Jan Goetgeluk is the founder and CEO of Virtuix and the developer of the Virtuix Omni, the first virtual reality interface to move freely and naturally in video games and virtual worlds.
Jan is originally from Belgium and came to Houston in 2007 as a Project Engineer for Katoen Natie, a Belgian petrochemical logistics conglomerate. Jan decided to stay in the US and left Katoen Natie to obtain his MBA degree at Rice University in Houston, where he became President of the Rice Finance Club and Founder and Chair of the inaugural Rice Energy Finance Summit in 2009. While at Rice, Jan received the Jones Citizen award for his leadership contributions to the business school and the Jones Scholar award for his academic performance.
Upon graduation in 2010, Jan joined JP Morgan as an Investment Banker in the Natural Resources coverage group in Houston and New York. While working as an investment banking associate, Jan started developing the Omni after hours in early 2011, In February 2013, after two years of researching, experimenting, and prototyping, Jan decided to leave his full-time job and founded Virtuix to bring the Omni to market. In June 2013, Jan launched the Omni Kickstarter campaign, raising $1.1 million through the sale of more than 2,500 Omnis. To date, more than 3,000 Omnis have been sold.
In his 30+ year career, Dr. Justiz has ranged from test pilot to professor to author. A first generation Cuban-American, Justiz holds a doctorate degree from the University of Houston for his research in Thermo Physics and Plasma Dynamics and is a NASA Doctoral Fellow. Starting as a T-38 pilot in 1975, he has accumulated over 16,000 flight hours in over 100 different types of aircraft including theT-38, Boeing 747-SCA, STA, G1, G2, G3, WB-57, NC-130, KC-135, UH-1, Bell 47G, F-4, F-15, F-16, F-18 as well as thirty different types of light aircraft.
He spent a tour of duty as an Instructor Pilot in the U.S. Air Force as well as a tour of duty of flight test. He has been rated as both an Instructor Pilot and an Examiner Pilot in the Astronaut T-38 and the Shuttle Training Aircraft STA. In the STA, he has over 30 years of experience and over 15,000 Shuttle approaches. He flew NASA’s zero-g aircraft for over fifteen years and has over 20,000 reduced gravity parabolas in the infamous “vomit comet”. NASA rated him as an Instructor Pilot in the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on which he ferried Space Shuttles across the country. Dr. Justiz is currently the Aviation Safety and Operations consultant for several Fortune 100 flight departments.
David J. Neff. helps Non Profits and people for a living. He is a Teacher, Speaker, Blogger, Network Weaver, and Social Media Scientist. To pay the bills and have more of them he is the founder of his own non profit called Lights.Camera.Help. (LCH) and is the co-founder and COO of a start up called HelpAttack!. He is also Senior Digital Strategist over at Ridgewood: Ingenious Communications Strategies during the day.
For over 9 years David worked at the American Cancer Society (ACS) where he directed all Web and Interactive strategies and online properties for 6 states. At ACS his department managed the Division's eRevenue strategy, Social Networking/Media strategy, Online Community strategy, Film and PSA Production, and all online properties for the High Plains Division.
He also believes everyone, specially you, should do stand up comedy at least once in your life. The insights you will learn from that experience might just change everything!
Designers and architects must, out of necessity, have an altruistic approach to our work on the grand scale … if the ethic isn’t there, then we’re not doing a good job. The real object is to improve people’s lives, and to have a little fun while doing it.
While at Rice University working on his Masters in Architecture, Ned studied ecological design strategies and management with an eye towards the built environment. This evolved into a philosophy regarding the active role of biology in design, as well as different ways to expand and explore the edge between humans and surrounding non-human “others.”
That philosophy now informs all of his work; as Director of Caroline Collective, Houston’s first and largest coworking space, a founding board member of C2 Creative, a non-profit resource for creative business development, as a Design Director at PDR in Houston or in the ways he fosters creative communities through his committee work at the Architecture Center Houston and the Rice Design Alliance.
"Dr. Ricky" (@drricky) is the online persona of a Houston-based food blogger, and has served as a member of the Fearless Critic Houston council reviewing Houston restaurants. Profesionally, he is a practicing biomedical research scientist in the field of microbiology and genomics. The blog sciencebasedcuisine.org is not purely a food blog, nor even a food science blog, but an educational outreach to teach science in the context of food, cuisine and cooking. The aim is to transform food culture itself by incorporating scientific reasoning therein.
A Texas Poet Laureate nominee and Ranked 25t in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2012, Outspoken Bean lives up to his stage name. He started performing spoken-word in 2003. In 2006, he made the poetry slam teams for both San Antonio and Houston. In his senior year at Prairie View A&M, Bean founded and coached the University’s first poetry slam team. In their first year, under Bean’s mentorship, they won the number one title in their region and went on to an impressive eighth place ranking in the country.
In addition to traveling the country performing, Bean has worked with the Harris County Department of Education, Writers in the Schools, Houston’s Young Audiences: Arts for Learning and Texas Commission for the Arts, Houston Grand Opera, and among others. He also serves as the Program Director, Lead Coach and mentor for Meta-Four Houston, a non-profit organization that uses reading, creative writing, poetry and performance techniques to increase literacy, instill critical thinking, intersect cultures and inspire leadership in today’s youth.
For someone who shies away from associating himself with labels, Ayokunle "Ayo" Falomo seems quite comfortable with being introduced as a Poet. Recently, another label he's been fascinated with is "Human." He aims with his work as a poet to explore the overlap between those two labels (a poet is human after all!, maybe?) His pen as his shovel, he intends "to dig deep into the soil of our souls to unearth the things that make us all human." Fascinated with the musicality of words, he likes to take long walks while doing his most favorite thing – talking to himself, which he does... a lot. Other times, he is fortunate to have others listen...
Adriana E. Ramirez is a nonfiction writer, storyteller, and performance poet based in Pittsburgh and Houston, where she is writing a book about her death fantasies, Colombia, and the way we tell stories around violence. She roots for El Tricolor in the World Cup, loves the Oxford comma, and sometimes teaches in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of Rice University (B.A., 2005) and the University of Pittsburgh (MFA, 2009); her intellectual interests include violence, code-switching, digital literature, remix culture, video games, confessional poetry, and testimonio. Once ranked the 26th slam poet in the world (Individual World Poetry Slam, 2006), she used to co-host the Latino/Indigenous Showcase at the National Poetry Slam and now runs the Steel City Slam in Pittsburgh, while continuing to perform on stages around the country. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Convolution, HEArt, and Nerve.com. Her first collection of poetry, Trusting in Imaginary Spaces is forthcoming from Tired Hearts Press.
He is the World Ambassador for WorldSkills International for professional skills education, Brazil's Ambassador for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and President of Astronaut Marcos Pontes Foundation. Astronaut Marcos Pontes Foundation (ASTROPONTES) is a nonprofit organization created to promote Education, Science and Technology as social and environmental improvement tools for better quality of life on the Planet.
In partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Government of the State of Roraima, in Brazil, the Astronaut Marcos Pontes Foundation is responsible for transforming the state of Roraima into the first "eco-state" of the planet, to serve as a practical sustainable development model for the world.
Engineer By Study, Scientist by Profession, Explorer by Heart
Don has also hung out in space a few times in his life.
Tara has worked for some of the most important labs on earth, and outside of earth. She is also the co-founder of of Valeo Human Systems.
In her spare time, Tara enjoys scuba diving, cooking, home-improvement projects, eating good food, and being with her husband and friends.
The former Houston marketing and PR executive didn’t even know what a PSA was until such an inadvertent test of his blood led to a biopsy, revealing a low-grade prostate cancer.
After meeting top physicians across the country, Canales became educated about the anticancer lifestyle and learned that his own cancer, currently under active surveillance, could have been prevented.
That galvanized Canales into awareness – and action. He quickly launched the non-profit Blue Cure Foundation, which educates and empowers all men "but especially a younger generation." Canales wrote in the Huffington Post Prostate Cancer Prevention Begins When Men Are Boys and has led a clarion call that the conversation must change with a greater focus on prevention.
As founder, president and spokesman for Blue Cure – the men’s side of women's "pink" movement for breast cancer – Canales has spoken at conferences across America and has appeared on media in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Houston and other cities to alert people that America’s top cancer killer of men must be stopped. With Blue Cure now his life’s work, he continues to use his PR and marketing skills to spread that word.
In 2012 - with 13 years experience as a middle school social studies teacher behind him - Brennan co founded Histrionix Learning Company (with Jason Darnell). In other words, Brennan is a teacher turned learning game designer and entrepreneur.
That same year, HISTORIA - the company's curriculum aligned social studies simulation and strategy game - was featured in both The Atlantic & PLAYMAKERS - a film series produced by Institute of Play and The Gates Foundation and distributed by Fast Company.
In 2013, Histrionix was hired by GlassLab to build a complete core curriculum catalog to accompany Electronic Arts release of SimCity as part of the SimCityEdu project team.
Recently, Histrionix formed a pair of publishing partnerships with E - Line Media and Upper One Games to build HISTORIA into a classroom-ready digital learning game, which will be released in Spring 2014.
Currently, Histrionix works with Houston based Neighborhood Centers (NCI) - a United Way Agency that provides a full spectrum of social services to communities in need - including schooling. Over the next few years, Histrionix will help design and build NCI's Ripley House public charter middle school into a game-based learning academy, which will open in August 2013.
Piper is one of those unique individuals who has the ability to take information from several different disciplines and make sense of the overlapping patterns in a way that provides insight into the deeper principles of life.
Her most recent synthesizing project has been finding the incredible parallels between leadership on a social level and leadership in the physical realm of dance. As a competitive level swing dancer, she has spent much time observing how one person can communicate an idea to another through a series of "leads" or physical cues. It was during these observations that she noticed that the same things that make an individual physically effective makes them socially effective.
It is her passion to teach people how to find these patterns in themselves and in the process create whatever level of effectiveness they wish for the areas of life that are important to them. If you ever want to find her outside of a TEDx talk, be sure to look for her on the dance floor.
James Templeton is a Houston-based musician, artist and media producer. Currently, he is a partner in the video firm DINOLION.
Born and raised in Alvin Texas, James dropped out of college to pursue music with the prog. rock band By The End Of The Night. They signed with Temporary Residence (Explosions in the Sky, Pinback, The Books), produced five releases, and toured for the better part of four years. After BTEOT, James began a solo project called LIMB resulting in 5 releases of his own (The Shape of Punk For Some, Smootherboy Saga, The Reconstructionist, But Rage at What, The Windchime Shuffle). The LIMB is a multimedia parade combining a trap set, midi triggers, lights, video and a variety of soundscapes.
James has also co-curated two material specific art shows challenging Houston artists to be inspired by coping with limitations while having complete freedom to use and transform these materials into visual, interactive, and aural experiences. The first show provided 10-15 artists of different mediums with over-head projectors, while the second gave 25 artists use of nearly 10,000 donated vinyl records. James has two more shows in the works, including an exhibition of his own with artist Joshua Alan Smith., and the other, a collaboration with DINOLION, and artist/musician/comedian, Devin Finch.
Sarah Cortez, a native Houstonian and member of the Texas Institute of Letters, is the author of an acclaimed poetry collection, How to Undress a Cop, and winner of the PEN Texas literary award in poetry. She has edited Urban Speak: Poetry of the City and Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives, winner of the 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award. She has also edited Hit List:
The Best of Latino Mystery, Indian Country Noir (Akashic Books), and You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens, which was short-listed for the 2012 International Latino Book Awards. In 2012, her memoir, in poetry and prose, entitled Walking Home: Growing Up Hispanic in Houston was published by Texas Review Press and was hailed by the Houston Chronicle as “a love letter to the city of Houston.” A collection of poetry from the urban street cop’s perspective, Cold Blue Steel, was recently published by Texas Review Press. A volume she edited, Our Lost Border: Life Amid the Narco-Violence was also published in 2013.
David Rangel is a magician who has performed all across the globe. He hosted an awarding winning radio show in Houston, Texas, “Lost Fidelity.” (Voted Houston Press Best Radio Program in 2009). He is also founder and host of the 816 Podcast, offering an inside to the world of magic. He has taught his “Tricks of The Trade” at Montgomery College for the summer youth program and a course on the History of Magic at Yes Prep College.
Scott Turner Schofield has made a successful career out of being openly transgender. His one person shows describing his transition, "Underground Transit," "Debutante Balls," and "Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps" have toured internationally to critical acclaim since 2002. The artistic strength of those works won him a Tanne Foundation Award for Commitment to Artistic Excellence, a Princess Grace Foundation Acting Fellowship, and a "Fruitie" Audience Choice Award for Best Off-Broadway Performance.
Sehba Sarwar is a writer, multidisciplinary artist, and activist, currently based in Houston, USA. She moves between the city of her birth, Karachi, Pakistan, where she spent the first half of her life in a home filled with artists, activists and educators, and her adopted city, Houston, where she has recreated a community similar to the one where she was raised. Her writings have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines in India, Pakistan, and the US, and her work (writings, installations and videos) explore displacement and women’s issues, moving between South Asia and the US. Sarwar serves as Voices Breaking Boundaries' Artistic Director and is Artist-in-Residence at the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
Dayna Steele creates rock stars. She is a leading authority on business success trends including social media, networking and customer service as well as a rock radio Hall of Famer, and author of the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series. She writes for FastCompany.com, consults and presents at Fortune 500 companies organizations such as NASA, Shell, Disney, Purdue and more. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas!
Cavanaugh Nweze, a Prairie View A&M Alum, is native Texan with Nigerian Roots. His mother is from Dallas, TX and his father is from Anambra State, Nigeria. After working in a corporate environment Cavanaugh left a well paying accountant position to become a consistent pillar in his community. While studying at PVAMU, Cavanaugh organized and founded Divine Leaders Inc. in 2006. Divine Leaders Inc. is an educational and community service nonprofit organization. One of the main projects of the organization is The Marcus Garvey Liberation Garden which originally started at a local church and know has expanded to numerous homes and other satellite locations.
A recent graduate of Rice University in the areas of biomedical engineering and political science, Thierry Rignol seeks to share his love and understanding of combining science and policy with the rest of the world.
Thierry was the founding president of World STEM Works, a global non-profit social venture with a focus on developing science diplomacy through the concept of the ‘civic scientist’. As President of World STEM Works, Thierry guided the growth of the university-based organization from a single chapter in Houston to more than 20chapters in five countries one year later.
Christian and Lisa Seger are farmers and cheesemakers at Blue Heron Farm in Field Store Community, Texas. Well, they are now, anyway. Raised as city kids, as adults they started reading about, and became increasingly concerned with several aspects of our corporatized food system. Ultimately they decided that the only way it might be fixed is one farmer at a time…
Dr. Ostherr’s current research is focused on accelerating the uptake of media theory in health communication platforms to enable providers and patients to optimize their use of mobile health technologies. She is Co-founder and Director of the Medical Futures Lab, a collaborative center linking Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and UT Health to train the medical media innovators of the future through creative, hands-on critical thinking and design. A cornerstone of the Medical Futures Lab is the Medical Media Arts Hub, a program that joins Rice undergraduates with Texas Medical Center healthcare providers to solve information, communication, and visualization problems through a collaborative design process involving providers, patients, and students.
Taylor Gahm is a stand up comic, a writer, and a visual artist with over a decade of award winning creative production and consulting experience. In 2009 Taylor walked away from it all, giving up everything to focus on his marriage and discover a greater purpose in his life. He stopped working; his wife Stephanie quit her job at a prestigious interior design ﬁrm; and together they took a one year sabbatical traveling throughout the United States in a self-renovated camper that was featured in the popular blog Design Sponge. Taylor thought it would be a year of vacation. He was wrong...