Science Festival

First, choose your class period

Then take a look at our presentations below

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

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

Civil Engineering and Beyond

Grayson will be discussing the basics of civil engineering, what it means, and what it takes to become a civil engineer. Additionally, Grayson will discuss what it takes to be successful as a civil engineer, and opportunities which can be capitalized in the industry. Grayson will also discuss career trajectory and show many examples of different kinds of projects available in the industry.


SpeakerGrayson Hughes, PE

  • Grayson was born & raised in Highland Park, went to Texas A&M University to study Civil Engineering
  • Grayson has been practicing Civil Engineering in the North Texas market for over a decade
  • Grayson has worked starting from the bottom as an entry level designer to managing an office for a national engineering firm
  • Grayson works in the private land development industry, developing new projects all over Texas and outside in other states
  • Grayson was highly involved in band during HS, played trumpet and was the senior Drum Major of the band.

Civil Engineer WGI

Digital Fabrication at the Atomic Scale

Digital information technology changed your world; digital fabrication at the atomic scale will change it again. I will explain how and why you should consider being an engineer.


SpeakerJohn Randall, Ph. D.

  • I am a card carrying Nano-Nerd with a PhD from the University of Houston, 38 years of Industrial experience making really small things, and 31 US patents
  • I have worked for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory (4 years), Texas Instruments (15 years with 2 years in Belgium), and Zyvex as CTO, VP, and Pres (18 years)
  • Zyvex Labs has a plot to rule the world with Atom by Atom Manufacturing and is working to heal the blind (Human Trials in 2020)
  • I am addicted to computer programming, robotics, and playing Alto Sax
  • I love my wife and kids

President Zyvex Labs

Engineer your future!

In his presentation, Peter Balyta from Texas Instruments will discuss what you can be when you engineer your future through the use of math and science.


SpeakerPeter Balyta, Ph.D.

  • Lead academic engagement and corporate citizenship for Texas Instruments, and serve as president of TI Education Technology.
  • Also lead TI’s university research program, which involves partnering with engineering schools on research projects in life-improving areas from energy harvesting to automotive safety.
  • Serve on a variety of boards that support my desire to engage students in STEM subjects and help them build the problem-solving and critical thinking skills needed to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
  • Joined TI in 2000, and bring my experience from the classroom and leadership roles in marketing, sales and product strategy to support TI’s education vision of equipping and inspiring future generations of engineers.
  • Prior to joining TI, I was a mathematics educator, and math and science district supervisor in my native Canada.

Vice President, Academic Engagement and Corporate Citizenship, and President, Education Technology Texas Instruments

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

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

Restoring Eyesight Using the Most Advanced Bionic Eye in the World at the Size of a Grain of Rice

The presentation will explore how Nanotechnology allowed us to make the world's smallest bioretinal implant that will restore eyesight of blind individuals. It will also explore the growing world of Nanotechnology and Microtechnology.


SpeakerRahul Saini

*COO @ Teliatry Inc to cure chronic disease like epilepsy, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, spinal cord injury and more using minimally-invasive and non-invasive neuromodulation solutions including Brain-Machine interface. *Director of MEMS @ Nanoretina Inc. where he is the system architect for the smallest bionic eye in the world with a goal to restore eyesight for the blind. *Director of Micro and Biosystems @ Zyvex Labs with a vision to improve molecular diagnostics for detecting and curing disease. He is also head of mechanical design for Zyvex's nanotechnology initiative for atomically precise manufacturing. * Rahul's formal education includes degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from IIT, and University of Florida. * Rahul has also been adjunct professor at University of Texas at Arlington where he taught microsystems design to graduate students

COO Teliatry Inc.

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

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

Honey Money!!

Honey bee business. Bee removal. Pollination. Honey sales.


SpeakerMichael Leidner

Owner - South Texas Apiaries LLC

Middle and High Scool Science Teacher

Physics, Chemistry, Biology, AP Biology, 6th & 7th grade

Mud Engineer - Halliburton

B.S. Range and Wildlife Management - Texas A&M University Kingsville

M.Ed. Education Adminsitration - University of Texas at Arlington

Owner South Texas Apiaries LLC

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

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

Video Career Paths plus Roles and Responsibilities of video game developers

Video Career Paths Roles and Responsibilities of video game developers


SpeakerGary Brubaker

  • Gary Keith Brubaker was appointed Director of SMU Guildhall in June 2012. Brubaker has extensive experience in the games industry, having served as a development director, a manager of core technology, and lead programmer.
  • He has worked for major studios and indie developers including LucasArts, Atari and Electronic Arts
  • He has shipped games for many popular brands including: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lego, Mission Impossible, Terminator, Lord of the Rings, Dungeon & Dragons and Monkey Island.

Director SMU Guildhall