VIU researcher and poet take part in inaugural TEDx program in Victoria

January 17, 2012 - 5:56am

Update: A web link has been posted for the TEDxVictoria poetry performances by the Vic Slam Team (Scott Thompson with Dr. Justin McGrail, Chair of Visual Arts at VIU and Jeremy Loveday with Matthew Christopher Davidson).

Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith, Research Scientist and Head of Shellfish Health & Husbandry Group at the Centre for Shellfish Research talked about her cutting edge work at the same event. Her talk, filmed at TEDxVictoria on November 19 2011 is also available on the web.

[Poetry performance]()

[Research presentation](http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zIfcJgO-JS4#!)

Helen Gurney-Smith of Vancouver Island University’s Centre for Shellfish Research was a guest speaker at the inaugural TEDx event in Victoria while Justin McGrail, co-chair of the Visual Arts Department, took part as a member of Vic Slam, a Victoria-based competitive poetry team.

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” TEDxTalks are independently organized regional events following the TED format.

“It was great to be involved in a day where so many ideas and technologies were shared,” said Gurney-Smith. “It was quite challenging to condense two years worth of my genomics research into an eight-minute presentation but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to show some of the research being undertaken at Vancouver Island University.”

Gurney-Smith’s presentation — “Flexing your mussels! Shellfish as Powerful Ecosystem Indicators”—was a natural fit for TEDx Victoria which adopted the theme “Cultivating Evolution.”

The sold-out event Nov. 19 at the Victoria Conference attracted 400 people who heard an array of presenters including Canadian performer Raffi Cavoukian, inventor and PhD student Derek Jacoby, environmental photographer Garth Lenz and performance psychologist Sean Richardson.

McGrail said it was challenging to perform poetry to a large crowd at such an eclectic gathering. His poem Bees, which explores aspects of fighting, was part of the late-morning program and was delivered between presentations on innovative approaches to dealing with autism and what’s wrong with high-school teaching.

“As a professor, I would have been more comfortable doing a lecture but the poem was warmly received and it was great to be part of an amazing day.”

TED, which is widely known for the TEDTalks videos available online, has its roots in a four-day conference held in California in 1984. Its goal was to bring people together from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design.

More than 900 TEDTalks are available online. The organization’s mission of spreading ideas “to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world” has led to a variety of initiatives including the TEDx regional events.

Videos of presentations at TEDx events are available at:

Organizers of the TEDx Victoria expect to upload videos from the recent event by mid-December.

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More on TEDx Victoria:


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