2015 TEDxUConn Speakers
Merrill Singer, PhD, a medical and cultural anthropologist, is a Professor in the departments of Anthropology and Community Medicine, and a Senior Research Scientist at Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention at UConn. Additionally, he is affiliated with the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University. The central issue in his work is the social origins of health inequality. Over his career, his research and writing have addressed HIV/AIDS in highly vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, illicit drug use and drinking behavior, community and structural violence, and the political ecology of health including the impacts of climate change. In recent years, his research has focused especially on the nature and impact of both syndemics (interacting epidemics) and pluralea (intersecting ecocrises) on health.
Jane Gordon teaches in Political Science and Africana Studies with affiliation in El Instituto at UCONN-Storrs. She previously taught in the Department of Political Science at Temple University, where she was a 2009-2010 faculty fellow at the Center for the Humanities. Gordon is the author of such books as Why They Couldn’t Wait, which was listed by the Gotham Gazette as one of the four best books on civil rights in the past 40 years, Creolizing Political Theory, and the co-authored Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the
Modern Age. Her co-edited work includes A Companion to AfricanAmerican Studies, Not Only the Master’s Tools, and Creolizing Rousseau. She is President of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.
Blair T. Johnson, Ph.D., is Board of Trustees Professor of Psychology
at the University of Connecticut. For over two decades, he has focused his scholarship on health promotion and especially HIV prevention, serving as the principal investigator of several National Institutes of Health grants on these subjects. His recent research has helped to show the prominent roles that networks and community resources play in the success of behavioral interventions targeting individuals at risk for acquiring HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Prof. Johnson is also a dedicated methodologist, especially in relation to meta-analysis, which he labels “the original big data.” He developed some of the first computer software to conduct meta-analysis and often writes and teaches about the best ways to conduct meta-analyses and other systematic reviews. When he is not doing science, he enjoys playing piano and activities with his family.
David Richards is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut, with appointments in both the Department of Political Science and the Human Rights Institute. He currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies at the Human Rights Institute. His work focuses on human rights, and has appeared in a variety of journals and books. These published works include studies of gender-violence law, the measurement of government respect for human rights, public support for torture, economic globalization, and national elections, among others. His current book, Violence Against Women and the Law, is coauthored with Jillienne Haglund and uses original data from about 196 countries to examine gender-violence laws globally.
Alicia Ely Yamin, JD MPH is a Lecturer on Global Health and Director of the joint JD/MPH program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as Policy Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. Yamin’s 20+ year career at the intersection of health, human rights and development has bridged academia and activism. Yamin has published dozens of articles and books relating to health and human rights, and has been awarded multiple distinctions in respect of her work, in particular her leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She frequently consults for UN and other global agencies, and currently serves on the Lancet-O’Neil Institute Commission on Global Health and the Law. She was also recently honored by being named the Visiting Gladstein Professor of Human Rights 2015-16 at the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Phoebe Godfrey is an Assistant Professor-in-Residence in Sociology at UConn. She teaches sociology courses on climate change, sustainable societies, food, education and many others but in all, her focus is on engaging students in order to help them explore their potentials. She is the co-director and Board President of the new non-profit CLiCK (Commercially Licensed Co-operative Kitchen) in Windham that encourages local food businesses, health and nutrition education as a social justice center. She considers her teaching and her non-profit work as central to her commitment to social and ecological justice.
Known as Prof. Kathy to her respiratory care students at Rutgers University and anthropology students at Middlesex County College, she claims to be an amalgam of these two worlds. Kathy is devoted to the care of the medically underserved and coordinates patient care, along with the respiratory care students, at hospitals and outpatient clinics in Newark. She also is an active volunteer and member of the U.S. Board of Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots, an organization dedicated to the education of 600 of the poorest children in the City of Oaxaca, México. This past summer Prof. Kathy also volunteered at La Posada Providencia Refugee Shelter in the southern Rio Grande Valley of Texas, addressing the health literacy needs of unaccompanied minors crossing the border and fleeing violence in Central America.
Johanna DeBari is the Publicity Liaison for the Human Rights Institute. She is a Master’s student in the International Studies program with a concentration in Human Rights. Her research interests include sexual violence against women, human security, and prevention research. Prior to coming to UConn, she was awarded a Keene State College Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship during the summer of 2013 to pursue her project on rape as a tool of genocide. Most recently, she was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Women of New Hampshire Award in March of 2014 for her activism, strength of character, and academic achievements in the Keene State College community.
Dowon Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea where she was a singer-songwriter and released two albums. She has taught English, music, Japanese, and various enrichment courses, including her popular “History of Noodles,” to various groups of students in South Korea and the US. Currently, she is studying Educational Psychology focusing on Gifted Education and Talent Development. She was inspired to pursue her master’s degree after teaching students with autism spectrum disorders at a boarding school here in Connecticut. This summer, Dowon moves to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for another adventure. She dedicates her talk to her students, for embracing her with so much warmth and respect, and for giving her a glimpse of true humanity.