Science Festival

First, choose your class period

Then take a look at our presentations below

Note, however, that enrollment ended on Jan 27, 2020.

A Scientist at PepsiCo Research and Development

An overview of the various roles a scientist can play at PepsiCo Research and Development, with emphasis on snack food research.


SpeakerRyan Barnes

  • 3 years of R&D with PepsiCo (Frito-Lay)
  • BSc: Food Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • PhD: Food Science (Field of Study: Natural Plant Compound and their effects on Health), Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Associate Principal Scientist PepsiCo

Building Organs: One Gene, One Cell at a Time

We will address how blood vessels are made, all the way from the genetic code to developing embryos.


SpeakerOndine Cleaver, PhD

  • Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
  • Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University
  • BS, Molecular Biology - The University of Texas at Austin

Associate Professor UT Southwestern Medical Center

From Biochemist, to Biotech CEO, to working in Healthcare Marketing

How a PhD-training and staying curious helped me be successful in different careers that are based in STEM


SpeakerLaura Motta Mena

  • PhD in Biochemistry from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas
  • Co-inventor for US Patents
  • Co-founder and CEO of Optologix (2015-2017), a biotech startup that developed and commercialized light-controllable genetic tools for biomedical research
  • 2016 class of Health Wildcatters accelerator program in Dallas, TX
  • Community/PR Director for Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Director, Community and PR Methodist Health System

Polymer Chemistry - More Than Meets the Eye

Polymers, more commonly known as plastics, are widely used in everyday life. Chemists have the ability to tinker with the molecular structure of polymers and therefore affect polymer properties. Polymer applications, including drug delivery and 3D-printing, will be described.


SpeakerDavid Son, Ph.D.

  • B.S. in chemistry from Andrews University (Berrien Springs, MI)
  • Ph.D. in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (Washington, D.C.)
  • Professor at SMU since 1996
  • Conducts research in inorganic and organometallic chemistry, including polymer synthesis and characterization
  • Teaches general chemistry and organic chemistry

Professor of Chemistry SMU

STEM Sells

Having a background in STEM will allow you access to a large and diverse employment ecosystem with tremendous opportunity.


SpeakerKenyon Arens

Kenyon has worked at Silicon Valley based Oracle Corporation for 20 years. Oracle is the world's largest enterprise software company with over 400,000 customers worldwide.

As Group Vice President of Oracle's North American Cloud division, Kenyon is leading a team of 150 people. His teams have worked with some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world. From innovative and disruptive startups such as: AirBnB, Booster, V5, ETCC, to established companies: Amazon, Southwest, Nike, Shell, Halliburton, Visa, Bank of America, among thousands of others.

He is leading his organization through the transformation from an on-premise software company to become the global market-leader for the cloud.

He has lived and worked in San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Miami, and currently resides in Dallas.

Vice President Oracle

The 90/90 Rule

The last 10% of your project can take 90% of the time to complete. What can you do to mitigate this?


SpeakerJah Raphael

  • My expertise lies in an intersection between software development and design in the video game and VR industries.
  • By trade I'm a software developer and have been a programmer on many titles over the past 20 years. From the early feature-phone mobile phone days with the game Doom RPG, to the web-based QUAKE LIVE, and RAGE/Wolfenstein/DOOM on consoles.
  • Beyond just development though, I've run the technology arm of startups and lead teams in the creation of great products from games to websites to interactive VR experiences and lots in between.
  • In my spare time, I created and run the top World of Warcraft progression tracking website, Raider.IO.

CTO/Co-Founder ForwardXP

The Genomic Era of Medicine

This presentation will elucidate the existing and up-and-coming technologies and testing utilized to comprehensively consider patient care. Topics broadly covered will include hereditary cancers, cancer therapies, cardiovascular conditions, pharmacogenomics and direct-to-consumer testing.


SpeakerMichelle Shiller, DO

*Molecular Genetic Pathologist *Utilize a wide array of testing platforms to diagnose, prognosticate and direct treatment of a multitude of disorders *Utilize predominantly genomic findings to direct therapeutic decision-making from a treatment as well as a preventive perspective *Develop algorithms to ensure every patient gets fair and equal consideration for relevant therapies *Assist with implementing programs to ensure the appropriate surveillance for those with hereditary disorders, particularly hereditary cancer predispositions

Molecular Pathologist PathGroup

The Promise of Protons

Learn about the physics and technical aspects of proton therapy and how it is applied to the treatment of cancer. With the promise of proton therapy, we are leading the way with more advanced technology in radiation therapy for improved patient outcomes.


SpeakerGary Barlow

  • More than 35 years of experience in radiation therapy
    • Seven years as Technical Director of the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute
    • Five years as Administrative Director of Texas Center for Proton Therapy
  • A passionate advocate for the benefits of proton therapy
  • An experienced leader and manager

Administrative Director US Oncology

The Rapid Rise of Customer Success

Customer Success is a rapidly growing profession in the field of as-a-Service technologies. We'll explore what this is, and how it's evolving the way technology companies interact with their customers. We will also look at some of the innovative technologies driving change in the world today.


SpeakerSpencer Knapp

  • For the last 9 years, Spencer has helped large corporations understand how and why to adopt cloud services. He coordinates with multiple teams to ensure that his customers are successful in their use of IBM Cloud.
  • He also has led projects to better equip his extended team for success, such as building out an education program for a team of 100+ people worldwide.
  • Spencer holds a BA in Biology from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He would be happy to talk about how he used his liberal arts education to move into technology!

Cloud Platform Customer Success Manager IBM

Full Presentations

Building Interactive Experiences Through the Years: From PC to Console to Mobile to VR and Beyond

As we move rapidly into the future it's worth looking back to see how technology evolution has impacted the development of interactive experiences. During my 20 plus years as a developer I've noticed that while we've made great leaps forward in computer and graphics processing, the fundamentals of gameplay, storytelling, and the development process itself still follow the same rules. I'll give historical context for various insights that I hope will be both informative and entertaining.


SpeakerMatthew Hooper

*Matt Hooper has been creating award winning interactive entertainment for over 20 years.
*As lead designer and creative director, he's shipped dozens of software titles representing tens of millions of copies sold across a wide spectrum of platforms, from mobile to PC to the many consoles.
*In the past 6 plus years he's helped Oculus bring a new level of immersion to the world through VR.
*While spending most of his career on gaming, his focus is broadening into areas including enterprise use cases and future of work through AR/VR.

Program Manager Oculus

Driverless Cars and Big Data

Dr. Poe will discuss how transportation engineers are using automation technology to design future cars and roads for the next generation of transportation.


SpeakerChristopher Poe, Ph.D., P.E.

  • Over 30 years experience in transportation engineering, including academic research and private consulting
  • Licensed professional engineer in Texas
  • Previously Adjunct Professor at University of Texas Arlington and Lecturer at Penn State University
  • Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University
  • M.E. and B.S. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University

Associate Director Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Making Patients Beautiful: Jaw Surgery with Dr. Wolford

See shocking before and after photos of surgical patients.


SpeakerLarry Wolford, DMD

*Adams-Summerhill high school, PA *University of Pittsburgh *Temple Dental School *Private practice Baylor Hospital

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon Baylor University Medical Center

New Advances in Surgery using the da Vinci Robotic System

New advances in robotic technology have allowed surgeons to perform, and patients to undergo difficult procedures in a minimally invasive way. Students will have an opportunity for a hands on experience with the da Vinci Surgical Robot.


SpeakerRichard Salter, MD

  • Attended Abilene Christian University, graduated 1983
  • Attended Texas Tech University Medical School, graduated 1988
  • Internship and Residency at University of Kentucky, completed 1992
  • Specialized practice in Ob-Gyn in Dallas for 25years, started Advanced Ob-Gyn Associaites in 2008
  • Main interest is in minimally invasive and advanced gynecologic surgery, utilizing the da Vinci surgical robotic system.

MD, Ob-Gyn Advanced Ob-Gyn Associates

No Bones About It

An overview of the swimming mechanics of live squid and how that is important for mechanical engineering.


SpeakerPaul Krueger, PhD

  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1997) from the University of California at Berkeley
  • M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics (1998 and 2001, respectively), both from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) in 2002; is currently a Professor and department chair
  • Recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (2004), and the Ford Senior Research Fellowship from SMU (2012)
  • Research interests include unsteady hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, vortex dynamics, bio-fluid mechanics, bio-morphic propulsion, fluid-boundary and fluid-particle interactions, and fluid processes in additive manufacturing

Mechanical Engineering Professor and Chair SMU

Preparing for a Successful Career Lift Off

The future of work requires: • Leading with teamwork • Overcoming failures and adjusting flight plans • Becoming problem finders and problem solvers


SpeakerAlicia Morgan

• Alicia M Morgan is the Vice President of Education and Programs at Frontiers of Flight Museum. • She is a graduate of Tuskegee University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering and New Mexico State University with a Master’s of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering • Her professional experiences in process and program management include working in the aviation and defense industry and a successful transition into nonprofit sector leadership. • She has worked at Fortune 500 companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon • A TEDx speaker, Society of Women Engineers WE Local Honoree, and Dallas Business Journal Women in Technology Advocate Honoree, each year, Alicia engages with over 42,000 students through Museum programs, outreach, and K-12 education.

Vice President of Education and Programs Frontiers of Flight Museum

Submarine Technology - A Mobile Life Support System

An overview of how multiple engineering disciplines provide safe working and living conditions for our submarine force sailors.


SpeakerBob Hodge

Served 24 years in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service with expertise in the operation and maintenance of computer controlled weapon systems. Started a second career in building automation controls and energy conservation. - Specialized in energy management for the lodging industry working for Honeywell serving clients internationally. - Awarded an executive management certificate in Hospitality Business Management from Michigan State University - Eli Broad College of Business. - Joined Cenergistic in 2015 focusing on energy conservation for school districts. Assigned as the Highland Park ISD energy specialist from June 2017 to June 2019. - Currently assigned as a Regional Support Specialist training and providing technical assistance to Cenergistic energy specialists. My wife Linda and I are originally from Connecticut but have lived in Washington D.C., South Carolina, California, Hawaii, and now Texas. We have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren.

Regional Support Specialist Cenergistic

The Science of Performance Nutrition - On the field, in the classroom!

Discover the nutritional science behind human performance, whether it's demonstrated in running faster on the court or scoring higher on the test.


SpeakerMeridan Zerner, MS, RDN, LD

  • BS in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University
  • MS Nutritional Science from Oklahoma University
  • 30 years in fitness, nutrition and wellness
  • Award winning dietitian for Cooper Clinic, Cooper Fitness Center, Cooper Corporate Solutions, etc. for >19 years
  • Writer, media spokesperson, instructor, lecturer and marathoner!

Sports Dietitian (Science of Performance Nutrition) Cooper Clinic