Get to know the extraordinary 2018 class of TED Fellows
These 20 innovators will share their visionary work from the TED stage at the upcoming TED2018 conference.
It’s almost time for TED! Get to know this year’s incredible new class of TED Fellows, who will be speaking at the upcoming TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, from April 10 to 14. Our TED2018 Fellows are a global band of visionary artists, scientists, activists and inventors with bold approaches to addressing some of the most pressing topics of our day — from climate change to sexual assault to poverty. The TED Fellows program believes deeply in the power of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration to create positive change around the world, and we look forward to seeing what our newest Fellows will accomplish individually and together.
Get to know the TED2018 Fellows below.
Antionette Carroll — Social entrepreneur + designer (USA)
Designer and social entrepreneur Antionette Carroll was living in St Louis, Missouri, during the 2014 protests that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Recognizing the need for a new space of inclusion, creativity and action, she formed Creative Reaction Lab, a social justice nonprofit that supports black and Latinx populations in using social justice–oriented design thinking to create racially equitable communities. Projects that emerged from that first lab ranged from public art initiatives to educational programs — including Cards Against Brutality, a game and curriculum addressing media framing, and Look Beyond Your Fear, a guerrilla street art campaign. Today, the St Louis–based nonprofit educates and engages black and Latinx youth to upend traditional design thinking and address racial inequities within education, government, public service, health and media.
Psychiatrist Essam Daod during a rescue mission on the Greek island of Lesbos in 2015. His organization Humanity Crew provides psychological aid to refugees and recently displaced populations.
Photo: Matias Quirno Costa
Essam Daod — Mental health specialist (Palestine/Israel)
In 2015, child psychiatrist Essam Daod was a volunteer doctor on the Greek island of Lesbos, where he witnessed the unspeakable suffering and trauma of thousands of refugees arriving from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. “I left the island wondering how these people can handle all this loss and trauma without any kind of psychosocial support,” he says. Daod founded the humanitarian aid agency Humanity Crew in 2015 with his wife Maria Jammal to provide such support. With an operating base in Greece, Humanity Crew recruits, trains and deploys mental health professionals and qualified volunteers to deliver psychosocial services to refugees and displaced populations in an effort to improve refugee well-being and prevent further psychological trauma. Leading research in the field of refugee mental health, Humanity Crew ultimately hopes to raise the profile of mental health care as a fundamental aspect of emergency humanitarian crisis response.
Laura Dunn — Victims’ rights attorney (USA)
Laura Dunn is a nationally recognized victims’ rights attorney who in 2014 founded the national nonprofit SurvJustice, which works to increase the prospect of justice for all survivors of campus sexual violence. SurvJustice offers legal assistance to survivors, policy advocacy on victims’ rights and institutional trainings on best practices for prevention of and response to sexual violence. Dunn represents survivors in campus hearings and civil litigation. She also routinely serves as an expert consultant and witness on sexual assault cases. As the only national organization providing legal assistance to survivors in campus hearings across the United States, SurvJustice is ultimately working to create cultural norms around sexual respect and survivor support.
Hope Hospital in Syria. After the hospital was bombed, Rola Hallam and her organization CanDo crowdfunded enough money in just over two weeks to rebuild and run the hospital for three months.
Rola Hallam — Humanitarian aid entrepreneur (Syria/UK)
After war broke out in her home country of Syria, British-Syrian anesthesiologist Rola Hallam wanted to use her medical expertise to work directly with Syrian NGOs to help save lives. She co-founded Hand in Hand for Syria, which played an integral part in building seven hospitals in northern Syria. But Hallam wanted to make sure local aid organizations — not just international NGOs — had support, too. In 2016, she founded CanDo, a social enterprise that enables local humanitarians from war-devastated areas to provide aid to their own communities through global crowdfunding. CanDo also supports these NGOs with its accelerator program. To date, CanDo has helped raise $400,000 from over 5,000 donors around the world. Hallam also works as a global advocate to press decision-makers to stop the targeting of civilians in war zones, and for the protection of medical neutrality.
Glaciologist M Jackson studies glaciers like this one — the glacier Svínafellsjökull in southeastern Iceland.
Photo: James Bernal
M Jackson — Geographer + glaciologist (USA)
Glaciologist M Jackson researches the cultural and social impacts of climate change on communities across all eight circumpolar nations. She has worked for over a decade in the Arctic, chronicling the impacts of climate change there, guiding backcountry trips and exploring glacial systems. She is also an advocate for making glaciology more inclusive and for expanding conventional scientific practices to include indigenous and local knowledge. Her 2015 book While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Changeweaves together parallel stories of what happens when the climates of both a family and a planet change, and her upcoming book The Secret Lives of Glacierstells the stories of Icelandic people and glaciers through the lens of climatic change. She’s currently working on “In Tangible Ice,” a multiyear Arctic project examining the socio-physical dimensions of glacier retreat in near-glacier communities.
Saran Kaba Jones — Clean water advocate (Libera/USA)
Forced to flee Liberia with her family when she was just 8 years old, Saran Kaba Jones returned home 20 years later to help her country access clean and safe drinking water. Today, her company FACE Africa works to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last nine years, FACE has built more than 60 clean water and sanitation systems using local materials and local labor, benefiting more than 100,000 people in rural Liberia. FACE Africa is now at work on an initiative to bring clean water to more than 750,000 people in three counties in Liberia using multiple water-provision techniques, including drilled and hand-dug wells in large communities and household water filtration systems in remote, last-mile communities.
Yasin Kakande — Investigative journalist + author (Uganda)
Investigative journalist Yasin Kakande works undercover in the Middle East to expose human rights abuses of migrant workers. He investigates the reasons why Africans choose to migrate to the Middle East, Europe and America, and traces the severe consequences of countries closing their borders to African migrants. A migrant himself, first to the Middle East and recently to the US, Kakande is the author of two books: Slave States: The Practice of Kafala in the Gulf Arab Region, an exposé of the enslavement, trafficking and abuse of workers in the Gulf Arab region, and The Ambitious Struggle: An African Journalist’s Journey of Hope and Identity in a Land of Migrants.
In one of her long-term projects, “The Three: Senior Love Triangle,” documentary photographer Isadora Kosofsky shadowed a three-way relationship between aged individuals in Los Angeles, California — Jeanie (81), Will (84) and Adina (90). Here, Jeanie and Will kiss one day after a fight.
Isadora Kosokfsy — Photojournalist + filmmaker (USA)
Isadora Kosofsky began taking photographs after the death of her grandmother. Then just age 14, Kosofsky found solace in photographing individuals in retirement and nursing homes around her city of Los Angeles, California. Today, she devotes herself to documenting American social issues from a humanistic stance, exploring underrepresented communities such as senior citizens, developmentally disabled people and incarcerated youth. She takes an immersive approach, working with her subjects for years at a time, and believes that the relationships she forms with her long-term subjects are often tantamount to the image-making itself. Currently, Kosofsky is working on a documentary project about young women ages 15 to 25 and the effects of early childhood violence and Complex PTSD on their intimate lives.
Adam Kucharski — Infectious disease scientist (UK)
Adam Kucharski creates mathematical and computational approaches to help understand how epidemics like Zika and Ebola spread, and how to better control them. During the 2013 to 2016 Ebola epidemic, he worked on real-time modeling analysis in West Africa, advising on disease containment strategies. He has also led analysis of influenza, dengue fever and Zika outbreaks. His research is providing new insights into how Zika spread prior to the Latin American epidemic, and shows how social behavior can shape influenza outbreaks. His popular science articles have appeared in such publications as The Observer, Financial Times, New Scientist and Scientific American. Currently, Kucharski is developing new ways to extract reliable insights about disease transmission from unreliable surveillance data.
Developed by environmental entrepreneur Romain Lacombe, Flow makes it easy to measure harmful pollutants both indoors and out with an easy-to-read display and 360-degree air intake.
Photo: Plume Labs
Romain Lacombe — Environmental entrepreneur (France)
With his environmental technology startup Plume Labs, inventor Romain Lacombe builds advanced technologies to help citizens measure, track, map and forecast the quality of the air they breathe. Plume’s free mobile app sends live smog alerts to help users take action against pollution. “Air quality is the first avoidable cause of death today,” Lacombe says. “Yet no tech company or government agency addresses it with our focus, resolve and citizen-centric approach.” Lacombe’s team is currently developing Flow, a wearable air-quality sensor that analyzes ambient air quality, alerting users as well as creating crowdsourced air-quality maps
Lucy Marcil — Pediatrician + social entrepreneur (USA)
Pediatrician Lucy Marcil helps low-income families tackle their financial problems in an effort to decrease stress and improve child health. In 2015, along with fellow pediatrician Michael Hole, Marcil founded StreetCred, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps families file taxes and apply for such social and financial services as the Earned Income Tax Credit — the United States’ largest anti-poverty program — from the safety of their doctor’s waiting room. While such services have been proven to improve health and well-being, they are typically difficult to access. “Families trust their doctors, making hospitals and clinics an excellent place to provide them with free tax preparation and financial coaching, job training and child care,” Marcil says. Over the last two years, StreetCred has returned over $1.6 million to 750 families, and it is now piloting an initiative to provide families with a bundle of services to create financial stability.
Astrophysicist Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, who helped discover a new Hoag-type galaxy, nicknamed “Burçin’s Galaxy.”
Photo: Valerie Coit
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil — Astrophysicist (Turkey/USA)
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil studies the structure and dynamics of galaxies. Her own discovery—a rare, double-ringed elliptical galaxy nicknamed “Burçin’s Galaxy” — challenges our current theories and assumptions about how the universe works. As a Muslim woman, an immigrant astronomer and the first generation in her family to attend university, Mutlu-Pakdil is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the scientific community. “As a female astronomer, I dream to be an inspiring role model who shows everyone that science can be both enjoyable and reachable for anyone, especially for women,” she says. As a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona, Mutlu-Pakdil is currently searching for the smallest galaxies in the nearby universe, a key to understanding early galaxy formation.
Faith Osier — Infectious disease doctor (Kenya/Germany)
Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of children in Africa each year, leaving many survivors with lifelong disabilities. Kenyan immunologist Faith Osierstudies how humans acquire immunity to the disease, translating her research into new, highly effective malaria vaccines. “The solution I see is a return to basics, using the most advanced technology to go back to the malaria parasite and determine which proteins are responsible for the type of antibodies that eliminate malaria infections,” she says. Osier also trains African scientists, equipping them to be global leaders who can contribute to Africa’s economic growth through the eradication of disease. She is currently working as a researcher at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany and is the founder of the South-South Malaria Antigen Research ParTnership (SMART)network, which allows scientific collaborators from African countries to share samples and resources to accelerate vaccine development.
In Birth of a Nation (2015), artist Paul Rucker recasts Ku Klux Klan robes in vibrant, contemporary fabrics like spandex, kente cloth, camouflage and white satin — a reminder that the horrors of slavery and the Jim Crow South still define the contours of American life today.
Photo: Rafael Soldi
Paul Rucker — Visual artist + cellist (USA)
Multidisciplinary artist Paul Rucker explores issues related to mass incarceration, racially motivated violence, police brutality and the continuing social and economic impact of slavery in the United States. For his 2009 data visualization project Proliferation, for instance, he illustrated the rapid growth of the US prison system from 1778 to 2008, setting the animation to his own cello composition. For his 2015 project Birth of a Nation, he made a new Ku Klux Klan robe every week for a year, recasting the robes in vibrant, contemporary fabrics like spandex, kente cloth and camouflage — a reminder that the horrors of slavery and the Jim Crow South still define the contours of American life. “Art can teach history,” Rucker says. “It has the power to make visible that which too often goes unseen and unacknowledged.”
Kaitlyn Sadtler — Regenerative tissue engineer (USA)
Tissue engineer Kaitlyn Sadtler harnesses the body’s immune system to create regenerative systems that mend muscles and heal wounds quickly. While working on her PhD at Johns Hopkins University, Sadtler discovered an immune cell critical for muscle regeneration. Now a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, she works to promote tissue regeneration using scaffolds created with synthetic materials, like degradable plastics, as well as with biological materials, like collagen — integrating immunology with bioengineering. “If we give injured tissue the correct environment, we can regenerate a functional replacement organ,” she says. “This field will transform our methods of regenerating tissue, decreasing the need for organ transplants and allowing us to treat previously untreatable wounds.” Currently, Sadtler is building connections between researchers in immunology and bioengineering to help promote discoveries in regenerative medicine.
DeAndrea Salvador — Environmental justice advocate (USA)
In the US, low-income families pay more for energy: while an energy bill totalling more than 6% of a household’s income is considered unaffordable, low-income households often pay more than 20% of their income on energy. Sustainability expert DeAndrea Salvador is working to change that. In 2014, she founded Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI), a nonprofit that advocates for inclusive clean-energy policies that help low-income families sustainably reduce their energy costs with access to cutting-edge technology. Salvador also sits on the board of directors for Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), which gives youth tools to create community change, and serves on the Mecklenburg County Air Quality Commission, addressing air-quality improvements and concerns. Ultimately, Salvador hopes to mobilize community-centered approaches to decrease energy costs and increase quality of life.
Harbor seal patient Bogey gets a checkup at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. Veterinarian Claire Simeone studies marine mammals like harbor seals to understand how the health of animals, humans and our oceans are interrelated.
Photo: Ingrid Overgard/The Marine Mammal Center
Claire Simeone — Marine mammal veterinarian (USA)
Veterinarian and conservationist Claire Simeone studies how the health of marine mammals influences human and ocean health, emphasizing the interrelatedness of human and animal well-being. With a background in marine mammal medicine and wildlife conservation, Simeone is hospital director at The Marine Mammal Center in Ke Kai Ola, Hawaii, the world’s only rehabilitation hospital dedicated to endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Having recently completed a study of neurologic disease in sea lions housed in zoos and aquaria, Simeone currently investigates new medical therapies for marine mammals.
Kotchakorn Voraakhom — Urban landscape architect (Thailand)
Landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom tackles climate change and urban ecological problems through novel landscape architectural design. She is the founder of Landprocess, a Bangkok-based design firm that builds public green spaces and green infrastructure, aiming both to increase urban resilience and to protect vulnerable communities from the devastating effects of climate change. She’s also the founder and CEO of Porous City Network, a landscape architecture social enterprise working to increase urban resilience in Southeast Asian cities, where flooding and water scarcity are exacerbated by dense urban settings. Voraakhom has designed Chulalongkorn Centennial Park, a major urban ecological park in the heart of Bangkok, as well as productive public green spaces along the floodplain and coastal areas of the city.
Olga Yurkova with part of her StopFake team in Ukraine.
Photo: Olga Yurkova
Olga Yurkova — Journalist + editor (Ukraine)
Journalist and editor Olga Yurkova is the cofounder of StopFake, an independent website that fact checks news media in order to verify or refute information emerging about Ukraine. As the originator of the idea, she helped launch the website in 2014 with a group of lecturers, graduates and students at the Mohyla School of Journalism in response to Russian propaganda efforts around the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. While StopFake began as a volunteer community, it has since evolved into a sophisticated fact-checking and media organization with an international cohort of fact checkers, covering media sources in 11 languages. StopFake also conducts academic research on fake news and offers institutional training. To date, the organization has verified tens of thousands of articles, photos and videos, and revealed more than 1,000 misleading news items.
Mikhail Zygar — Journalist + historian (Russia)
Journalist and writer Mikhail Zygar covers contemporary and historical Russia. From 2010 to 2015 he served as the editor-in-chief of Dozhd, the only independent news TV channel in Russia. Last year, he founded Project 1917, a digital documentary project that narrates the 1917 Russian Revolution in an effort to contextualize modern-day Russian issues. Providing a day-by-day account of that catalytic year through historical documents, including personal letters and diaries, Project1917 offers insight into what people were thinking and doing as the revolution unfolded. Zygar’s bestselling book All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin, based on unprecedented interviews with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, presents a radical view of power and politics in Russia. His latest book, The Empire Must Die: Russia’s Revolutionary Collapse, 1900–1917, portrays the vivid civil drama of the years leading up to the Russian Revolution.
The TED Fellows program hand-picks young innovators from around the world to raise international awareness of their work and maximize their impact.