TEDxBrisbane 2017 Speakers and Performers


Trudi Collet

Dr Trudi Collet is a biochemist whose research focuses on biodiscovery with an emphasis on the potential healing properties of Australian native plants.

Trudi is currently doing pioneering work in the development of novel therapeutics for global infections and diseases. Specifically, Dr Collet and her team, the Indigenous Medicines Group based at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus, have recently discovered a novel compound from an Australian native plant that can totally kill the Zika virus without damage or cytotoxic effects to the host mammalian cells. For the non-biochemists amongst us: that’s a safe potential cure for the Zika virus!

If that’s not enough, Trudi’s work has also led to the discovery of a novel plant-derived broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is effective against four of the World Health Organisations top 12 priority bacterial pathogens. Dr Collet’s Indigenous Medicines Group aims to bridge the gap between science and healthcare, with the research also focusing on understanding the properties of native plants and how such discoveries can be translated from lab bench to product and finally to the patient, with the intent of improving the quality of life.

Rolf Gomes

Dr Rolf Gomes is a Brisbane-based electrical engineer turned cardiologist who founded Heart of Australia, a revolutionary mobile clinic designed to mobilise specialist cardiology healthcare technology for people living in rural and remote Queensland. With the support of his wife and a hefty mortgage on their home, they launched the first Heart of Australia bus.

The 18-wheeler semi-trailer ‘clinic’, fondly known in the bush as ‘The Heart Truck’ was personally designed by Rolf.  Drawing on his engineering skills as well as his medical training and experience, the Heart Truck carries all the must-have tools that Rolf believed were essential to be able to provide genuine, on-the-spot cardiology diagnosis, including stress test equipment.

The Heart Truck travels 8,000kms (5,000 miles) each month in order to visit 13 outback communities throughout Southwest and Central Queensland. Six years on, the Heart Truck has (to date) welcomed to more than 3,700 GP-referred patients, and saved more than 150 lives by diagnosing patients with previously undetected, critical cardiac conditions. Rolf has begun design work on a second and larger clinic-on-wheels that will allow him to take more specialist doctors, from a variety of fields ‘on the road’ to the people of the outback.

George Blair-West

Dr George Blair-West is an author, researcher and psychiatrist in Brisbane. He sub-specialises in trauma and relationship/sex therapy.

In the 1990s, as a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland, his peer-reviewed research papers literally rewrote the textbooks on suicide and depression. He then turned his focus to the overlooked research into the psychological forces that prevent weight loss.  The bestselling Weight Loss for Food Lovers: Understanding our minds and why we sabotage our weight loss (translated into Dutch and Chinese) and related research papers resulted in keynote addresses, a regular spot on the Today breakfast show and media appearances around the world. In 2010 he was named one of the top 20 most influential obesity experts in the world.

His inspirational novel, The Way of The Quest, was a ‘how to’ of finding one’s meaning and purpose in life and went on to receive three international awards. But it is helping people make sense of relationships that he sees as his most important work. He is currently writing his fourth book, How to Make the Most Important Decision of Your Life, with his dating coach daughter, Jiveny.

Sister Angela Mary Doyle

In a world that can sometimes feel violently polarised, intolerant and inequitable, Sister Angela Mary has dedicated her life to being a champion of social justice, kindness and community.

Having grown up on a farm in Ireland during World War II, she travelled to Australia in 1947, responding to a call for more Sisters of Mercy to come to Brisbane. Despite being trained as a teacher, she was dispatched to the Mater Hospital and retrained as a nurse.  However, it was the area of hospital administration, in which she would make her mark. She was eventually appointed Chief Executive of the Mater Hospitals – a position she held for 22 years.

In the early ‘80s, during her tenure, complete opposition to helping those with HIV and AIDs was the norm. When the Premier of the day declared that any such illness was a punishment from God and that no help should be given, Sister Angela Mary knew that the Sisters of Mercy, an order founded for the poor, the sick and anyone disadvantaged must act. Quietly and respectfully Sister approached the Queensland AIDS Council with offers of support, providing housing, hospice and nursing support, in secret, to those in need.

Arne Nilsen

Arne Nilsen’s design work solves potential catastrophes. A Design Director of the global engineering consulting firm, Aurecon, his portfolio of work is rapidly becoming a story of natural crises averted.

Arne focuses on the resilience and adaptability of existing and new maritime infrastructure in the face of extreme environmental events – flooding, storm surges and cyclonic waves, for example. He recently experienced the power of a cyclonic sea as Project Director for the award-winning recovery of the Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal’s offshore jetty and wharf in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi.

In 2011, the infamous floods severely damaged or destroyed seven of Brisbane’s 25 CityCat fast ferry terminals. As Project Director of the Flood Recovery Ferry Terminals, a significant upgrade project by Brisbane City Council, Arne worked with Brendan Gaffney of COX Architecture to protect the city against potentially paralysing effects of future floods. Their radical design work received top honours at the Australian Good Design Awards in 2017.

Brendan Gaffney

Brendan Gaffney, in his role as Director of Cox Architecture, has led some of Brisbane’s most significant urban renewal and waterfront projects – the Powerhouse Centre for the Arts, the New Farm Riverwalk, the Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre Grey St Expansion, and Newstead’s Gasworks, for example.

He has made a name for himself in ferry infrastructure, having overseen separate projects dating from 1999, both in Brisbane and at Barangaroo in Sydney. His most important and revolutionary project was the Flood Recovery Terminals on the Brisbane River, working with Arne Nilsen to incorporate world-first innovative ideas related to flood resilience and equitable access.

The resulting ferry terminals are designed to withstand the sort of flood Brisbane hopes it will never see again. His life-saving work received top honours at the Australian Good Design Awards in 2017.

Kristina Wild

Kristina Wild is a self-taught, Brisbane-based photographer who uses her lens to capture the beauty, diversity and authenticity of human moments.

Growing up, Kristina always felt like an outsider, and you can see this shine through in the quirky, interesting and counterculture-esque weddings and family moments she chooses to shoot.

While raised in a small town, her mother infused in her a love of travel, adventure and possibility that Kristina took to heart. Kristina fell into photography, following the birth of her first daughter at seventeen.  Disappointed in the quality of the photographs she had captured of her precious new daughter, Kristina resolved to learn to use a camera properly to do those critical, human moments justice on their family journey. With no formal photographic training of any kind, Kristina’s resulting globe-trotting photographic career is the result of natural talent, a passion for travel and precious moments, and a lot of hard work. Plus, as Kristina says, you should never underestimate what you can learn from YouTube videos.

Denise Hagan

Denise Hagan works at the complicated intersection where the very sincere desire to help remote Aboriginal communities held by governments, philanthropists and nonprofits alike, clashes with entrenched, misinformed and western-centric attitudes to engagement, empowerment, funding and solutions.

Invited by the community elders to the remote Aboriginal town of Lockhart River in the far north of Cape York, Denise was meant to stay three months. She ended up staying five and a half years and is currently living in Lockhart River again. Denise came to develop a deep understanding of the multi-generational poverty and disadvantage faced by the community, the strength and determination of the people living there, and the cold hard fact that despite good intentions, the standard government procedures for programs and funding would not deliver the solutions needed.

Denise quit her job and founded the Puuya Foundation, dedicated to developing everyday leaders in the community, in order to empower them to shape and determine their own future. Denise’s work has been recognised locally and internationally. Most recently, the Puuya Foundation won the Queensland Premier’s Reconciliation Award 2017.

Gemma Sharp

Dr Gemma Sharp is a researcher, lecturer and practising psychologist. She is currently exploring the increasingly popular cosmetic procedure of labiaplasty, also known as “designer vagina” surgery. Dr Sharp is investigating the social and cultural reasons behind the labiaplasty trend, the psychological outcomes of this procedure, and its troubling impact particularly on adolescents and adult women.

Dr Sharp started her career in the lab as a biomedical scientist focusing on breast cancer treatments but decided her skills were best used outside of the lab with actual patients. She took her science background to the field of clinical psychology and hasn’t looked back since. She completed her PhD at Flinders University in Adelaide in 2016. After a brief interlude in the “Wild” West of Australia at Perth’s Curtin University, Dr Sharp is set to continue her labiaplasty research and psychological practice as a NHMRC Early Career Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne commencing in 2018.

Richard Denniss

Dr Richard Denniss is the Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He is a prominent economist, author and public policy commentator. In the words of Ross Gittins, Economist Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Richard ‘is the freshest economic thinker I know, brimming with ideas, challenging old views and finding new opportunities for progress’

His latest book Curing Affluenza: How to Buy Less Stuff and Save the World was published in 2017. It follows up from his best seller from 2005 (with Clive Hamilton) Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough. In his latest book Dr Denniss urges us to shun consumerism (the love of buying things) and embrace materialism (the love of the things themselves). In turn he urges us to love our things, cherish them, repair them and find them a new home when we are done with them. He argues that buying more services and less stuff will not harm the economy, but simply reshape it ways that create more jobs and do less environmental harm.

A prolific writer, Dr Denniss is a regular contributor to The Monthly, as well as writing regular columns for The Canberra Times and The Australian Financial Review. His Podcast series is called The Lucky Country.

Tessa Boyd-Caine

As the founding CEO of Health Justice Australia, Tessa works tirelessly to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community have access to lawyers before their legal problems become health problems.

Health Justice Australia, established in 2016, is the national centre for health justice partnerships. The organisation supports collaborations between legal and health services, to identify and respond to health issues that are being caused by or exacerbated by issues with legal remedies.

Tessa has a strong history of working to support human rights and social justice. She has worked in health, criminal justice and human rights organisations in Australia and internationally. She was previously Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Her report of her Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Nonprofit Leadership focused on sustaining trust and confidence in Australian charities, and her PhD focused on the detention and release of mentally disordered offenders.

Cedar Anderson

Cedar Anderson is co-inventor of the Flow Hive, the revolutionary honey extraction system that represents the most significant advance in beekeeping in the last 150 years.

Flow Hive shot to fame in February 2015, when its crowdfunding campaign, with a target of $70,000, attracted a record-breaking US$12.2 million in just six weeks. The invention was driven by a lifelong love of bees, the desire to find a mechanism for harvesting that was less stressful for bees, and a belief in the merits of using innovative design to make a better world.

FlowHive, which Cedar invented with his father Stuart, has been recognised for its unique innovation, winning the Good Design Australia Product of the Year Award 2016, the D&AD White Pencil Award for Urban Living 2016, the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award 2017 and Silver at the World Beekeeping Awards 2017.

Since its launch in 2015, the Flow Hive has inspired thousands of new beekeepers around the world with over 48,000 customers in over 139 countries, helping people to have a stronger connection with their environment.

Ben MacMahon

Ben MacMahon is a Brisbane-based industrial designer. He strongly believes in the power of good design to create positive experiences, help people and to elicit positive change.

After hearing a university lecturer refer to product design work as ‘just making sexy trash’, Ben decided that he was going to use his skills as a designer to do something that helped people rather than just end up in landfill somewhere.

In 2012 after his mother suffered a severe stroke, Ben began researching the acute effects of traumatic brain injury and treatment methods. He used this research to design a concept system for the treatment of visual neglect – a lesser known but incredibly pervasive condition afflicting many brain injury sufferers.

Matt Granfield

Matt is a writer, entrepreneur and business person with 15 years’ experience in the marketing, start-up and tourism industries.

By day, Matt is in charge of marketing the City of Brisbane, as General Manager of Marketing and Communications at Brisbane Marketing – the city’s economic development and tourism board. When the sun goes down, the cape comes out, and he is founder and chair of Spare Keys, a ground-breaking charity that makes spare hotel rooms available to people who need a roof over their head.

Matt studied marketing at Harvard Business School, has an MBA from the University of Queensland and is a proud Queenslander, father of two, retired hipster and occasional author.

Peter Ellerton

Peter Ellerton is a director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project and a lecturer in critical thinking and education.

As a high school teacher of physics and philosophy, his interest in the public understanding of science and the nature of rational public debate led him further into the world of academia. While working on his thesis in Teaching for Thinking at the University of Queensland, Peter worked closely with the International Baccalaureate Organisation to create the subject Nature of Science currently in pilot around the world.

His passion is working with teachers to improve outcomes in student thinking.


Anisa Nandaula

Anisa is an up-and-coming spoken word poet. She is the 2017 Queensland Slam Poetry Champion and a runner-up for the National Australian Slam Poetry Finals. Her political poetry focuses not only on highlighting social issues but on educating and engaging people to have difficult discussions. Anisa is one of the lead organisers for Voice of Colour, a poetry organisation working to elevate the voices of people of colour in the poetry scene.

Jeremy Neale

Jeremy Neale is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has just released his debut solo album ‘Getting The Team Back Together’.

Jeremy has toured nationally and internationally, learnt a whole lot of life lessons through the fine art of trial and error, recently ventured into the wild world of comic book publication, and currently holds the number one position on Google Images for the search term ‘Man In Skivvy’. Jeremy also fronts the Brisbane-based garage pop collective ‘Velociraptor’.

Chris Sheehy

Chris Sheehy conveys his passion for music with unmatched energy. The 27-year-old Brisbane boy is a multi-instrumentalist and prolific songwriter all in one. A self-proclaimed genre-hopper, Chris ties together styles from jazz to country and everywhere in between to create his own signature sound. He is always furthering his ability as a drummer, bassist, pianist, guitarist and vocalist – and is always adding new instruments to his arsenal.

Waveney Yasso

Brisbane-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Waveney Yasso studied Contemporary Music at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Since graduating, she has dedicated her time to performing and composing, as well as children’s theatre. She’s worked with the best in the industry, sharing the stage with Beyoncé’s band, Xavier Rudd and has workshopped with  Billy Joel’s band, P!NK’s band and Ray Thistlewayte.

Waveney has the ability to capture audiences with her emotive lyrics and catchy melodies. Her passion for politics and world events is evident and strongly portrayed through her music. Her influences include a range artists such as Blue King Brown, Lauryn Hill, Amel Larriex, Eryka Badu and more.

The Achilles

The Achilles comprises of four kin – Megan (guitar & vocals), Joel (mandolin &bass), Tom (drums & ukulele) and Dan (trumpet & keys). Their blend of indie, folk and alt rock creates a dynamic and addictive sound.

Their 2016 debut self titled EP was a raw, real recording intended to reflect their energetic live performances.

The Achilles have just released their shimmery new single ‘Matches’. Recorded by Chris Collins of Tigertown, Matches gives a nod to the band’s early acoustic roots but also incorporates ambient space, power and beat. The Achilles have a diverse arrangement and energy that always lights up the venue.

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