TEDxUniversityofNevada has become much more than just a Reno thing.

Having reached more than 42 million video views worldwide, the annual conference has gained national attention for its meaningful topics, insightful lectures and talent-filled performances. For 2019, TEDxUNR sold all of the available 1,500 tickets. The Reno-Sparks Convention Center was packed by the time the event started on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Of the 22 participating speakers, three were musicians, one was a comedian and 18 were lecturers from the local community or around the country. The morning began with a few brief words from President Marc Johnson, Mayor Hillary Schieve and spokesperson Bret Simmons, followed by announcements about the day’s proceedings from three MCs. Presenters spoke about a variety of topics from gender transition to virtual reality to learning empathy through hostage negotiation and more.

The first presenter, Nilofer Merchant, discussed the premise of great ideas, and how many people with great ideas are never heard due to marginalization. Following Merchant was Michelle Rebaleati, a staff member at the Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, who’s been working with virtual reality technology to make learning more accessible. According to Rebaleati, VR not only allows people to virtually interact with inaccessible objects or artifacts, but it can also archive moments in time.

Someone holds up an X in front of the camera, while the stage at TEDx is blurred in the background.

Photo courtesy of TEDxUNR. An “X” is held up to the camera, with the TEDxUNR stage in the background on Saturday, Feb. 23. This year’s TEDxUNR event was completely sold out, and featured 18 presenters, four musicians and one comedian.

After Rebaleati, Jenna Weiner took the stage to discuss gendered sports, and why mixed-gender sports would be more beneficial. As a transgender woman, Weiner explained how often she experienced discrimination based on the fact she was born with a penis. People frequently assumed she would have an advantage over cisgendered women in her professional frisbee league, even though her hormone therapy made this untrue.

The rest of the first session included Tandy Aye, who argued why transgender children receiving gender affirmation therapy should be able to receive reassignment surgery earlier than the designated age of 18, and Mena Spodobalski, who is a female body-building trainer and trains breasts cancer patients in a program called “Breast Cancer to Bikini”. Tony Slonim with Healthy NV Project was next, and the first session closed with a musical performance from Sarah Rogo.

The second session opened back up with another musical performance, this time by sister duo Larkin Poe. After, Chris Voss walked onstage to talk about his experiences as a hostage negotiator for the FBI and what it taught him about empathy. Following Voss was John Petrocelli, who gave a riveting lecture on “bullsh*t” and how to detect it from others, or even yourself.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic came next, discussing the phenomena of men reaching high positions of power even though they’re less competent than women, and what the world can do to encourage women while elevating their standards for male leaders. Next was Mitch Prinstein, who lectured on how likability in high school relates to success later in life. Then, Elizabeth Austin, a forensic meteorologist, took the stage to provide information on how meteorology can help decipher crimes and prevent life-threatening accidents.

The last presenter for the second session was Larry Olmsted, a food junkie and journalist who shared how we often pay more for food but get less. One of Olmsted’s examples was oranges versus orange juice. Although orange juice costs more than oranges, he explained, orange juice is mainly made up of ingredients like sugar, which take away what makes oranges so good for our bodies.

Finally, the last session included several insightful presentations and a closing comedy act by comedian Anjelah Johnson. Presenters included Cynthia Albright, who explained the importance of street rhythm and well-designed streets, Thomas Wright, who talked about character development, Erica Greve, a founder of Unlikely Heroes, which rescues children from sex trafficking, and Mark Anderson, who disputed common misconceptions about technological innovation solely being for younger generations.

The penultimate presenter for the third session, Graham Kent, showed the audience new technology that would help detect wildfires and reduce response times from emergency crews. Finally, professional skier and two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise gave a thoughtful presentation on how to let go of winning and accept failure as a part of life. The closer for TEDxUNR, Anjelah Johnson, was met with a standing ovation after her hilarious performance.

For more information on the event and speakers, visit https://tedxuniversityofnevada.org/.