2021 Annual Conference
February 27th, 2021

Thank You For Coming To Our Conference!

Recordings are available at tedxrutgers.com/speakers

A tree’s strength lies not with its branches, but with the roots embedded beneath it. Elaborate and far reaching, these entangled lifelines preserve connections that would otherwise remain unseen. Whether it be the canopies of the Amazon rainforest, the sprawling prairies of America’s West, or the geometric grids of the world’s farms, each has a distinct imprint that defines what grows above.

We celebrate our roots to honor the lives of those before us, as their decisions and discoveries provide the foundations from which we grow. We look to roots to unearth complicated truths and histories, from the rise of great civilizations to the origins of life. And while roots connect us to the past, acknowledging these connections allows us to look forward with a greater understanding of ourselves and those around us.

This year TEDxRutgers is paying tribute to our roots. We hope to challenge our audience to think about the embedded ideas, stories, and institutions which shape the unique perspectives of each and every one of us. When we come together we can spread our roots by sharing ideas, interweaving lifetimes of thought to improve our future.

Event Details



This event is open to the general public, not just Rutgers students!


Impactful Speakers

We will be showcasing a series of talented and creative minds from all over the country.



TEDxRutgers will take place virtually on the Hopin platform.


February 27th, 2021

We will be unveiling on February 27th, 2021 @ 12 PM.

Meet the talented speakers


Chris Gavaler

Professor at Washington and Lee University

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor of English at W&L University, where he serves as comics editor of Shenandoah magazine. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals. He reviews graphic novels monthly at PopMatters.com and blogs weekly at thepatronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com.


Chhavi Verg

Model, Actress, & Host

Chhavi Verg is a model, actress, host, and former beauty queen. She was Miss NJ USA 2017 and first runner-up at Miss USA 2017, making history as the first Indian-American to make it that far in the Miss USA competition. Born in India, Chhavi came to the United States with her family when she was four years old and was brought up in Edison, NJ. Chhavi is a Rutgers alumnus, graduating as an honors scholar and magna cum laude with a B.S. in marketing. Since then, Chhavi has become a representative for South Asians in the fashion, entertainment, and creative spheres. She has been featured in music videos, on billboards, in magazines, and in various commercials. Chhavi is passionate about giving back to her community and is a strong proponent of women’s equality, empowerment, and education.


Brent Leggs

Executive Director of AACHAF

Brent Leggs is the Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the largest preservation campaign ever undertaken on behalf of African American historic places. Through the Action Fund, he leads a broad community of leaders and activists in honor of the clarion that preserving African American cultural assets is fundamental to understanding the American story. Leggs is the author of Preserving African American Historic Places, a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, a recipient of the Robert G. Stanton National Preservation Award, and an Associate Professor and Senior Advisor to the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites.


Bastian Purrer

Non-profit Founder & Privacy Advocate

Bastian is the co-founder and inventor of humanID, a nonprofit and open-source online identity preserving privacy and blocking bots, spam and abusive users online. Before focusing his work on protecting privacy and fighting disinformation, Bastian pursued a career as Founder & Executive at leading e-commerce companies, ranging from global success stories to complete failures. He was among Groupon’s first employees, and later the first CMO at Southeast Asia's e-commerce giant Zalora, and CMO at Silicon Valley’s Homejoy. Most recently, Bastian built Indonesian e-commerce app LYKE. Bastian has built teams across various cultures and countries in Asia, Europe and North America. He recently graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Anik Khan

Artist & Entrepreneur

Anik Khan is a Queens, NY based musician and entrepreneur who makes hip hop that likes to travel, drawing from his immigrant roots and his inner city upbringing. He's been championed by various tastemakers and platforms including Billboard, Beats1, Ebro, Zane Lowe and Sir Elton John.

Meet our Student Speakers


Linda Sun

Student at Rutgers University

Linda Sun, a junior at the Rutgers Business School, has always dreamed of joining the TED stage. Inspired by speakers of the past, Linda realized the life long lasting impact of a compelling narrative and set out to contribute her own. After joining the millions of other dating app users this quarantine, it became apparent to her that the digital age has created a rampant contagion of love seeking millennials and the surmounting pressure many face to slosh off singlehood. In an attempt to find love herself, she created a dating profile, uploaded onto social media, and began swiping right.


Jake Rattigan

Student at Rutgers University

Jake Rattigan is a third-year student in the Rutgers University Honors College, studying Psychology, Economics, and Spanish. He currently serves as an Alternative Breaks Site Leader, Honors College Lead Ambassador, and Research Assistant in the Social, Health, & Interdisciplinary Psychophysiology Lab. Having taken a social justice and systems approach to healthcare, Jake plans to pursue a Ph.D. and career in Clinical Neuropsychology, with the goal of starting his own practice. While his primary research interests include motor control and decision-making processes, Jake is also intrigued by motivation, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. He believes that self-compassion practices are essential components of recovery and daily life.

Meet the Team behind the magic

A few words about TEDx

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxRutgers, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxRutgers event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

About TEDxRutgers

On February 27, 2021 TEDxRutgers is bringing together world-leading thinkers, makers, and doers at Rutgers University to discuss doing the unprecedented. The audience will be composed of a diverse yet curated mix of students, professors, and thought leaders from Rutgers and beyond, for a stimulating day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and art that will spark new ideas and opportunities for all.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. 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.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED's media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can attend?

The conference is open to everyone!

How much are tickets?

Tickets are free for everyone.

How can I nominate someone (or myself) to speak?

Unfortunately, we've filled all of our spots for this year's conference. However, feel free to submit a nomination for our 2022 conference at tedxrutgers.com/nominate!

We'd love to hear from you!


If you have any questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

TEDxRutgers 2017