Meet the TED2020 Fellows and Senior Fellows whose ideas and innovations are creating meaningful impact.
Kiran Gandhi, known by her stage name Madame Gandhi, is an electronic musician, producer, drummer and gender-rights advocate who blurs the boundaries between art, performance and activism. To combat menstruation stigmas, she ran the London Marathon while bleeding freely on her period in 2015. She has performed in music festivals such as Pitchfork, Lightning in a Bottle, Roskilde and SXSW.
Kyra Gaunt's book, The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop, published by NYU Press, won of the 2007 Alan Merriam Book Prize awarded by The Society for Ethnomusicology, which contributed to the emergence of black girlhood studies and hip-hop feminism. It also inspired a work by fellow TED Fellow Camille A. Brown, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play, which was nominated for a 2016 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production.
Gaunt's articles have appeared in Musical Quarterly, The Journal for Popular Music Studies and Parcours anthropologiques, and she has contributed chapters to I Was Born to Use Mics: Listening to Nas’ Illmatic and The Hip-hop & Obama Reader, among other publications.
Gaunt's scholarship has been funded by The Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a nationally- and internationally-recognized speaker. She also is a certified expert witness in federal and state cases on the unintended consequences of social media. She also continues to perform and record as a classically-trained, jazz vocalist and R&B singer-songwriter. Her original compositions are available on Be the True Revolution.
Daniel Alexander Jones exemplifies the artist as energy worker. His body of original work includes plays, performance pieces, recorded music, concerts, music theatre events, essays and long-form improvisations. Energy is his medium. He creates multi-dimensional experiences where bodies, minds, emotions, voices and spirits conjoin, shimmer and heal.
Jones's numerous plays and performance pieces include Black Light (Public Theater, Greenwich House Theatre); Duat (Soho Rep); An Integrator's Manual (La MaMa, etc. and Fusebox Festival); and Radiate (Soho Rep and National Tour). He has recorded five albums of original songs as his alter ego, Jomama Jones. He is recognized as a key voice in the development of theatrical jazz and has made a significant contribution to Black experimental theatre and performance. He is currently developing Altar no. 5, a commission of the Public Theater developed in partnership with New York Live Arts.
Jones creates his own distinctive dramaturgy. His roots reach deep into Black American and queer performance traditions, and his work explores ideas of the Afromystical (awakening awareness of the numinous in the everyday through ritualized performance). Over more than two decades of professional practice, Jones has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to civic healing through vulnerable presence, truth telling and collective critical engagement.
Adam Kucharski creates mathematical and computational approaches to help us understand how epidemics spread, and how we can better control them. He has worked on real-time analysis of COVID-19, influenza, dengue fever and Zika outbreaks. His research has provided new insights into how Zika spread prior to the Latin American epidemic, what factors influenced the early dynamics of COVID-19, and how social behavior can shape influenza outbreaks. His popular science articles have appeared in publications including The Observer, Financial Times, Wired and Scientific American. Currently, Kucharski is developing new ways to extract reliable insights about disease transmission from unreliable surveillance data. He is author of The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread -- and Why They Stop.
Jae Rhim Lee is a visual artist and mushroom lover. In her early work as a grad student at MIT, she built systems that reworked basic human processes before turning to work on a compelling new plan for the final human process: decomposition. Her Infinity Burial Project explores the choices we face after death and how our choices reflect our denial or acceptance of death's physical implications. She's been developing a new strain of fungus, the Infinity Mushroom, that feeds on and remediates the industrial toxins we store in our bodies and convert our bodies into nutrients.
Sonaar Luthra is the founder and CEO of Water Canary, a company building a weather service for water to help governments, businesses and communities manage 21st-century water risk. He believes that transforming the world's water data collection infrastructure is the most urgent and least understood challenge facing humanity.
Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil is searching for the most peculiar objects in the universe. Her research led to a discovery of an extremely rare galaxy with a unique circular structure, now commonly referred to as Burçin's Galaxy. Her work provided the first description of a double-ringed elliptical galaxy, challenging current theories and assumptions about how the universe works and how galaxies start and evolve.
Mutlu-Pakdil earned her PhD at the University of Minnesota and her undergraduate degree is from Bilkent University in Turkey. She spends most of her time searching for hierarchical structure at the scale of dwarf galaxies as a novel test of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm. She uses data gathered in a large range of wavelengths from premier telescopes worldwide to learn more about how the universe came to be the way it is today.
Paul Rucker is a visual artist, composer and musician who combines live performance, sound, original compositions and visual arts. The product of a rich interactive process, his work investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research and basic human emotions of a particular subject matter. Much of his work focuses on the prison-industrial complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country, including in schools, active prisons and inactive prisons like Alcatraz.
Rucker's installation REWIND garnered much praise and acclaim, including "Best Artist 2015" from Baltimore Magazine, "Best Solo Show 2015" and "#1 Art Show of 2015" from Baltimore City Paper, reviews by the Huffington Post, Artnet News, Washington Post, The Root and The Real News Network. He has received numerous grants, awards and residencies for visual art and music. He is a 2012 Creative Capital Grantee in visual art as well as a 2014, 2018, 2019 MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund Grantee for performance. In 2015, he received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant as well as the Mary Sawyer Baker Award. In 2016, he received the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which he is the first artist in residence at the new National Museum of African American Culture.
Rucker's residencies include MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Ucross Foundation, Art OMI, Banff Centre, Pilchuck Glass School, Rauschenberg Residency, Joan Mitchell Residency, Loghave, Montalvo, Hermitage, Hemera Artist Retreat, Air Serembe, Creative Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy. In 2013-2015, he was the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist in Residence and Research Fellow at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He was also awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2018 TED Fellowship and the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and Artist Trust.
Rucker is an iCubed Research Fellow embedded at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
Dr. Edsel Salvaña discovered that the driving force behind a new AIDS epidemic in the Philippines is the entry and spread of a deadlier strain of HIV -- a situation that can easily occur anywhere in the world.
Salvaña is an infectious disease specialist, molecular epidemiologist and the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines in Manila. He uses next-generation sequencing to study HIV viral diversity and superinfection. He looks at how HIV develops drug resistance to better understand why the Philippines suddenly has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and why HIV treatment that works well in developed countries is failing on emerging HIV strains in the country. He trains doctors in infectious diseases, and supervises the care of several thousand HIV patients at the Philippine General Hospital. He has been a national force in the formulation of HIV treatment guidelines, campaigning against stigma, and raising awareness.
Salvaña's advocacy work has been featured in Science, and he has been recognized with numerous national and international awards including the "Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World" from JCI International and the Young Physician Leader Award from the Interacademy Medical Panel of the World Academy of Sciences. He was named a TED Fellow in 2017.