The Event

TEDxUniversityofRochester will take place on Sunday, April 22nd 2018, in Douglass Ballroom at the University of Rochester River Campus. Our address is 500 Joseph C. Wilson Blvd, Rochester, NY 14627.

Our Mission

Our mission is to bring together a diverse body of thought across a range of disciplines and share it with students, staff, faculty, and community surrounding the University of Rochester. We exist to give voice to those who are actively changing the face of the world as we know it. We move to upset the norm; to question; to empower; to explore. We challenge our audience to ignite the candle of knowledge and put out the darkness of ignorance.

Now that’s an idea worth spreading. Welcome to TEDxUniversityofRochester.

Meet The Team


Manan Hora

President, Licensee

Manan is a Junior double majoring in Computer Science and Economics. Aside from TEDx, Manan is involved in hackathons and building cool projects using code. He also is an avid reader, writer and actor who loves being on stage. In his spare time, he enjoys reading poetry, social dancing and listening to rock music. He is a member of Radiance Dance Theatre, RocHack, and has acted in a short film under the Undergraduate Film Council at the U of R. His other interests include technology, education and economics.


Leif Johansen

Vice President, Head of Curation

Leif is a freshman at the University of Rochester. He originally hails from the Catskill Mountains, and he plans on majoring in Economics and Political Science with clusters in Quantitative Physics as well as Media, Culture, and Communication. When he isn’t in class or pretending to study in the library, Leif is working in his capacity as a student senator in SA Government, giving tours to prospective students, playing the drums in Pep Band, or singing in one of the choirs on campus. Off campus, he enjoys helping out with political campaigns.


Maria Zagorulya

Co-licensee, Head of Marketing

Maria is a senior student pursuing a major in Biochemistry. She completed research projects at several universities including Cambridge and Harvard, addressing questions in cancer, aging and gene editing with therapeutic implications. Next year, she will begin her PhD studies, to become a qualified biomedical researcher and advance our understanding of human disease. As a Russian citizen who grew up in China, and is now a student in the US, Maria enjoys travelling and immersing herself in new cultures.


Syed Muhammad Miqdad

Head of Logistics

Miqdad is a sophomore at the University of Rochester, currently majoring in Chemical Engineering, and minoring in Economics. A social entrepreneur by spirit, Miqdad is involved with community-building clubs on campus, as Muslim Students’ Association’s Secretary, and ADITI’s Communications Chair. He has previously served as a Student Life Executive in the SA Government, and was awarded Andrew Friend Prize for leadership and service during his Freshman year. Miqdad is a die-hard Manchester United fan, and loves to cook Pakistani cuisine in his free time to bring students together for discussions over a hot, delicious meal of Biryani.


Apoorva Khadilkar

Head of Finance

As an international student from India, Apoorva is currently a sophomore pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Economics. He is a devout Big Bang Theory fan, and when not immersed in his school work, he tries to dedicate time to watching TED talks, perusing articles on The New York Times/Bloomberg/The Economist (paywall permitting), physical fitness and watching documentaries. Beyond academics, he is the Business Manager of ADITI, Vice President of Men’s Club Squash and an active member of the UR Baja SAE club.


Taylor Lapinski

Head of Event Experience

Taylor is in her third year at the UofR, and has been working to support events in the Rochester area since she arrived her freshman year. As a student, she studies neuroscience and plans to apply to medical school this coming cycle to eventually practice as a physician in underserved communities. Dedicated to community service, Taylor has organized multiple volunteer-based and nonprofit charity events, and currently works as a part-time EMT at Brighton Volunteer Ambulance. Feel free to say hi to her during the TEDx event, and let her know how you think it’s going! She loves to hear back from people attending the events she works for.


Sar Haribhakti


Sar is a Junior who grew up in India and now lives in New Jersey. He is responsible for bringing in external speakers for the event. He is a hardcore fan of shows like Suits, Boston Legal & White Collar and loves reading. Whenever he is not in classes or pretending to study in libraries, he is mostly working in digital and investing worlds. He serves on the projects team at GlobeMed’s local chapter on our campus. He is always curious about how tech is influencing everything from finance and healthcare to Instagram filters and Snapchat streaks.


Simran Arya


Simran is a sophomore studying Health, Behavior, and Society and Biology. She is interested in the multitude of factors that affect health, how they interact with one another, and how they can be both maintained and influenced. On campus she is involved with the International Student Mentor program and the Hindu Students Association. She also spends time at the medical center, volunteering and eating at the cafeteria. She likes to dedicate as much of her free time as possible to practicing, listening to, and learning about music.


Sarah-Jehanne Benraiss


Sarah is a third year student at the University of Rochester studying Environmental Science and the Environmental Humanities. She is passionate about food justice in the United States and abroad. On campus, Sarah works as Resident Advisor, a Teacher's Assistant in Biology and a Technical Assistant researching neurodegenerative diseases at the URMC. She also tutors young refugees in English and volunteers at various events in Rochester throughout the year. In her free time, Sarah enjoys writing poetry, reading novels and cooking French and Moroccan dishes.


Ronak Amir Sardari

Logistics Director

Ronak is a freshman at University of Rochester, planning to major in Biochemistry and a possible minor in psychology. Back at home, she has been cooperating with the United Nations information center to organize student Model United Nations with a focus on the United Nations Environmental Program Committee. She enjoys traveling and getting to know different cultures. She dedicates her free time, practicing Violin and reading poetry.


Miriam Vakhitova

Print Production Manager

Miriam is a sophomore student from Russia double majoring in Film and Media Studies and English. She is multilingual and is passionate about other cultures. She aspires to be a journalist and deeply cares about making a difference and reflecting upon sociocultural, environmental and political issues in one way or another. On campus Miriam holds a position of a Trailer Editor for the University of Rochester Cinema Group. Miriam also has two jobs at the University of Rochester Undergraduate Admissions and Graduate Admissions, and an internship at the local broadcasting company, WXXI. She is passionate about all forms of art and the ways in which art can change the world.


Jake Mitchell

Website Manager

Jake is a freshman Computer Science geek at the University of Rochester. He has a passion for starting projects and companies, especially in the tech or education fields. Among these projects is the Mentor Project, a nonprofit company striving to further the education of students that struggle in typical learning environments. On campus, he works as a Digital Media Specialist and a Web Developer for University IT and is a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He serves on the executive board for Computer Science Undergraduate Council and TEDxUniversityofRochester. He also thinks writing in the third person is surreal.


Molly Nemer

Director of Design

Molly Nemer is a visual storyteller engaging in all aspects of the video production process. She graduates from the University of Rochester in May 2017 with majors in Digital Media Studies and Film and Media Studies and a minor in Anthropology.


Sophia Rosman

Promotional Event Manager

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Sophia has been performing as a juggler, stilt walker, and unicyclist since she was 7. You may have seen her juggling with her brother on the Ellen DeGeneres show, at the White House, or around the world. In 2012 Sophia began exploring the intersection of entertainment and fine arts, and she now travels as a professional bodypainter and airbrush artist. She serves on the executive boards for the University of Rochester Strong Jugglers and ArtAwake, is a Student Alumni Ambassador, and is an active member of the university running club.


Ara Gonzalez

Advertising Communications Manager

Araceli is from Paraguay, South America. Currently a freshman even though she is almost 21 years old. She was a former Youth Ambassador of the US Department of State and has been working for several nonprofit organizations in projects related to youth empowerment and social inclusion. In fact, she created a nonprofit organization for her community called “Positive Effect”. She is planning to major in International Relations and minor in Political Science. At UofR she is involved doing research at the Political Science Department as well as in Greek life, She’s the First and Newman Community.

More About TED

TEDx, x = Independently  Organized Event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)


TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today's leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED's annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED's open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a "wish," or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.