2017 Speakers

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Christos Chantzaras

Christos has been fascinated by how architecture can affect innovation and entrepreneurship since he graduated from the Technical University of Munich a decade ago. After obtaining diplomas in both architecture and management, he first started working as an architect on housing, office and innovation spaces, and later as a planning director and strategy consultant for large-scale research and production facilities. His projects took Christos to China for several years, where he co-directed the branch office of an architectural firm. He then moved to Berlin to focus on the strategic development of early-stage building projects in Europe and the US. He set up an interdisciplinary team that looked into broadening the range of architecture’s applicable areas, but felt this did not have enough impact on his initial problem.

Christos decided to take a break from industry and re-direct experiences he gained at the interface of organizational change, innovation research and architecture to an academic career. As researcher and lecturer at the TUM Department of Architecture, his mission is to open the field of architecture by introducing co-creation and innovation. In his doctoral thesis, he investigates how architectural thinking and tools can be applied to the analysis and design of innovation processes. Through his initiative and deep-seated belief in expanding traditional architectural thinking and applicability, he is supporting the department to transform its research lab into an Architecture Research Incubator. Expanding the definition of architecture is a long process, almost like a marathon, which perfectly suits Christos and his passion for long-distance running.

Ramona Hacker

Ramona was born and raised in Munich. She finished school with her ‘Abitur’, and after briefly exploring university life, she started training as a management assistant for marketing communications. At some point, she realized that this was not enough and began studying English and American Studies with a minor in the History of Arts and Cultures in the University of Augsburg. She is now following up with a Masters in World Heritage Studies at the BTU Cottbus.

During her studies, Ramona volunteered at a local soccer club and later for the student organization AIESEC, which matches students to internships and volunteering jobs abroad. It was this voluntary work that led her to the topic of her talk at TEDxTUM, which can be quite unexpected within the environment of a technical university - emotional intelligence. Ramona feels most in her element when she’s around people and traveling, and she can’t wait to meet the TEDxTUM audience.

Angelika Kneidl

Angelika is an expert in modelling and simulating crowd behaviour. Since first hearing of the field, Angelika has passionately sought to notice patterns in daily life and imitate the nuances of human behaviour in computers.
Angelika completed her PhD thesis at Technische Universität München in 2013, with a focus on how to model pedestrians’ navigational behaviour in microscopic crowd simulations. Following her doctorate, Angelika founded accu:rate together with Florian Sesser. Their company offers SaaS and consulting services in pedestrian dynamics simulation. This can include modelling and visualizing the behavior of large crowds at events, and whenever many people share a common space. During the last three years, Angelika has collaborated extensively with crowd managers, building planners, safety experts and infrastructural planners to optimize pedestrian flows, improve building layouts and ensure safety at events. Iconic companies and authorities are among accu:rate’s clients: Neuschwanstein Castle, Munich Airport, and major event managers HanseSail in Rostock and “Landshuter Hochzeit 1475". In February 2017, accu:rate launched the crowd simulation software crowd:it.
Today, Angelika shares her knowledge by speaking at international research events and industry conferences. Most importantly, by pursuing teaching positions at several universities, Angelika wishes to pass on her knowledge to students and inspire the next generation to pursue crowd modelling and simulation. Ultimately, Angelika’s hope is that building models becomes more intuitive and human-centered.

Manuel Opitz

As a child, Manuel dreamed of becoming a great scientist, but he was soon to realize that he was too inquisitive to stick to one single topic of interest. His thirst for exploration led him to study any new technology that he came across, to understand its potential. After majoring in industrial engineering at RWTH Aachen with detours to bioengineering at Trinity College Dublin, he gained practical experience in technology scouting and innovation management in Germany, China and Switzerland. He then pursued an MBA program at Collège des Ingénieurs in Paris and went on to join an IP brokerage startup, where he was responsible for medical and production technology patents.

In 2016, Manuel co-founded Mecuris, with a team of experienced entrepreneurs, physicians, designers, and experts in computer vision and machine learning. Together they move orthopaedic care into the digital world by bringing together 3D technologies into one intuitive solution platform for prosthetics and orthotics design. Mecuris envisions a future in which medical professionals are empowered to 3D-print prostheses and braces within 48 hours, and patients can co-design their own devices.

Today, Manuel analyzes orthopedic production processes to identify areas of high automation potential, through the aid of digital tailoring, for all parties involved - doctors, technicians and patients. As a regular speaker at additive manufacturing and medical technology congresses, he aims to bring healthcare into the 21st century through better integration of digitization and 3D printing.

Laura Fabbietti

Though an avid literature enthusiast in high school, Laura Fabbietti decided it was too static to study at university, so instead to dedicate her life to what she thought was the most difficult subject ever: physics. She loved three-dimensional thinking and the idea of building detectors to measure particles and learn about what we think is the story of our universe.

Today, Laura’s work is centered around hadron physics, a branch of nuclear physics that tries to understand how particles interact. Born close to the mountains in Bergamo, Italy, she studied in Milan and came to Munich 19 years ago, first to obtain her PhD and later succeeding her advisor to become the professor for Dense and Strange Hadronic Matter at TUM. Her group focuses on studying the behavior of quarks and hadrons, important for the study and characterization of neutron stars.

When she’s not working, Laura watches TV shows and knits, and has been a running junkie for 30 years. She also really enjoys going to church. Laura likes to cook for and entertain her friends to thank them for being patient with her, and loves Munich for its ability to simultaneously feel like a little village as well as a sinful city.

Monica Boța-Moisin

Monica is a cultural intellectual property lawyer based in Berlin. She focuses
on creating a framework for protecting traditional cultural expressions and building bridges
between traditional craftsmanship and the high fashion industry. She is the promoter of a legislative
initiative in Romania protecting the traditional Romanian blouse, Romanian designs and traditional cultural expressions, and in late 2015 joined La Blouse Roumaine as a pro-bono legal counsel and
coordinator of the advocacy group for legal protection of traditional designs. The author of various
legal articles in both Romanian and foreign publications, Monica has pioneered the terms ‘cultural
intellectual property’ and ‘traditional identity design’ within Romanian academia.

Monica has a long history in active citizenship. She is a member of the European Youth Parliament, where she has been acting as a trainer and debate moderator for over 10 years. In 2013, she graduated both from the Faculty of Law at the University of Bucharest and from the Collège Juridique Franco-Roumain, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During her studies, she also spent time at the Fordham Law Summer Institute in New York. Currently in Berlin, Monica is focusing on textile management in fashion and fashion law. She also writes a blog on textile stories and traditional designs which was inspired by her travels.

Jürgen Gradl

Jürgen believes in student assessments that measure more than just grade point averages. He helped develop the Deutschlandstipendium, a scholarship which factors a wide variety of life experiences, including volunteering experience, migratory background, and/or parenthood, into recipient selection. Together with his students, in 2014 he founded the social initiative “Talente Spenden” (Donate Your Talent), which supports scholarship recipients wanting to give back to society establish their own initiatives and events. This initiative has galvanized additional volunteer and community events, like blood donation, study support for refugees and active preservation and restoration of ecological areas .

Operating in close contact with various institutions, companies and people of all backgrounds through his work, Jürgen realized that despite differing areas of expertise, economic standing, or age, most of his clients and students are concerned about similar issues. He noticed these concerns popping up worldwide lately, challenges to our notions of democracy and liberal ideas – not only on the large scale, but also in daily life. Global politics seem to increasingly focus on problems instead of solutions. That is something he wants to change.

Currently Jürgen is working on an initiative to grow and strengthen solidarity. He believes solidarity is a basic virtue of a liberal democratic society, where individuals are having many rights but also empathize with and take care of one another. Through working together, people will discover that the things that unite them far outweigh the things that divide them, and how we can learn to respect each other’s differences.

Daniel Aaron Donahue

Growing up in a small town in the mountains of Canada, Daniel Aaron has had a keen interest in all aspects of biology since a young age, and is fascinated by viruses. During his university studies he was involved in research on plant biotechnology, ecology, viruses that kill cancer cells, and DNA replication. Inspired by how scientific research can have an impact on improving the lives of millions, Aaron’s PhD work at McGill University in Montreal focused on new antiviral drugs and HIV cure approaches.

An immunologist and virologist, his postdoctoral studies brought him to the Pasteur Institute in Paris where he has been working to understand the details of how HIV interacts with cells of the immune system. Aaron is driven by a desire to uncover the details of how pathogens infect cells, using this knowledge in collaboration with his colleagues to test novel approaches to treat or cure human diseases. He enjoys scientific outreach and communication, with audiences ranging from school students to scientific experts. When he isn’t in the lab or talking about science, Aaron can often be found behind the lens of a camera or exploring the outdoors.

Nils Thuerey

Nils is an assistant professor at the Technical University of Munich. He works in the field of computer graphics and develops methods that use deep learning to model real world physical behaviors. One focus area of his research is developing fluid phenomena simulations to produce realistic depictions of fluids, such as water and smoke. These simulations are important for visual effects in computer-generated movies and digital games, and typically require huge amounts of computations in order to create a realistic picture to be shown on screen. Amongst other research, Nils and his team focus on developing novel algorithms to make simulations easier to control, to handle detailed surface tension effects, and to increase the amount of turbulent detail.

After studying computer science at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nils remained there and continued to work on simulating liquids, earning his PhD in 2006. Afterwards, he was a post-doctoral researcher at ETH Zurich until 2010. Nils was awarded a technical Oscar from the AMPAS in 2013 for his research on controllable smoke effects, and for developing a software that facilitates easier editing of explosions and smoke effects for films. Subsequently, he worked for three years as the R&D lead at the visual effects company ScanlineVFX, before he assumed his current position at TUM in October 2013.

Taz Alam

Taz graduated with a law degree from Cardiff University in 2015. After graduating she went through a period of feeling lost and it was during this difficult time that she discovered her love for spoken word poetry. She was particularly drawn to how spoken word is an impactful way of expressing powerful messages, and how it gave her a voice at a time where she felt the most helpless. Taz started posting videos online talking about difficult topics ranging from mental health, social issues, and body image, transforming them into empowering poems. She gradually grew her audience and now uses her platform to give a voice to vulnerable people. Throughout this process of learning about herself - where her purpose, potential and passions lie - spoken word poetry has given her the rewarding opportunity to connect and engage with like-minded people worldwide.

Kai Stuht

Kai began his photography career in the 1990s focusing on sports, and dabbled in many fields honing his individual artistic style. His dramatically staged, cinematic worlds appeal to the subconscious, and his philosophical ideas are reflected in his campaigns and artistic works. Today, Kai specializes in photographing VIPs, celebrities and major fashion figures. In his roles as photographer and creative director, he is a widely acclaimed, international trendsetter with his own unique editorial design style.
Kai has been editor-in-chief of the magazines „USELESS – Fashion vs. Athletes“ and „USELESS — The Red Flag“ since 2004. He was also the third German photographer to be admitted to the high-end celebrity portraiture brand “Contour by Getty Images”. Amongst other campaigns, he started Project Fovea, where he explores in depth how our intuition shapes our perception. Kai lives and works as freelance artist in Berlin.

Jessamyn Fairfield

Jessamyn is a physicist specializing in nanomaterials and neuromorphic devices. She is originally from the U.S., and grew up in Los Alamos, the home of the atomic bomb. Her research at the National University of Ireland Galway focuses on materials which can heal themselves and electronics built to learn the way your brain does, all using wires tinier than a human hair. Her job is to take this vision from science fiction to science fact!

In addition to research and teaching, Jessamyn loves to talk about science. She runs Bright Club in Ireland, a variety night for lateral minds, because she liked the idea of a variety night where comedy, music, and ideas come together. She also appears frequently on Futureproof, the Newstalk science radio show, and gives lots of public talks. Jessamyn thinks that comedy improv is a lot of fun, a life skill, and deeply related to science. She also loves to play music, swim, dance, and jump around, and has been known to run a marathon or two.

Thomas Hildebrandt

Thomas Hildebrandt sometimes has difficulties describing his job to other people. The closest example would be a gynecologist at a fertility clinic, except that the patients in his case are rhinos, elephants and other wild animals.

Before becoming one of the world’s leading experts on wildlife reproduction management, Thomas began his veterinary career by working on a dairy farm in Brandenburg. After a stint as a pathology assistant at the veterinary medicine department of Humboldt University in Berlin, he earned his doctor’s license while working as a scientific researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, and since 1997 has been the head of the department of reproduction management there. In addition, Thomas is professor of wildlife reproduction medicine at the Free University of Berlin, is an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, and earned many awards for his outstanding work.

In addition to many international collaborations to further improve animal reproduction management, Thomas and his department develop new reproductive technologies and imaging techniques to continue helping their animal patients. Currently, one of their biggest challenges is protecting the white rhino from extinction, as there are sadly only three of them left in the wild.

Thomas Bock

Prof. Thomas Bock believes that automation, robotics and mechatronics when embedded in the built environment form the key to solve society’s challenges in the future. Through the use of space technologies and the unique combination of sub systemic technologies with ambient systems that house our daily work and life, he tries to propose a new work and life style in a rapidly changing socio-cultural setting.
As a researcher, Prof. Bock worked on the first generation construction robotics in Japan and designed life support systems for space hotels and colonies. He used these concepts for affordable development of robotic ambience to enable happy and independent work life balance for the elderly even though they might be constrained to a wheelchair. His background education is in architecture, civil engineering and robotics. He practiced in different countries for ten years namely Europe, Iran, North & Central America, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia. He uses his experience for finding unconventional solutions to everyday challenges of the elderly. He established a cross-disciplinary Master of Science program in Advanced Construction Building Technology and is teaching students from seven different faculties in an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural way. He holds several honorary professorships, doctorates and is the founding member of the International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction (IAARC). In addition to being an editorial member of journals and associate editor of Construction Robotics Springer Journal, he has published over 450 articles and is publishing a five volume handbook for construction robotics for Cambridge University Press that he started in 2015. The fifth volume, dealing with the topic of robotic ambience from space age to age space is due to be published in 2018 and it is also going to be connected to the idea of his TEDx talk.