University presents TEDxFIU

Master of Ceremonies, Alberto Padron, hosts the fourth annual TEDxFIU on Thursday, Nov. 5. Speakers like Todd Crowl, co-founder of the University's Sea Level Solutions Center and Rhett Williamson, a doctoral student in forensic chemistry, shared their stories.(Photo by: Camila Fernandez)

Written by: Camila Fernandez/News Director

People with autism do not live in their own world, they live in ours, said Patricia Kayser.

Kayser, a senior liberal arts major, talked about her purpose in life to help people with autism through music at the fourth annual TEDxFIU on Thursday, Nov. 5.

TEDxFIU is a self-organized event branded TEDx, which is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks.

Kayser and a group of six other women have served more than 250 families who cope with autism. Two years ago, she created a nonprofit organization called, “Autism and Music,” to enhance the quality of life for people with autism through music interaction.

Kayser was Inspired by her 15-year-old brother who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. She realized that music helped him to socialize more when she played with him the guitar.

“It’s like music unlocked something in him,” said Kayser. “It’s through him that I found my path in life.”

One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, a 30 percent increase from one in 88 two years ago, according to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy brings into effect changes in behavior and it facilitates development of skills.

“Music lets people with autism feel free. It gives them the opportunity to release stress and to interact and socialize with others,” Kayser said.


Todd Crawl, co-founder of the University’s Sea Level Solutions Center, also spoke at the event.

With about seven and half billion people living on Earth, the percent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than ever before, according to Crawl.

“And the really bad new is, it’s increasing faster than we’ve ever thought possible. The science is clear,” said Crawl.

Crawl is also the director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center, whose research focuses on aquatic ecology and urban stream ecology.

Crawl said that sea level would rise by five feet with an increase of .8 degree Celsius in global temperatures. This would significantly change the landscape of South Florida.

“We’re not sure if that’s 85 years or a 100 years or a 120 years, we’re collecting those data now and then in the next 10 or 20 years, we’ll have much better refined judgement to actually say when this will happen and how fast it will happen,” said Crawl.

He also said that the biggest problem now in South Florida is saltwater intrusion, which is the movement of saline water into freshwater aquifers. This can lead to contamination of drinking water sources.

According to Crawl, the Florida Everglades are responsible for maintaining freshwater; however, the Everglades is only half of its original size, before it was drained for urban development.

“We didn’t know that the Florida Everglades were responsible for our freshwater, and we definitely didn’t know that the seas were rising,” Crawl said.

Crawl presented different solutions to sea level rise.

He said that people need to look for alternative use of energy instead of fossil fuels, which account for about five percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Climate Consent Foundation.

“We have to accept the signs and data in front of us. We can use that to our advantage. We have to accept the challenge,” Crawl said.

Crawl also said that oil companies need to put in the same amount of resources and efforts that they used when they looked into deep sea oil exploration.

“They went far and fast. That’s the kind of thing we need,” he said. “We need oil companies to rename themselves energy companies.”

Crawl said that he feels a huge amount of hope that his grandson’s generation will not emit carbon dioxide and that it will use alternative fuel that has yet to be thought of.

“I want him to sit on the same beaches with his grandson like he and I do.”

Other speakers at the event included Nelson Hincapie, a University 2006 alumnus, who works with children in foster care. He is currently mentoring adolescents who have aged out of foster care and are making a transition to independent living.

Carolyn Runowicz, Academic Affairs executive associate dean and a gynecologic oncologist at the University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, talked about a breakthrough in removing cancer cells.

She and Sakhrat Khizroev, an electric and computer engineering professor, are using nanotechnology to selectively target cancer cells to possibly offer new and innovative treatment.

However, they have only been able to use the technology successfully on lab rats.

“We actually, in the real-time, can see, can monitor the process. We can see where the particles with the [nanotechnology] how they go inside the cancer cells,” said Khizroev.

They hope to impact ovarian cancer and eventually eradicate all cancer.

Images by Camila Fernandez

About the Author

Camila Fernandez
A FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communications Student - Began working with Student Media in 2013.

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