Reza Aslan Headlines TEDxUCR Event April 23

Annual event features faculty and student talks and performances that explore "ideas worth spreading"

TEDxUCR logo

The theme of the TEDxUCR event on April 23 is “Reaction.”

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Best-selling author Reza Aslan will headline a group of six speakers and performers at UC Riverside’s annual TEDx event on Saturday, April 23.

The event is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. in University Theatre. A limited number of early bird tickets are available for $10 at the theater box office. At the door, student tickets (requiring student ID) are $17; general admission is $27. Dinner is included. Tickets may be purchased at the box office Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; by calling the box office at (951) 827-4331 Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; or online. There is a transaction fee of $1.75 per ticket for phone and online purchases. Complementary parking is available at Lot 6.

The theme for this year’s TEDxUCR is “Reaction,” which student organizers describe in this way: “Everything is a reaction; reactions occur when multiple bodies share a moment. These bodies then decompose, transform and build upon one another. The 2016 TEDxUCR theme is the source of creativity and of action. At TEDxUCR 2016 we will create a designed space where actions and reactions converge to create connections between speakers, performers, and audience members.”

TEDxUCR provides a unique experience to everyone, from the organizers, to the speakers and to the audience, said Sui Yiu Yo Yo Hong, TEDxUCR president and a third-year psychology major.

“For all of us, it is the place to meet people and learn about ideas that you never would have otherwise,” Hong explained. “Our speakers all come from different disciplines, and the topics are so different that it is impossible to predict what will come next. This event will make a thrilling experience, as the audience, speakers, and organizers all come together and react to the ideas and to each other.”

Speakers this year are:

  • Reza Aslan, UCR professor of creative writing and an internationally renowned author and scholar of religions. His books include the New York Times Bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” and international bestseller “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.” His writing has been published in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitorand The Washington Post, and he appears frequently on TV and radio shows as a religion and political analyst.
  • William H. Grover, assistant professor of bioengineering. His research lab at UCR develops instruments for biological, chemical, and medical applications. He also creates smartphone apps and other resources to support engineering practices in K-12 schools.
  • Meng Cheng (Summer), a second-year Ph.D. student in management. Her research focuses on emotions, human behaviors, and diversity. She is active on the fundraising and recruiting committee of the Student United Way Global Leadership Board.
  • Brian K. To, a psychology major who plans to pursue a career helping people with disabilities. He works for the California Employment Development Department as a youth employment and opportunity program specialist. He is also a student intern, artist, and scholarship recipient for the Academy of Special Dreams, an organization that aims to increase awareness and provide opportunities to artists with disabilities.
  • Lenka Morávková, a songwriter, sound artist and electronic producer from the Czech Republic who is pursuing a Ph.D. in digital composition. She transgresses boundaries within music, visual art, performance and new media, tours internationally with her music project My Name Is Ann! and performs with the Cristal Baschet instrument. Her installations and performances have been exhibited throughout Europe and elsewhere.
  • Martin Kristian Arceo, a history major who plans to enter the field of medicine. He has practiced Taekwondo for 12 years and is a fourth-degree black belt who has received numerous accolades from local, state, national, and international competitions. Taekwondo has enabled him to serve communities in various ways, from teaching in orphanages to raising money to creating care packages for the homeless.

Emceeing the event is Stan Morrison, the only coach in NCAA history to lead three different basketball teams, in the same state, to the NCAA tournament – UOP, USC and San Jose State.  He was Coach of the Year in three different conferences and director of athletics at UCR for 12 years, leading UCR from Division II into Division I.  He is senior vice president of Pacific Premier Bank, and a board member of Olive Crest, American Diabetes Association, ARC Riverside County, Mission Inn Foundation, High Five America, and Boy Scouts of America.

TEDxUCR was founded in 2010 by four psychology graduate students and continues to highlight “ideas worth spreading,” said Michael Pazzani, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “TEDxUCR creates an environment that sparks discussions and connections between our students and researchers leading to new insights and ideas.”

Organizers of the event are: students Sui Yiu Yo Yo Hong, Russell Cohen, Amy Chen, Leeann Tran, Maiko Le Lay, Tiffany Chang, Jack Tang, Nuor Shtila, and Nicholas Dotson; Nalo Hopkinson, professor of creative writing; Suveen Mathaudhu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Jeff Kraus, director of local government and community relations.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Since its creation 25 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives, including: The annual TED Conference, which invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes and makes their talks available, free, at; TEDGlobal, which is held each year in Oxford, England;, where new TEDTalks are posted daily; and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to organize independent, TED-like events around the world; and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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