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Microbiology in the News

Lloyd Delivers TED Talk

Lloyd Delivers TED Talk

Last fall, Karen Lloyd, assistant professor of microbiology, gave a TED Talk in Milan, Italy, about how far you can go into the Earth’s surface and still find living beings. Now, her talk is available for viewing online.

“Writing a TED-style talk was way harder than giving a ‘normal’ research lecture,” Lloyd says. “I probably went through 20 complete rewrites before getting to the final version.” 

In her presentation, Lloyd talks about the vast microbial community living at the bottom of the ocean. She shares information about her current research and throws in a couple of interesting facts for the audience. For example, she talks about how the strange organisms she tries to grow in petri dishes in her lab are evolutionarily related to all of us, yet are also new branches on the tree of life we never knew about before.  

Lloyd’s experience presenting her research at the UT Mic/Night gave her a practice run for talking to a broad audience, but she never imagined she would need to memorize every word of a presentation.  

“After a disastrous rehearsal the day before my talk, I went back to my hotel room, stood on the bed, and flipped the desk light up to shine into my eyes,” Lloyd says. “I gave the full talk over and over and over on my bed-stage until it was hard wired.” 

Her work paid off and now, her research about the world of microbes at the bottom of the ocean is part of the growing library of TED talks.  

“People who give TED talks are just normal people who feel like they have something helpful to say to the world and are willing to put in the time and effort to do it,” Lloyd says. “I bet every single person could make an amazing TED talk about something that’s important to them.” 

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) began as a conference in 1984. The media organization’s early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins, but it has broadened its focus to include talks on scientific, cultural, and academic topics. Presentations are posted online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” 

Professor Lloyd would like to give credit to the TED team (especially David Biello), the UT Department of Microbiology, and St. James Episcopal Church. She also thanks “my friends, my family, and a nice guy I met on a plane for listening to me practice and helping me craft this talk. It truly took a village!”

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