TEDxSBU 2015: The Master Pieces

Meet our 2015 Presenters!

Jacqueline Albin
Undergraduate Student

Jacqueline Albin is a current Bachelor of Science student in the psychology program at Stony Brook, and has lived with schizoaffective disorder for most of her life. Her delusions took a turn for the bizarre, when she began to believe that she was dead and no longer existed.

She turned to psychology to understand why she may be this way, as well as studying the philosophy of what it means to be alive and what it means to exist.

She plans on studying the biology and etiology behind psychosis in the future, seeking answers for why she believed herself to be dead, as well as expanding upon the methods she used along her own journey of recovery to assist others with similar mental health issues, to create a system of thorough understanding and support for those with psychosis.

With a unique perspective on life, death, and existence, she approaches the topic of mental health with both experience and knowledge from multiple disciplines.

Debra Alfarone

Debra Alfarone is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated TV reporter and anchor. She covers everything from breaking news to crime to inspiring stories of people making a difference for WUSA 9, the CBS station covering the nation’s capital.

Known for her conversational style and live reporting, Alfarone also writes a blog named “90 Seconds,” where she shares inspirational behind-the-scenes stories of ordinary people overcoming extraordinary odds.

Alfarone has reported in New York City at PIX 11 News, and in Hartford, CT at the NBC affiliate, WVIT-TV. She originally planned a career in finance. After graduating from college, she worked in the World Trade Center, and on 9/11, worked on Wall Street. Her business card from 2 World Trade Center is among her most valued possessions.

The events of 9/11 led her to leave the financial world and pursue her dream of “telling stories that need to be told.” She has never looked back.

Anne Sophie Andersen
Graduate Student

Both an accomplished violinist and composer, Anne Sophie Andersen is an unusually diverse artist seeking to explore music from a variety of angles. One of her greatest passions is performing and promoting contemporary music, and she has collaborated with several composers in the US as well as her native region of Scandinavia.

Andersen’s compositions include orchestral, ensemble and solo pieces for a variety of instruments, as well as works with live electronics.

She has written, performed and lectured on works by Schubert, Carter and Grisey.

Andersen is the board leader and a faculty member of the festival “New Music for Strings” in Aarhus, Denmark and the founder of Stony Brook Chamber Ensemble.

She is currently completing the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in violin and the Master of Arts degree in composition at Stony Brook University.

Joanne Davila

Dr. Joanne Davila is a Professor of Psychology and the Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from UCLA.

Dr. Davila’s expertise is in the area of romantic relationships and mental health in adolescents and adults, and she has published widely in this area. Her current research focuses on romantic competence among youth and emerging adults, the development of relationship education programs, the interpersonal causes and consequences of depression and anxiety, and well-being and relationship functioning among lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.

Dr. Davila is a Fellow in the Association for Psychological Science and the Incoming Editor (2016-2022) for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Davila also is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in evidence-based interventions for relationship problems, depression, and anxiety.

Dr. Davila is a faculty member of the Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences.

Photo credit: Jeanne Neville

Stephanie Dinkins

Grounded in the tradition of creating meaning and histories through representation, Stephanie Dinkins uses the power and potential of the images to investigate questions of subjectivity and social equity.

Both artist and artwork strive to exist, and encourage ways of being, beyond the bounds of circumstance in a grounded action oriented way. From a position of blackness, which can often be simultaneously invisible and hyper-visible, this requires imagination, mediation, intentionality, knowledge of self and other, vulnerability, fortitude and the kind of luck only hard work and commitment to purpose can produce.

Dinkins holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She is also an alumna of the International Center of Photography, the Independent Studies Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Artist in the Marketplace Program of the Bronx Museum of Art.  Her work is exhibited at a broad spectrum of public, private and institutional venues – including, Institute of Contemporary Art Dunaujvaros, Hungary; Herning Kunstmuseum, Denmark; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; Contemporary Art Museum Houston; Wave Hill, Studio Museum in Harlem; Spedition Bremen; and the corner of Putnam and Malcolm X Blvd, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn – by design.

She has received grants from Harvestworks, Puffin Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding and Lef Foundation. Past residencies include the Whitney Independent Study Program; Aim Program, Bronx Museum of Art; Santa Fe Art Institute, Art/Omi, Foundation and Center for Contemporary Art, Czech Republic and Blue Mountain Center, NY.

Stephanie Dinkins is also an Associate Professor who teaches digital and interactive media in the Department of Art at Stony Brook University, part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Victoria Febrer – cancelled
Graduate Student

Victoria Febrer is a fine artist based in NYC. Her work has been shown in the US, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, and Japan, with solo exhibitions in New York, Valencia, and Madrid. Her interests are centered on the relationship of the universal and the personal, and the way that repeated images influence our understanding of our place in the world. She works in a variety of media including paint, film projection, and red wine (through a process of her own invention called vinography).

Febrer is committed to the vital role of a critical arts practice as a force for lasting positive social change as a key tool in the empowerment of communities. She has taught youth, children, and families at diverse institutions including the 92nd Street Y, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Free Arts NYC, Center for Arts Education, the Cooper Union, and Stony Brook University. Victoria Febrer is a proud graduate of the Cooper Union and the recipient of the American Association of Colleges & Universities’ K. Patricia Cross Award for Future Leaders in Education.

“I don’t think there are many things more important than being a teacher and being a student. That, to me, is the deepest social contract, to understand the idea that individual creativity within a willing community is a profound social act.” – John Hejduk (1929-2000)

Abby Fisher
Graduate Student

Abby Fisher is a versatile percussionist based in New York. She is very interested in performing and supporting continued growth of new music, and has expertise in classical, African (Ewe), Brazilian, and Afro Cuban percussion.

Notable performances include winning the 2013 New York University Steinhardt Concerto Competition, performing at the 2011 and 2013 Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, composing the score and performing as the featured musician in the production of The Secret Paris Project at the Secret Theatre (NYC), and performing at the One World Gala at the opening of the Observatory Deck at One World Trade Center (NYC).

In 2013, she co-led a consortium of percussionists from all over North America in commissioning a vibraphone and speaking-voice work from composer Lawton Hall. She was recently appointed the nief-norf Summer Music Festival’s Director of Operations.

Fisher is pursuing her Doctorate in Musical Arts at Stony Brook University, where she studies with Eduardo Leandro and serves as a teaching assistant for the ethnomusicology department. She received her Master of Music in Percussion Performance from NYU and Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from Lawrence University.

Fisher’s teachers have included Dane Richeson, Beverley Johnston, James Saporito, Jonathan Haas, Simon Boyar, Michael Spiro, Nani Agbeli, Joe Ludwig, and Janet Cramer.

Fisher is a Young Artist endorser for Vic Firth sticks and mallets.


Heidi Hutner

Dr. Heidi Hutner is the director of the Sustainability Studies Program at Stony Brook University. She teaches and writes about environmental literature and film, environmental justice, ecofeminism, ecocriticism, and media.

Dr. Hutner writes for magazines and literary journals such as Ms. Magazine, Yes!, Spirituality and Health, Tikkun, American Society for Literature and the Environment, Proximity, Florida Journal Studies, and more, and she has contributed articles to environmental anthologies published by Oxford University Press, Palgrave, and others.

Currently, Dr. Hutner is working on two environmental memoirs entitled Inspiring Green Minds: Memoirs of An Eco Professor and Nowhere: Memoirs of an Atomic Family.

Elizabeth McCourt

Elizabeth McCourt is a certified coach and consultant who helps leaders and teams clarify their talents and goals, leading them to elite performance with her venture McCourt Leadership Group.

She has been a top ranked executive recruiter in financial services for over 15 years and for the past two years was invited to On Wall Street magazine’s exclusive Recruiter’s Roundtable.

Previously, she was a trial lawyer in New Mexico with a JD from Loyola University in New Orleans. As a writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Stony Brook in Southampton, she has a completed novel and a non-fiction book in progress based on her coaching methodology. She’s also a contributing writer for On Wall Street magazine.

In 2014, she presented a case study at the 6th ESMT Coaching Colloquia in Berlin, Germany, and recently presented a case study at Harvard’s Institute of Coaching 2015 Leadership and Healthcare Conference. She is an avid endurance athlete that specializes in long distance triathlons and is sponsored athlete for Team Betty of Betty Designs

Email her at elizabeth@mccourtleadership.com or find her on twitter @ecmccourt.

Marcia Neblett

Marcia Neblett is a New York City born, Georgia based artist who works with drawing, printmaking, painting and artist books. She has a BFA from Purchase College, the State University of New York, and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Stony Brook University in 1998.

Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the US and Asia in venues including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia and the AIR Gallery in New York City.

Neblett is a recipient of a number of grants and fellowships, including two Fulbright Scholar Grants to India; a Jerome Foundation Printmaking Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts Special Opportunity Stipend Project Grant.

She is a Professor of Foundations, Drawing and Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.

Stephen Post

Stephen G. Post, Ph.D. is a best-selling author who has taught at the University of Chicago Medical School, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1988-2008), and Stony Brook University School of Medicine (2008-), where he is Founding Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics. He is an elected member of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Royal Society of Medicine, London.

Post addressed the U.S. Congress on volunteerism and public health, and received the Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement. He received the Kama Book Award in Medical Humanities from World Literacy Canada in 2008. He has served as a Senior Scholar for the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A public intellectual, Post has been quoted in more than 3000 national and international newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Parade Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal, “O” Magazine, and Psychology Today.

Burton Rocks

Burton Rocks is a sports attorney and agent who founded C.L. Rocks Corporation, a full service sports agency (MLBPA certified). A 1994 graduate of Stony Brook University, Rocks came back to serve as an adjunct professor in the College of Business in 2015.

He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, “Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir” (HarperCollins, 2003) with Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill about Paul and his dad. In total, Rocks has authored eight books.

In 2006, Rocks co-founded and launched the social media company Chatwithastar.com, enabling celebrities and fans to interact via the Internet, which subsequently unveiled the first Blogmobile, a mobile luxury bus designed to showcase blogging as mainstream.

He is a survivor of three childhood code blues in the hospital due to asthma, as profiled in the Huffington Post, and has guest authored columns on leadership for Forbes.com.

Marc Anthony Rodriguez

Marc Anthony Rodriguez aided in the development, production and marketing of several multi-billion dollar video game franchises for over the past ten years, working for several prestigious digital entertainment companies across the globe.

His current venture into the booming world of “Over-The-Top” multimedia streaming applications has provided countless consumers with new and exciting ways of enjoying television fueled through the power of the Internet.

He has spoken at various conventions and game developer conferences sharing his philosophical take on experiences he shared throughout his collegiate years at Stony Brook and his continued quest for wisdom in his post-graduate years.

As he explains it: “My goal is to provide an insight into the theorems behind the Gameification of our daily lives, I focus on identifying differing user experiences on a daily basis, just enough to see what makes people tick”.

His passion for travel and to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence was evident from an early age.

A self-described “philosophical technologists,” Marc is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Stony Brook University (Class of 05’ – B.A. Philosophy/Latin American and Caribbean Studies). He has spent the past five years living and working in the heart of San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, learning and growing within a new era of techno-theology that can only be described as a “Renaissance of Game Thinking”

He is a graduate from the Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences.

Read about his latest work at https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcarodriguez

Katarzyna Sawicka

Katarzyna (Kasia) Sawicka was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She came to the United States at the age of 15 and entered Longwood High School in Middle Island, NY. She has resided in Long Island ever since.

Sawicka has earned three degrees from Stony Brook Univeristy (B.S. in Engineering Chemistry, M.S. in Chemistry, and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering). Her research focuses on developing novel technologies to capitalize on the enhanced functions of nano-scaled materials.

Recently, Sawicka joined the Department of Dermatology, where she hopes to further pursue the development of ImmunoMatrix, a non-invasive skin patch that effectively delivers vaccines into the skin. In the last year, the invention earned Sawicka the top prize in the National Collegiate Inventors Competition at the USPTO. It was named the 2015 Invention of the Year in Medicine by Popular Science, and Sawicka was awarded the 2015 Innovator of the Year award in science and technology by InnovateLI.

Karen Sobel-Lojeski​

Karen Sobel-Lojeski​, PhD​ is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University. Her research focuses on​ how technology impacts human relationships.  Some of the topics she studies include how technology affects education and learning, business performance, child development, emotional well-being and more.

Her award-winning Virtual Distance Model has been adopted by thousands of people across organizations worldwide.

She is the author of two books, and Uniting the Virtual Workforce:  Transforming Leadership and Innovation in the Globally Integrated Enterprise and Leading the Virtual Workforce:  How Great Leaders Transform Organizations in the 21st Century.  Based on her ground-breaking research, she is currently working on her third book about mobile smart technology’s influence on society for the mass market.

Dr. Lojeski  has been featured in major media outlets including BusinessWeek, Fortune, CBS News, The Brian Lehrer Show, NPR and more. Karen is a highly sought-after speaker and has presented her work at The United Nations, The World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows Program at Wharton and dozens of high-level corporate, government and non-profit events.

Dr. Lojeski’s research is multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary drawing on research from social science, neuroscience, cognitive science, complexity theory, industrial and organizational psychology as well as innovation, creativity and contemplation research.

Nicholas Valente

Currently a lecturer in the Mathematics Department at Stony Brook University, Valente is passionate about math, science, technology, and the natural world. He believes there is deep beauty to be found in the vast ocean of mathematics, and it brings him great joy to share this beauty with others.

Valente earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Stony Brook in 2011, with a minor in Computer Science. After graduation, he taught math at Mathnasium, a mathematics learning center while also developing Polytopia, a program that allows basic visualization, manipulation, and 3D printing of higher dimensional shapes.

In 2015, Valente earned a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from Stony Brook.

Naomi Wolf

Dr. Naomi Wolf is the author of eight New York Times best selling works of nonfiction, including The Beauty Myth and The End of America. Her journalism has appeared in every major news outlet including The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

She was on an advisory to Vice President Al Gore, and co-founded The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership and The Anticancer Freedom Campaign.

She recently completed her PhD from The University of Oxford. She lives in New York with her family.

Dr. Naomi Wolf joins the Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences as a Visiting Lecturer for the 2015-16 academic year.

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