Keynote Speakers

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Keynote Speaker: Nina Tandon, PhD, MBA

“Managing your Goals in the Face of Uncertainty” (View Abstract)

Dr. Nina Tandon is a current TED Senior Fellow, post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Lab for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, teaching a “Bioelectricity” class. A native New-Yorker, she spent her early career at telecom (Avaya Labs), where she developed prototype applications for top clients and co-authored two patents. She transitioned to biomedical engineering via a Fulbright Scholarship in Italy’s Università di Roma, where she worked with a sensors and microsystems group on an electronic odor detector being tested as a non-invasive lung cancer detector. She completed her M.S. in Electrical Engineering at MIT and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering under Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic at Columbia University, researching cardiac tissue engineering. She received Presidential Fellowships at both MIT and Columbia University. After consulting for pharmaceutical clients at McKinsey from 2008-2010, she earned an Executive MBA at Columbia University while resuming her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue engineering applications. She has presented her work at TED, Singularity University, and Google, in addition to many prestigious academic conferences around the world. In 2012 she was named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company. In her spare time, she practices yoga, running (she ran five marathons in 2012), metalsmithing, playing with puppies, baking and exploring.

Omnia El-Hakim

Keynote Speaker: Omnia El-Hakim, PhD

“Changing Challenges to Opportunities” (View Abstract)

Dr. Omnia El-Hakim has an established record of leadership in community service and academia.  Since January 2009, Dr. El-Hakim accepted an IPA (Intergovernmental Personnel Act) assignment at the National Science Foundation, becoming Director for Diversity and Outreach in the Directorate of Engineering.  Before NSF, she joined Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, in 1984 while holding a joint appointment as Professor of Civil Engineering at Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, where she also served as Department Chair of Physics and Engineering from 1996-1999. During this time, she learned about small business ownership firsthand by owning two motels. In addition, Dr. El- Hakim served as Assistant Dean for Diversity of the College of Engineering at Colorado State University from 2003-2006. Diversity is El-Hakim’s passion; she created and led a Colorado Consortium of 14 universities, community and four-year colleges, and tribal Nations as Principal Investigator and Director of the Colorado Alliance for Minority Participation (CO-AMP), as well as several other diversity programs for 20 years. She developed diversity programs to assist underrepresented minority students from K-12 to graduate schools. Dr. El-Hakim obtained her doctoral degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University (1984) after completing her undergraduate studies and receiving a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from Cairo University in Egypt.  El-hakim is the program director of the NSF BRIGE program (Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering) and GRDS (Graduate Research Diversity Supplements). Indicative of her passion of assisting women navigating STEM careers in academia, Dr. El-Hakim was selected by the NSF Director as one of the core members to create the Career Life Balance initiative. She received the NSF Director’s Equal Opportunity Achievement Award in 2010, as well as the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration in 2012. In her spare time, Omnia enjoys travelling, dancing, music, ballet, and opera.