2015 Recap

Anne Verbiscer

Planetary Scientist, UVa Astronomy

Bernard Hankins

Poet, Teacher, Public Speaker

Bobby Parmar

Ethics Professor, Darden School UVA

Carmen Agra Deedy

Storyteller, Children’s Author

Dan Rosensweig

President/CEO Habitat for Humanity

Daniel Waples

Hang Drum Musician

Deborah Lawrence

Biogeochemist and Tropical Ecosystem Ecologist

Deirdre Enright

Director of Investigation, Innocence Project Clinic

Dia Draper

Educator, Coach and Consultant

Elliott Woods

Writer, Photographer

Geoff Luck

Filmmaker Executive Producer at National Geographic TV

HemoShear Therapeutics

Dr. Brian Wamhoff, Marshall Summar, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Physician, Scientist

Joel Salatin

Organic Farmer, Author

Dr. Leslie Blackhall

Head for Palliative Medicine, Associate Professor of Medicine at UVa

Maddie Waters

Freshman, Western Albemarle High School

Martese Johnson

4th Year Student at UVa, Media Studies, Italian Major

Dr. Neal Kassell, John Grisham

Focused Ultrasound


All Female A Cappella Group

Ocean Pleasant

Founding Editor-in-Chief of REAL, youth culture publication, Singer-Songwriter

The Ifs Within Us

UVa Drama

Victor Schiller

President, R Cubed Group

Anne Verbiscer is a research associate professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia.  As a child she watched the Apollo astronauts walk on the Moon and dreamed of what it would be like to explore planets that no one had ever seen before.  Now Verbiscer flies NASA’s robotic spacecraft over the icy moons of Saturn. Through the “eyes” of missions, such as Cassini and New Horizons, her work as a planetary scientist leads her to wonder what it would be like to ice skate on the frozen plains of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, or even Pluto.

Bernard Hankins is inspiration trapped inside of a human body.  Sometimes that inspiration takes the shape of musician, filmmaker, spoken word poet, creative catalyst, or entrepreneur.  Hankins grew up in Chesapeake, VA, and then attended The School of Architecture at The University of  Virginia where he used his Hip Hop skills to inform his design projects. Throughout the years, Hankins has taught many workshops to adults and children ranging from Hip Hop,  poetry, creativity, identity and more. Currently Hankins is a co-founder of Cypher, an idea generation and branding consulting venture that uses the power of Hip Hop and word play to help companies generate brand names.

Bidhan ("Bobby") Parmar is an assistant professor of business administration at the UVa Darden School.  Parmar's research interests focus on how managers make decisions and collaborate in uncertain and changing environments to create value for stakeholders. In addition to teaching MBA’s, Parmar regularly works on a wide array of strategic and organizational issues with executives and managers from Fortune 500 companies. He has spoken on business ethics to a variety of professional groups.  Parmar is a fellow at the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics, the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, and the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Carmen Agra Deedy has been writing for children for over two decades. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1964. She grew up in Decatur, Georgia, where she lives today. Deedy began writing as a young mother and storyteller whose NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban In Decatur, Georgia. The pithy collection of twelve stories soon garnered awards, among them a 1995 Publishers Weekly Best Audio (Adult Storytelling) and a 1996 Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her children’s books have won numerous awards. Deedy has spent the past twenty years writing and telling stories. She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University, The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival, and the Kennedy Center. An ardent supporter of libraries, she was the 2008 National Spokesperson for School Library Media Month (AASL). She has spoken before Noble Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, CEOs of major corporations, and heads of state. Over a span of twenty years, Deedy has told stories to hundreds of thousands of school children. They remain her favorite audiences.


Since February 2009, Dan Rosensweig has served as the director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. In 2011, he spearheaded the affiliate’s completion of Sunrise, the first trailer park transformation in the nation without resident displacement.  Under Rosensweig’s leadership, the affiliate is committed to building mixed-income, generationally and demographically diverse communities to counteract community isolation. He currently serves as Chairman of the Charlottesville Planning Commission, is on the City’s Housing Advisory Committee and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program.  Rosensweig earned a BA from the University of Texas, an MA from Georgetown University, and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia.

Now with over 30 million views on YouTube, Daniel Waples has recorded 10 albums to date and performed in almost 50 countries across 6 continents. Waples supports himself as an independent musician, spreading the gospel of the HandPan, an acoustic musical instrument associated with energy work and alternative healing, and one which he hopes will become a symbol for universal peace and the inner journeys all people take pursuing their individual paths. He is currently working very closely alongside the makers of the instruments that he plays.

Deborah Lawrence, a biogeochemist and tropical ecosystem ecologist, is a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the effects of tropical deforestation on carbon and nutrient cycling and climate. She has spent over 25 years conducting field work in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cameroon. In 2014, Lawrence was awarded a Global Program of Distinction grant by the Provost at UVA for an interdisciplinary project called ‘Food, Fuel and Forests.’ Through this work, she seeks to understand how the decisions we make about the land surface affect climate.


Deirdre Enright is director of investigation for the UVa Law School's Innocence Project Clinic. Enright previously worked at the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, where she represented clients and consulted on cases in all stages of capital litigation, with primary focus on federal and state post-conviction proceedings and Supreme Court certiorari review. After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1992, Enright worked as a staff attorney at the Mississippi Capital Defense Resource Center.


Dia Draper is often described as a “warm spirit” with a gift for inspiring others to live with joy and intention. Her ability to help others laugh at life’s absurd twists causes those who cross her path to stop and take notice. Her curiosity for the human experience has led her around the world as an educator, coach and consultant. She delights in asking her favorite question: “What’s your life about?” and helping people discover the answer.

Draper is a two-time graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School, where she developed a passion for the intersection of leadership, business and education, work that she is fortunate to pursue at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Here Draper brings her strategic and creative insight and infectious energy to catalyze meaningful institutional change.

Elliott Woods is a writer and photographer based in Bozeman, Montana. He is an Iraq veteran, and has covered the Middle East and Afghanistan extensively as a journalist. Woods’ work has received numerous honors, including the 2011 National Magazine Award for Multimedia. Woods is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a contributing editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Geoff Luck is a filmmaker who has produced, directed, shot or edited more than a hundred programs for National Geographic over the past decade. His award-winning work on nature, science and culture has also been featured on PBS, Discovery, The Sundance Channel, Showtime, and showcased at the Museum of Modern Art. Luck holds degrees in filmmaking from Harvard University and the San Francisco Art Institute and currently lives in Amsterdam with his wife and two daughters.



HemoShear Therapeutics is a biotechnology company with a transformational platform for modeling human diseases to develop drugs for which there are no cures. Dr. Brian Wamhoff serves as Head of R&D and leads strategic drug development initiatives in rare metabolic disorders for HemoShear Therapeutics. Prior to joining the company full-time, he was an associate professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of Medicine, with a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering where he was funded by the NIH, the pharmaceutical industry, and the American Heart Association for research in vascular disease. Dr. Wamhoff is the recipient of the 2004 and 2008 American Physiological Society Cardiovascular Investigator Award and the 2008 American Heart Association Irvine H. Page Award.  Dr. Wamhoff is a successful entrepreneur, having started two medical device companies. Dr. Wamhoff obtained a BS in biology with a minor in business administration from Rhodes College, where he was the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus, and received his Ph.D. in medical physiology from the University of Missouri.

HemoShear Therapeutics and Children's National Medical Center have partnered to address unmet needs for drug therapies in pediatric patients with rare metabolic disorders. These children are often diagnosed with an autosomal recessive genetic disorder at birth and do not survive into young adulthood. This partnership is enabling new opportunities for understanding human disease and a transformational approach to drug discovery to treat such patients unattainable until now.

Marshall L. Summar, M.D. - Chief of the Division of Genetics and Genetic Specialist Metabolism and the Margaret O’Malley Chair of Molecular Genetics - Dr. Summar is well-known for his pioneering work in caring for children diagnosed with rare diseases. He joined Children’s National in 2010 from Vanderbilt University. At Children’s National he leads the Division of Genetics and Metabolism, currently the largest clinical division in the world seeing over 7500 patients a year with rare diseases. He also directs the Clinical Research Center and is Vice-Chair of Special Projects. Dr. Summar’s laboratory works on both devices and treatments for patients with genetic diseases and adapting knowledge from rare diseases to mainstream medicine. His work has resulted in new drugs in FDA trials for patients with congenital heart disease and premature birth. He has over 30 patents and patent applications. His laboratory is best known for its work in the rare diseases affecting nitrogen and ammonia metabolism.


Jeffrey Lieberman has devoted his life to the study and treatment of mental illness. He has passionately advocated for more research and better treatment of people with mental illness, while contributing to mental health care policy and legislation including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Dr. Lieberman is Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Columbia University, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and past President of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Lieberman has authored over 500 scientific articles and written or edited 12 books on mental illness and psychiatry, including the critically acclaimed Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry (Little Brown 2015).

Joel Salatin is a third generation beyond organic farmer and author whose family owns and operates Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.  The farm produces salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, forage-based rabbits and direct markets everything to 5,000 families, 50 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets. A prolific author, Salatin's nine books to date include both how-to and big picture themes.  The farm features prominently in Michael Pollan's NYT bestseller Omnivore's Dilemma and the award-winning documentary, Food Inc.

Dr. Blackhall has had a career-long focus on the care of patients with life-limiting illnesses, starting in her residency when she published a ground-breaking paper on medical futility in the New England Journal of Medicine. Since then, her mission has been to promote the understanding of end of life as a developmental stage and part of the continuum of care for all patients, and to transform medical education and health care systems to ensure patients in this stage of life receive compassionate, mindful, interprofessional and clinically excellent care. She was a program leader for a 2012 CMS Innovation Award, which integrates patient-reported outcomes into the electronic medical record as a guide to improving the quality of life, care coordination and end-of-life care planning for patients with incurable malignancies. She is the winner of the 2015 American Cancer Society Lane Adams Quality of Life Award for her work with cancer patients.

 During her time as Section Head, Dr. Blackhall has rapidly expanded services allowing the UVa Palliative Care Service to provide care to patients with life-limiting illnesses across the continuum of care from inpatient, to out-patient and home hospice. She is the thread leader for palliative and end-of-life care curriculum at the School of Medicine, and works with colleagues in the UVA School of Nursing to help teach collaborative skills in caring for patients with life limiting illnesses to medical and nursing students.  Her research interests have included topics in bioethics, cultural diversity in attitudes towards end of life care, symptom management, and advance care planning.


Maddie Waters, 14, is in her freshman year at Western Albemarle High School. Much of her time is spent doing homework, losing homework, avoiding homework, stressing about homework, forgetting homework, and giving up on homework. Outside of her school life, she enjoys writing, reading, painting, listening to loud music, and wasting time, and does not enjoy being dehydrated, uncomfortable situations, or people who actively use the term “meninism.” Waters is vaguely pretentious, especially in her writing, and tries her best to use unnecessarily large words to make herself sound sophisticated and adult, when, in reality, she is just very, very tired. Waters currently lives in the same house that she has lived in for her entire life with her parents, her brother, their beagle (Belle) and their cat (Cat – original, isn’t it?).

Martese Johnson is a South Side, Chicago native and will be the first in his family to graduate from a four-year university. In his third year of college at UVA, Johnson's physical encounter with Alcoholic Beverage Control officers near his campus, images of which were shared widely through social media, drew international attention. Since state investigators dropped the charges against him, Johnson has spent much of his time advocating for minorities who experience police brutality and various other forms of social injustice. He has also developed a passion for speaking with peers and community members in hopes of cultivating social awareness and inspiring progressive change.


Dr. Neal Kassell and John Grisham will be giving a collaborative talk about Focused Ultrasound- an early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology that could transform the treatment of many medical disorders by serving as an alternative to surgery and radiation.  Dr. Kassell runs the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, which supports education and research to accelerate the development of this ground-breaking technology.  Mr. Grisham serves on the board of the foundation and has recently written a story about focused ultrasound.

Kassell is the founder and chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Virginia. He was a founder of Interax, Inc., the Virginia Neurological Institute, Multimedia Medical Systems, Inc., the Neuroclinical Trials Center, the NeuroVenture Fund, MedSpecialists.net, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. He has served on a number of public and private sector boards, including Eclypsis Corporation, INC Research, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Virginia National Bank, InSightec, Inc., and The Lagesse Foundation, and currently serves as a director of the Charlottesville Tuesday Evening Concert Series, Expedition Trust Company, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. He is a shareholder of Insightec, Inc., and Expedition Trust Company.

Grisham is an internationally acclaimed author whose works include several No. 1 best sellers. Nine of his books have been made into successful motion pictures. Prior to his career as a writer, he practiced law for nearly 10 years, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. He served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 until 1990. Mr. Grisham serves on the Board of Directors for the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Innocence Project and was closely involved with establishing the “Rebuild the Coast” Fund for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Grisham received his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and his JD from the University of Mississippi School of Law.


A sisterhood bound by a love for music and lifelong friendship, Note-oriety is James Madison University's premiere all female a cappella group founded in 1998. You can find the lovely ladies of Note-oriety performing all around the JMU campus and at various events up and down the east coast.

She works to inspire our next generation while interviewing outstanding organizations and individuals, including His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Alicia Keys. She is the Assistant Editor of ORIGIN MagazineMantra Yoga + Health and Thrive, and was Creative Director of ORIGIN at 14, when she dropped out of school to pursue journalism. Since being a founding member of all four magazines, each rank within Top 10 Best-Selling in Whole Foods Market + 15 other national stores. She was awarded the prestigious 2015 Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant by Peter Thiel (Cofounder, PayPal) to pursue her entrepreneurial endeavors, including her latest project, a "Platonic Tinder for Social Activism" that will align like minded millennials with volunteer opportunities. Ocean engages in humanitarian pursuits from New Delhi to Nairobi, and is a Singer-Songwriter; she recently released of her first single and music video, "Love Letter to Myself (I Will Love)." 


“The Ifs Within Us” are an ensemble of artists within the UVa Community who unite poetry, dance, theatre, digital media, music, and spoken word performance as they explore the “What If…” question through dynamic storytelling.

Devisers and Performers: Ava Chen, Braelyn Schenk, Davion Williams, DJ Cunningham, Imani Bruno, Kingston Liu, Mackenzie Austin, Mariana Gonzalez-Leal, Maurice Green, Nan Macmillan, Nikki Parker, Lauren Thomas, Semora Ward, Terrance Thomas, William Brewbaker and Yvonne Fox.

Production Team: Andrew Burrill, Chelsea Dickens, Cherise Pack, Jasmine Willis, Theresa M. Davis, Artistic Director and Special Collaborator, Media Artist and Educator Dr. Mona Kasra.

 “What if we could change everything, just by having the courage to ask “What If?” –Krissy Venosdale


Victor Schiller began his entrepreneurial career in the 1980s and has spent the last three decades building and selling several technology related companies. He holds five technology patents and is now involved with R Cubed Group, a holding company focusing on business and technology innovation. Schiller serves on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) IDEAS Global Challenge Advisory Board. MIT IDEAS supports innovation and entrepreneurship as public service by connecting students with the passion and talent to improve the world with the experience and resources of the MIT community worldwide. Schiller also lectures, mentors and serves on an advisory board for the Charlottesville Community Investment Collaborative.