SharkFinder & Paleo Quest Founders to Speak at X-STEM Symposium

Aaron Alford and Jason Osborne to Speak at 1st Ever X-STEM Symposium, a “TED- Style” Event that Kicks-Off the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo at DC Convention Center

Aaron Alford and Jason Osborne, Co-Founders of the non-profit Paleo Quest and Co–Founders of the citizen science program SharkFinder are featured speakers during the first ever X-STEM: Extreme STEM Symposium—presented by Northrop Grumman Foundation and MedImmune. The symposium kicks-off the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo and Book Fair, hosted by founding and presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin. Being held on April 24th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC, X-STEM is a “TED-style” event for kids with talks by 50 of the nation's most noted science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals representing top universities, corporations, non-profits, and governmental agencies.

“X-STEM is the perfect start for the Festival as we work to spark kids’ interest in STEM careers. Opening students’ minds to all the possibilities that science creates is critical to ensuring our nation’s progress,” explained Larry Bock, Festival co-founder.

Geared towards middle and high-school students, X-STEM features interactive presentations and workshops by an exclusive group of visionaries who aim to empower and inspire kids about STEM careers. Throughout the day, top STEM role models and industry leaders will ignite students’ curiosity through storytelling and live demonstrations. Sessions will cover a wide array of subject areas including space exploration, storm chasing, oceanography, the science of social networks, the physics of superheroes, mathematical puzzles and more.

Aaron and Jason’s X-STEM presentation and workshops will include topics such as high energy scuba diving in black water swamp rivers along the Atlantic Coastal Plain in search for prehistoric marine life, and hands-on citizen science where participants can be a scientist and discover microfossil specimens from marine sediments dating 19 million years old.

In addition to Aaron Alford PhD and Jason Osborne, here is a sampling of scheduled X- STEM speakers and their topics:

  • Jack Andraka – This Baltimore high school student developed a diagnostic test that detects pancreatic cancer more accurately, quicker and cheaper than existing tests.
  • Anousheh Ansari – She made headlines as the first female private space explorer and astronaut of Iranian descent. Now she is helping drive space industry commercialization.
  • Blake Bullock – This exciting, plain-speaking astrophysicist from Northrop Grumman will discuss the next-generation telescope being developed to replace Hubble.
  • Francis Collins, Ph.D. – He’s known for his landmark discoveries in genetics and for leading the Human Genome Project. He now heads the National Institutes of Health.
  • Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. – This legendary oceanographer has been dubbed “Her Deepness” by the New York Times and a “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine.
  • David Gallo, Ph.D. – Find out what life is like deep below the ocean from this renowned oceanographer (who co-led the Titanic exploration).
  • Bernard Harris, M.D. – This physician and entrepreneur was a NASA astronaut and the first African American to walk in space.
  • Nan Hauser, Ph.D. – Profiled on 60 Minutes, this scientist-conservationist’s work in the remote tropical region of the Cook Islands may help save the endangered humpback whale!
  • John Holdren, Ph.D. –Gain perspective from this noted aeronautics and plasma physics researcher who is President Obama’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • Barrington Irving – He made history in 2007 by becoming the youngest person and the first African American to pilot a plane solo around the world.
  • Laura Richman, DVM, Ph.D. – This MedImmune veterinarian scientist and molecular virologist launched her career by identifying a mysterious virus that was killing elephants.
  • Michael Shermer, Ph.D. – Author and Skeptic Magazine publisher says human’s tendency to believe strange things boils down to the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills.
  • J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. – The scientist who led the first sequencing of the human genome has plenty to say about the future of DNA research discovery.
  • James West, Ph.D. – An acoustical scientist world-known for his invention of the foil electret microphone.
  • Josh Wurman, Ph.D. – Discover first-hand from this original storm chaser what it is like to track and study deadly tornadoes.

    X-STEM runs from 9am-5pm and has a nominal cost of $15 per person for students and educators and $25 for others. Space is limited to the first 3,000 registrants. Schools and individuals interested in attending should sign up at: registration-form.html.

    The symposium is part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, which culminates with the Festival Expo on April 26-27 from 9am-6pm. The Festival Expo is a free, family-friendly event with more than 3,000 hands-on activities and 100 live stage performances. Taking over the entire convention center, the Festival Expo will also have a Career Pavilion, Book Fair— complete with signings by well-known science authors, and multiple workshops and competitions such as EPA P3’s sustainability challenge, making it the Super Bowl of STEM. In all, the Festival expects more than 250,000 people to participate.

    Founded by serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and Lockheed Martin CTO Ray O Johnson to address the severe shortage in science and tech talent, the USA Science & Engineering Festival is the nation’s largest science festival. To learn more, visit or watch the video at