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Physics Professor Shohini Ghose shares her TED Fellow experience
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Shohini Ghose, an associate physics professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, was one of only two Canadians chosen to be a 2014 TED Fellow, an honour that included her delivering a talk at the international TED2014 conference in Vancouver in March.
TED2014 featured sessions with a host of the world’s top scientists, authors, musicians, philosophers and experts, including Chris Hadfield, Edward Snowden, Melinda and Bill Gates, and Sting.
“Everybody is an amazing person working on incredible things, answering big questions,” said Ghose. “Everybody is a dreamer and everybody is an innovator, so it was an incredibly powerful experience to be plugged into.”
In addition to the “mainstage” program, the TED organization chooses a contingent of Fellows from applicants who demonstrate remarkable accomplishments in their fields. Ghose was chosen as an expert and innovator in her field of quantum physics and for her work as director of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science. She joined 20 other 2014 Fellows from around the world at a retreat in Whistler before the conference.
“One of the greatest experiences was meeting all the other Fellows because you start having conversations you wouldn’t normally have, and you start having new ideas and new collaborations,” said Ghose.
After the retreat, each Fellow delivered a four-minute talk during two TED Fellow sessions that kicked off the conference.
“I got to explain quantum computing and chaos theory in four minutes!” said Ghose with a laugh. “That was quite a challenge, I have to say. It was probably the shortest talk I’ve ever given in my life, but it was definitely the most well-prepared talk I’ve given. Every minute counts, so every single word and sentence was carefully chosen over many months.”
Ghose described being on stage as both the longest and the shortest four minutes of her life. “It gave me a new understanding of how to communicate in particular ways, and I think, especially as scientists, we don’t do that very well in many situations. That was a hugely important part of the whole experience, and very fulfilling.”
Ghose found the time speaking with attendees between each session especially fruitful. “There’s no small talk at TED,” she said. “Everyone who is attending the conference is there because they want to talk about intense ideas and about the future.”
Ghose said she is excited that the TED Fellows program provides ongoing support and mentoring, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with a community of leaders to make positive change in the world.
TED is a non-profit organization that brings together the world’s most inspired thinkers and makes their talks and performances available to the world. This year’s TED conference ran from March 17 to 21 and marked the organization’s 30th anniversary. For more information about TED, visit www.ted.com.