Talented, Transformative and Full of Stories
Meet some of the BIF2016 storytellers
Andrew Hessel was referred to as a “biohacker” in WIRED Magazine to simplify things because he claimed “practically no-one understands what I do”. As a Distinguished Research Scientist at Autodesk, Hessel is a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies, helping society to better understand the changes ahead in life science. He is trained in microbiology and genetics, and has continually worked at the forefront of genomics, first to read and comprehend bacterial, human, and other genomes and more recently to write them. He believes the technology that makes this possible, called synthetic biology, is revolutionary and that it will eventually surpass information technology (IT) as an economic engine and driver of societal change.
Over the course of his career Andrew has given dozens of invited talks related to synthetic biology, for groups that include Autodesk Inc., the FBI, the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, TEDx, Intel Inc., the New America Foundation, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative, Statoil and he will add BIF’s Innovation Summit to his list come this September.
Kavita Patel is a practicing primary care internist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dr. Patel has served in the Obama Administration as director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the White House and played a critical role in policy development and evaluation of policy initiatives connected to health reform, financial regulatory reform, and economic recovery issues.
In addition to her White House experience she also has a deep understanding of Capitol Hill from her time spent on the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s staff. As deputy staff director on health, she acted as a policy analyst and trusted aide to the Senator and was part of the senior staff of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee under Sen. Kennedy’s leadership.
Dr. Patel has an extensive research and clinical background, having worked as a researcher at the RAND Corporation and as a practicing physician in both California and Oregon. She is a previous Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, and while at Brookings, she will return to providing clinical care as an internal medicine practitioner. She earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center and her masters in public health from the University of California Los Angeles.
Matt Cottam is an Advanced Life Support Paramedic and served on the United States’ federal disaster medical team and National Ski Patrol. He is also an Ocean Yachtmaster (RYA) and Rescue Diver (PADI), but that’s just what he does in his spare time. Matt is co-founder and Chief Design Officer at Tellart, a design studio that connects the physical world to the digital world creating interactive objects, immersive spaces and digital experiences for brands, museums and multi-national companies.
With Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID) degrees from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, USA), as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design with a concentration in Interaction Design from Umeå University (UID, Sweden) Matt has directed projects and strategy for clients such as Google, Samsung, YouTube, Target, Science Museum (London), Nokia Design, Humana, Philips and Otis Elevator — many of which have won prestigious design awards.
Roberto Rivera was once labeled an “at-risk” and “disadvantaged” teen. Having been helped by educators and youth workers to turn his own life around transforming himself from a dope dealer to a hope dealer, Roberto now works to apply the best practices in engaging youth using practical and relevant methods as the President and Lead Change Agent of The Good Life Alliance, an organization that publishes multi-media educational tools and trains educators, youth workers, and parents to connect positive youth development to community development.