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  • Fatima Guettatfi

Meet our Main Event Speakers!

Our main event, titled Currents, will take place on March 4th where we will have 12 amazing speakers and one incredible performance group! Below you can find this year's speakers names and a quick bio. We hope you are as excited as we are for Currents!

First up, let’s meet educator, music producer, and DJ, Dr. Jason Rawls! Known for his music production work with artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Domo Genesis (Odd Future), Capital Steez (Pro Era), Beastie Boys, Aloe Blacc, and more, Dr. Jason Rawls is also an educator with over two decades of teaching experience. As an Associate Professor of Instruction at The Patton College of Education at Ohio University, Dr. Rawls is developing the first Hip-Hop Based Education program in a College of Education in the United States and has taught courses on Hip-Hop culture at several institutions of higher education.

Next, please give a warm welcome to Dr. Parvati Singh! Dr. Singh is a psychiatric epidemiologist in the College of Public Health at OSU. She studies racial disparities in health outcomes, particularly disparities in population-level mental health outcomes.

Third in our speaker release is researcher, advocate, and listener Dr. Angela Tobin! Dr. Tobin was inspired to learn more about kinship care after witnessing her grandparent raise their grandchild, her cousin, for over 10 years. Through founding and leading an online support group for caregivers, as well as delving into research experiences around kinship care, Angela has made it her mission to listen and amplify the stories of kinship families, who so often are unseen and under-supported.

Fourth in our speaker release is novelist, journalist, and screenwriter, Dr. Julia Keller! Dr. Keller, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is the author of an eight-volume mystery series, a three-volume science fiction series, as well as co-writer of the screenplay for the feature film Spider & Jessie. Recipient of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, she has taught at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame.

Next, we are happy to introduce harm reductionist, OSU undergraduate, and nonprofit leader, Sydney Sauer! Sauer is a harm reduction advocate who helped build The SOAR Initiative, an overdose prevention nonprofit that serves over 30,000 Ohioans each year. With an academic background in sociology and computer science, Sydney is a firm believer in the power of community-center research and data to solve social problems like the overdose crisis.

Sixth on our roster is mental health advocate, learner, and “just a guy,” Harry Miller! A senior student in mechanical engineering and a former football player for The Ohio State University, Harry Miller is hoping to be an advocate for mental health and to be an open ear on campus for those who need help or want to help.

The next speaker is astrologist and fiction writer, Dr. Michael VanPutte! Dr. VanPutte is an avid writer and teaches information security at The Ohio State University. He’s served as the Director of the Army Artificial Intelligence Center, Deputy Director of Operations for what has become US CyberCommand, DARPA Program Manager, and has consulted with government and commercial entities on all aspects of cyber conflict.

Introducing hydrologist and engineer, Steve Lyon! Lyon seeks to improve water resources management in the face of coupled climate and land-use changes. Central to his research is assessing the viability of strategies associated with the current and future sustainability of working landscapes, particularly with regard to practices targeting improved water quality.

Ninth in our speaker release is the adventurous and effervescent Alexa Paulay-Simmons! Born congenitally deaf, Paulay-Simmons is fortunate to have grown up in a multi-generational deaf family and large deaf community in Maryland where she was able to communicate, learn, and explore life using American Sign Language everyday. She received a bilingual education from Maryland School for the Deaf, later she went on to graduate with an M.A. in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University, a bilingual university for deaf people.

Tenth in our speaker release is Democratic theorist, political scientist, and critical optimist, Michael Neblo! Neblo is a Democratic theorist and political scientist at OSU where he directs the Institute for Democratic Engagement & Accountability (IDEA). His work focuses on helping regular citizens form and effectively communicate their considered judgements to government officials.

Next up, we are thrilled to introduce teacher and literary historian, Tom Hawkins! Hawkins takes inspiration from George Orwell’s quip that those who control the past control the future and applies that lesson to his work in the Classics Department at Ohio State. His recent teaching and scholarship have focused on intersections between the legacies of Greco-Roman antiquity and Caribbean cultures, especially in Haiti.

Our last but certainly not least speaker announcement is DEIJ Educator and social justice advocate, Sophia Antoun! Antoun trains faculty and staff as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Education Program Specialist at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Sophia has been an educator for over ten years and has committed her career to educating on social justice, DEI concepts, and advocating for her Asian American Pacific Islander and Middle Eastern North African communities.

That’s a wrap on our speaker release for this year! We can’t wait for you to hear these amazing talks at Currents, coming to you live March 4th from Mershon Auditorium! Be sure to keep an eye on our social media pages (found below) for updates and you can find the link to buy tickets here! Act fast, early bird tickets close this Friday at 11:59pm!



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