2017 Speaker Bios

Professor Falko Kuester

Professor Falko Kuester is a computer scientist and cultural heritage engineer at the Jacobs School of Engineering (JSoE) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and the Kinsella Director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3),

He is working on methodologies and techniques for cultural heritage diagnostics and preservation, including diagnostic and analytical imaging as well as visual and cultural analytics providing engineers, scientists, art historians and restorers, with a means to intuitively and interactively explore historic artifacts. This research is creating the foundation for the development of digital surrogates of world cultural heritage sites and artifacts, providing a means for researchers, stakeholders and the public alike to experience and study these artifacts and facilitate their preservation. His vision for “Engineering a Future for the Past” has helped create a catalyst for the development of disruptive technologies, including big-data analytics, deep learning, virtual reality and augmented reality, robotics and layered manufacturing.

Dr David Vaughan

Dr. David E. Vaughan is an aquaculture researcher who has designed, built and operated many marine aquaculture projects, programs and businesses. He initiated the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution’s Aquaculture Division in 1991 and built the Aquaculture Development Park, and ACTED, the Aquaculture Center for Training, Education and Demonstration. Dr. Vaughan built and developed the Center for Marine Ornamental Research (CMOR), which is now incorporated as Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums Inc (ORA), which he was president of until 2001 . Dr. Vaughan is also the Executive Director of the Mote Tropical Research Lab in the Florida Keys and manager of the Coral Reef Restoration Program


Joel Newton

Joel Newton is the CEO of The Congregation, a dedicated Virtual Reality Content fund. He previously co-founded The Virtual Reality Company (VRC), a venture-backed startup where he executive produced Virtual Reality projects with filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and fellow co-founder Robert Stromberg.

Prior to his involvement with virtual reality, Newton was a producer and artist manager. He produced LUV starring Common and co-produced The Kids Are All Right starring Annette Benning, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Josh Hutcherson.

He lives with his wife Cathy in San Marino, CA, where they've co-created Caleb, Ava Grace, Joshua, and Selah.


Dr Susan Erdman

Dr. Susan Erdman works in the Division of Comparative Medicine at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she runs an NIH-funded research lab pioneering studies on interactions with intestinal microbes. Dr. Erdman’s postdoctoral research training at MIT, together with her Masters in Public Health degree studies at Harvard School of Public Health, have provided a springboard for understanding complex biological systems and translational medicine. Her laboratory showed that gut microbes and the immune system are connected with cancers throughout the body, and that effects can be multigenerational. More recently she is focusing on roles for microbiota in achieving good health. Dr. Erdman was the first to discover that bacteria stimulate production of the hormone oxytocin, unifying physical, mental, and social health. Her abundant curiosity, energy, and enthusiasm for learning and discovery combine to present complex science with a clear and engaging style.


Stephen Bliss

Pioneering British artist Stephen Bliss worked as Senior Artist for Rockstar Games from 2001 to 2016 where he helped establish the illustrative styles for the video game phenomenon Grand Theft Auto.

In a career that spans 3 decades, 2016 saw him return to his roots as a fine artist. His work has been exhibited in many international galleries, and his commissioned murals in the Wynwood district of Miami for Art Basel won him recent acclaim.

2017 will see him painting a large mural hanging directly over the Hudson River, working on a collection of artwork for a solo show in London, designs for his clothing label Bliss, a campaign for a new Coca Cola product, characters for VR and AR, and a poster for legendary band The Pixies.


Rosa Rios

Rosie Rios was the 43rd Treasurer of the United States and is a Visiting Scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is most recently known for initiating and leading the efforts to place a portrait of a woman on the front of U.S. currency for the first time in the nation’s history. Upon her resignation in 2016, she received the Hamilton Award, the highest honor bestowed in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Treasurer Rios was the longest serving Senate-confirmed Treasury official beginning with her time on the Treasury/Federal Reserve Transition Team in November 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.

Nigel Jacob

Nigel Jacob is the Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. Nigel’s work is about making urban life better via innovative, people-oriented applications of technology and design. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked in a series of technology start-ups in the Boston area. He was also  the Urban Technologist in Residence at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaboration of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, is currently a board member at organizations such as Code For America and coUrbanize, and is an Executive-in-Residence at Boston University.


Jake Malliaros

Jake is a Applied Physics student at the University of Waterloo. Leader of the Waterloop Hyperloop project, he strives to drive technology forward to bring about a more connected high speed transportation system. Waterloop is one of a number of entrants in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, based out of Hawthorne, California. The purpose of the competition is to help accelerate the development of functional prototypes of Elon Musk's idea and encourage student innovation by challenging university students to design and build the best high-speed pod.  Waterloo has assembled a rotating team of students from many backgrounds to build and test a prototype.


Irwin Trott and the Warwick Gombey Troupe

The Warwick Gombey Troupe was founded by Mr. Irwin Trott in 1996. It is an initiative to promote and to preserve Bermuda’s timeless treasure,  the Gombey. Mr. Trott was first introduced to the Gombey culture at the age of six, and forty-four years later, has dedicated his life to practicing and passing on this tradition to future generations. 

The Troupe currently has 24 members consisting of 9 musicians and 15 dancers, ranging in age from 4 years to 60+ years. The captain is Harley Place and the Junior-captain is Sakima Richards. The Troupe has performed in many places outside of Bermuda, including several Native American powwows through ancestral connections with the Pequot Tribe.