3 at 6 p.m.


Tom Eakin is the founder of BoomLife, an organization that helps people achieve values-driven success, and author of Finding Success: Get What You Really Want. Through his writings, workshops and inspirational speaking, Tom helps people find and expand the sweet spot between what they value, what they’re good at, and what their situation requires so they can exceed even their own expectations. Tom is a former U.S. Army Ranger-qualified Combat Engineer officer with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Master’s Certificate in Executive Coaching from Bellevue University and has created stellar performance in teams in a wide range of environments. Originally from the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, Tom lives in Jefferson, South Dakota, near his three children and with his wife, Julie. He is an active and passionate advocate for veterans and entrepreneurs in his community and region.