TEDxUQ 2013: 10 Years Later



On 23 March 2013, TEDxUQ held their inaugural TED-style conference. Since then, the event has grown from its humble beginnings as a small, 100-person event in the University’s Physiology Building to one of the University’s premier avenues for sharing game-changing research and innovations. 

The inaugural event featured six speakers from diverse backgrounds, under the theme: The Extraordinary. We caught up with three of those speakers to learn what has changed in their lives and fields over the past ten years…

Professor Matthew Hornsey

Professor Matthew Hornsey’s talk, Imposters: The psychology of pretending to be someone you’re not, has gone on to become one of TEDxUQ’s most viewed talks. Reflecting on his experience giving a TEDxUQ talk, Professor Hornsey admitted that he hadn’t actually watched a TED or TEDx talk prior to doing his talk, so he walked into it with a self-proclaimed “spirit of naivety”. Professor Hornsey remembers “being unusually nervous, mindful of the fact that the digital trace could potentially outlive [him]”. His hunch was correct; to date, Professor Hornsey’s talk has garnered over 284,000 views, and he still gets requests from journalists and book authors to comment on impostors – almost always because they had seen his Talk. As for his research, Professor Hornsey now specialises in the rejection of science, focusing on areas like climate scepticism and “antivax” ideologies. While he no longer works in the exact same field, Professor Hornsey remarked that he looks back fondly on the memory of doing this talk, and the stories that came to his attention as a result of people’s engagement with it.

Professor Jimmy Botella

Professor Jimmy Botella’s talk, Waiter, there is a gene in my soup!, discussed misconceptions surrounding genetically modified food and its role in our society. Since delivering his talk in 2013, Professor Botella claims that “there has been a quantum leap in crop biotechnology, and its name is genome editing, more commonly known as CRISPR”. The advent of CRISPR technology has provided the capability to introduce extremely precise changes in the genomes of living organisms, including plants, and the impact has been immediate and enormous. The relatively simple nature of CRISPR has facilitated its adoption by hundreds of laboratories around the world and the first CRISPR crops are now being commercialised. Improvements that usually took 10-15 years can now be achieved in 1 year at a fraction of the cost. Ultimately, Professor Botella’s talk serves as an incredible reminder of the speed and impact of scientific advances on wider humanity.

Professor Thomas Suddendorf

For Professor Thomas Suddendorf, “it was a great honour to be asked to present at the inaugural TEDxUQ event”. His talk Clues about the evolution of our extraordinary minds discussed his research on apes’ capacity to recognize their reflection and on what makes human minds so distinct. While there have been many exciting new findings over the last decade, the main points of his TEDx Talk still hold true today. In fact, he still uses some of the slides from his Talk today! Currently, Professor Suddendorf’s primary research focus is “the evolution of our capacity to travel mentally in time”. This is also the topic of his new books: The Invention of Tomorrow, co-authored with two of his colleagues, Jonathan Redshaw and Adam Bulley – who, back in 2013, were one of his Graduate and Undergraduate students respectively. Put aptly by Professor Suddendorf: “Time flies”. 

Interested in attending TEDxUQ 2023: Small Ripples, Big Waves to hear from our next group of game-changing speakers? Tickets go on sale on Monday 19 June at 6:30pm. Head to the TEDxUQ 2023 Facebook Event for more details.