This page contains the list of speakers who will be participating in our industry panels and research flash talks. Check back in as we continue to add more speakers.
San Antonio Spurs
Currently in his 34th season with Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E), RC Buford was named CEO in 2019. In this role, he provides day-to-day alignment and long-term strategic vision for the 400-plus full-time and 1,000-plus part-time staff who comprise SS&E. The organization owns and operates the San Antonio Spurs, Austin Spurs (NBA G League), and San Antonio FC (USL Soccer), as well as manages the day-to-day operations of the Frost Bank Center, The Rock at La Cantera, Toyota Field, and STAR Complex.
The two-time NBA Executive of the Year leads the organization toward success and purpose. His shared vision with Dr. Andy Walshe in 2015 inspired The Rock at La Cantera a multi-phase $500 million legacy project that will have a transformative impact on the community and beyond. The complex will open in October 2023 and features a 22-acre park, the Victory Capital Performance Center, and Frost Plaza. The second phase of the project will feature a human performance research center and space for medical, hospitality, and office use.
Before being named CEO, RC was president of SS&E sports franchises from 2008-19, where he served as general manager of the Spurs while overseeing sports administration for the other teams in the SS&E family.
RC started his professional career as an assistant coach at the University of Kansas in 1984 after spending one season as a graduate assistant. During his five seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawks competed in the NCAA Tournament. Buford was on the coaching staff for the team that won the 1988 NCAA Championship.
He moved to the NBA in 1988 when he joined the Spurs as an assistant coach on Larry Brown’s staff, including assistant coaches Gregg Popovich, Alvin Gentry, and Ed Manning. He spent four seasons as an assistant with the Spurs, helping win back-to-back Midwest Division Titles in 1990 and 1991. RC then joined the Los Angeles Clippers for the 1992-93 campaign, as the first assistant for Coach Brown, before serving as an assistant coach with Lon Kruger at the University of Florida for their 1993-94 Final Four season.
Hired by Gregg Popovich, RC returned to San Antonio as the team’s head scout in 1994. Three years later, he was elevated to the Spurs director of scouting and was eventually promoted to vice president/assistant general manager in the summer of 1999. He was named general manager of the Spurs in 2002.
RC played basketball at Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State before receiving his degree from Friends University. He is actively involved in continuing education at Stanford, Harvard, and Duke business schools.
An active participant in Basketball Without Borders Africa, RC is an advisory board member for the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics (COLE) at Duke University. In addition, he has served on the board of directors of PeacePlayers International.
RC’s wife, Beth, is a former golfer on the LPGA Tour. Both are active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Their son, Chase, led the Sidney Kings to the 2022 and 2023 Australian National Basketball League Championship serving as head coach, and their daughter, C.C., is currently coaching women’s golf at UNC Charlotte.
RC and his wife adopted two children, Alexis Wangmene from Cameroon in 2004, and Samer Jasser from Israel in 2007. The Bufords met Alexis through a Basketball Without Borders program in Johannesburg and Samer through PeacePlayers International.
Head of Football Research & Standards
Nicolas is the Head of Football Research & Standards within FIFA’s Technical Innovation Department. In this role, he oversees the entire standards creation process from definition of needs, research design, and execution to implementation as global standards for football stakeholders. He leads a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, data scientists, and industry experts working with over 150 stakeholders daily.
Nicolas has championed the role of science in sport following two Master’s degrees in International Affairs and Governance from the University of St. Gallen and a summa cum laude degree in Finance & Strategy at the Institute d’Etudes Politique de Paris. Applying research methods and his understanding of institutional dynamics has been key to forging successful partnerships with industry, research, and football stakeholders to improve the game of football using data-driven decision-making processes.
Besides family, Nicolas’ hobbies include a variety of sports and long-distance running.
Executive General Manager of Performance
As the Executive General Manager - Performance at AusCycling, Jesse oversees the strategic direction, planning, and delivery of high-performance programs and services for Australian cycling athletes and teams across all disciplines in National Team, Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Game settings. He has been in this role since February 2022, after serving as the Interim Performance Director and the Director of Performance Pathways at the same organization.
With a PhD in Kinesiology and Health Science from York University, and a Master of International Sports Management from Johan Cruyff Institute, Jesse has a strong academic background and a deep understanding of the factors that influence human performance and health. He also has extensive experience and expertise in strategy, coaching, and developing elite performers and high performing teams. He has worked with professional sports organizations, national governing bodies, military special operating groups and academic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australia. He is passionate about unlocking human potential and advancing the frontiers of human capability through evidence-based, innovative, and collaborative approaches.
Global Performance Director
Peter is an experienced manager and director who has led high performance programs for the Swedish Golf Federation and the English Golf Union. Since leaving golf he has held various positions at the Swedish Sports Confederation, where he in his last role managed a joint project involving the Confederation, the Olympic Committee, and the Paralympic Committee. Peter joined the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in November 2023 as the Global Performance Director, where he provides strategic leadership to the Performance team that gives wiiings to the Red Bull athletes, teams, and projects. Through his career Peter has found many close allies in academia, where he holds a master’s degree from Uppsala University. Peter is a member of the board at the Mid Sweden University, and he has served many years on the board of the Swedish Sports Research Council.
Head of Research and Development
Arsenal Football Club
Dr Alan McCall (PhD, Msc) is currently the Head of Research and Development for Arsenal Football Club, scientific consultant for FC Barcelona and the Barça Innovation Hub as well as Co-Head of Research and Innovation for the Football Federation Australia. Alan is also a member of the FIFA Scientific Advisory Board, UEFA Football Research Group and Senior Associate Editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and Science and Medicine in Football journal. He has published >50 scientific articles and book chapters on performance, training, recovery, injury and decision-making in elite sports. His background is 10years as fitness coach/sport science working in elite football globally including the English, Scottish, French and Australian premier leagues, UEFA Champions and Europa leagues in addition to 2 FIFA World Cups with the Australia National team (1 senior team and 1 with the U20's).
Para High Performance Director
Ellen has dedicated more than three decades to the sport of rowing, having coached and led programs at the grassroots level, all the way to high performance teams. She founded Greater Lawrence Rowing in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts and later led the Girls Row Boston program to national prominence. She went on to serve in a leadership capacity at Community Rowing, Inc. in Brighton, MA, holding the titles of Director of Outreach and later Director of Inclusion and Advocacy.
Today, Ellen serves as USRowing’s first female Para High Performance Director, taking over the role in 2018 to lead the US Para National Team to a silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Prior to that, she was the Head Coach of the PR3 mixed four with coxswain for several years, consistently reaching the podium at the World Rowing Championships and Paralympic Games from 2014 to 2018.
From walk on at Villanova University to five-time National Team member and two-time World Champion, to her transition into coaching and program development, Ellen saw the long game: changing the status quo and creating opportunities at all levels for athletes to reach their true potential.
Vice President of Basketball Strategy
Tom Ryan is a Vice President of the Basketball Strategy group at the National Basketball Association. His role at the League Office is to manage the Technology and Innovation function, which focuses on advancing and growing the game through cutting-edge initiatives, products, and partnerships.
Previously at the NBA, Tom worked in the Global Strategy department and focused on evaluating and implementing various strategic and financial initiatives across the NBA, WNBA, and G-League, including developing strategies to drive organic and partnership-led growth in existing and new business lines.
Before joining the NBA, Tom worked in management consulting, investment management, and as the founder of a technology startup. Tom is a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate with a degree in Business Administration and Health Policy and Management.
Research Biomedical Engineer
Naval Health Research Center
Dr. Silder obtained her undergraduate degree in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University and her Master’s and Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Silder is a Research Engineer in the PhyCORE Lab at Naval Health Research Center as well as an Assistant Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Uniformed Services University. The primary focus of Dr. Silder’s research is in the areas of musculoskeletal injury and recovery, experimental design and data analysis, wearable sensors, and computer modeling of human movement. Dr. Silder’s research typically involves utilizing advanced technologies in other engineering or medical fields and applying them to better understand musculoskeletal injury and disease.
Manager, Innovation Management, Advanced Concepts
Anna Dixon is the Manager of Innovation at Arc'teryx Equipment, located in North Vancouver, B.C, Canada. Arc'teryx is a high-performance outdoor equipment company known for leading innovations in climbing, skiing and alpine technologies.
With 20+ years of global experience in Design, Product Development and Project Management, Anna has developed a broad knowledge of manufacturing, materials and construction techniques quality, and supply chain management. She holds a Master of Industrial Design from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Anna has also been teaching Industrial Design and Design Process at Emily Carr University in Vancouver and the Chalmers University in Sweden, and is a member of the DESIS Research Lab, as principal investigator on several government funded research product focusing on sustainable community engaging initiatives. She is an appreciated and inspiring creator, leader and facilitator of practical Design Thinking sessions for Industry executives, cross functional teams and Non-Profit organizations.
Brit (1961) and Alex (1949) ABS Career Development Professor in Engineering Design, MIT Mechanical Engineering
Prof. Faez Ahmed is the ABS career development assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, where he leads the Design Computation and Digital Engineering (DeCoDE) lab. His research focuses on creating new machine learning and optimization methods for designing complex engineering systems. Ahmed and his team are interested in fundamental questions at the intersection of machine learning and design, including how algorithms can synthesize high-performing designs that meet real-world requirements, how algorithms can help discover or generate creative designs that have never been seen before, and how machines can work together with people to create better products. Before joining MIT, Ahmed was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University and completed his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. He also gained industry experience in the railway and mining sectors in Australia, where he pioneered data-driven predictive maintenance and renewal planning efforts.
Lecturer, MIT Mechanical Engineering
Co-Founder & Managing Director, MIT Sports Lab
Christina Chase is a Lecturer at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 2015, she co-founded the MIT Sports Lab with Prof. Anette “Peko” Hosoi and serves as its Managing Director. Prior to this she was the first Entrepreneur in Residence at MIT through the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Christina has helped hundreds of teams go from concept to company. In 2013, she was named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in the Boston Tech Community and in 2014, Mashable named her one of the 15 People Shaping Boston’s Tech Scene. In a past life, Christina was a cyclist where she was one of 12 women selected by the US Cycling Federation to train at the US Olympic Training Center. She has taught downhill skiing in Colorado, summited six of Colorado’s 14-ers across seasons, and her latest sport is kiteboarding. Christina is a Techstars mentor and serves on the Board of the MIT Enterprise Forum, is a judge for the SXSW Accelerator Competition and former Advisory Board member.
Quanta Professor of Chinese Culture, MIT Music & Theater Arts
Claire Conceison is Quanta Professor of Chinese Culture and Professor of Theater Arts at MIT. She teaches courses on Chinese theater and society, Asian American theater, cross-cultural performance, global translation studies, and sport as performance. She is a scholar, a translator of plays from Chinese and French into English, and a stage director.
Conceison was the 2023 recipient of the Institute’s Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and received a Levitan Teaching Award from the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) in 2017. She is on the faculty advisory board of DAPER (Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation) and is faculty advisor of the MIT Football Team, Wuming Chinese Theater Club, and the China Development Initiative. She previously served on the Professional Sports Counseling Committee at Duke University and as the Faculty Athletic Associate for the Duke Women’s Soccer Team.
As a scholar, she has published three books about contemporary China (Significant Other: Staging the American in China, 2004; Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage During China’s Revolution and Reform, 2009; and I Love XXX and Other Plays by Meng Jinghui, 2017), as well as journal articles, play translations, and book chapters and introductions. Her latest publication is a new student edition of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and the chapter “Sport as Performance” in The Routledge Companion to Anthropology and Performance.
Anette (Peko) Hosoi
Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor, MIT Mechanical Engineering
Co-founder, MIT Sports Lab
Anette “Peko” Hosoi is a Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Mathematics. Her research contributions lie at the junction of nonlinear hydrodynamics, biomechanics, and bio-inspired design. A common theme in her work is the fundamental study of shape, kinematic, and rheological optimization of biological systems with applications to the emergent field of soft robotics. More recently, she has turned her attention to problems that lie intersection of biomechanics, applied mathematics, and sports. She is the co-founder of the MIT Sports Lab which connects the MIT community with pro-teams and industry partners to address data and engineering challenges that lie within the sports domain. She has received numerous awards including the APS Stanley Corrsin Award, the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Jacob P. Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, and a MacVicar Faculty Fellow.
John J. Leonard
Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering; Samuel C. Collins Professor, MIT Mechanical Engineering
John J. Leonard is Samuel C. Collins Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is also a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots and underwater vehicles. He holds the degrees of B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering and Science from the University of Pennsylvania (1987) and D.Phil. in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford (1994). He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award (1998) and the King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Transactions on Robotics Paper Award (2006). He is an IEEE Fellow (2014). Professor Leonard is also a Technical Advisor at Toyota Research Institute, where he has been working to improve vehicle safety using autonomous driving technologies.
Senior Lecturer, Managerial Communications, MIT Sloan School of Management
Ben Shields is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His work as a teacher, researcher, and practitioner focuses on digital transformation in the sports, media, and entertainment industries. He teaches a number of courses in the graduate programs at MIT Sloan. He created and teaches Creative Industries: Media, Entertainment, and the Arts; Social Media Management; and Sports Strategy and Analytics. He also teaches Communication for Leaders and co-teaches the Sloan Fellows Seminar on Leadership. In 2020, he received MIT’s Teaching with Digital Technology award. In 2022, he received the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching, MIT Sloan's most prestigious teaching award. Ben also teaches in the MIT Sloan Executive Education program. He is the Faculty Director of the Global Executive Academy, a two-week program focused on leadership that convenes executives from around the world. In addition, he developed and teaches the open enrollment program Data-Driven Teams: The Art and Science of Winning. He also teaches in two other open enrollment programs: Communication and Persuasion in the Digital Age and Maximizing Your Personal Productivity.
He is the author or coauthor of three books, Social Media Management: Persuasion in Networked Culture (Oxford University Press, 2016), The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High Performance Industry (Oxford University Press, 2015), and The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace (McGraw-Hill, 2006). He has also coauthored MIT Sloan case studies on Formula 1 and the National Women's Soccer League.
Prior to MIT Ben served as the Director of Social Media and Marketing at ESPN.
Associate Professor of Design Research, MIT Architecture
Co-director & Founder, MIT Self-Assembly Lab housed at the MIT Morningside Academy for Design
Skylar Tibbits is a co-director and founder of the Self-Assembly Lab housed at MIT’s Morningside Academy for Design. The Self-Assembly Lab focuses on self-assembly and programmable material technologies for novel manufacturing, products and construction processes.
Skylar is an Associate Professor of Design Research in the Department of Architecture where he teaches graduate and undergraduate design studios and coordinates MIT's Design Minor and Design Major programs. Skylar was recently named R&D Magazine's 2015 Innovator of the Year, 2015 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, 2014 Inaugural WIRED Fellow, 2014 Gifted Citizen, 2013 Fast Company Innovation by Design Award, 2013 Architectural League Prize, The Next Idea Award at Ars Electronica 2013, Visionary Innovation Award at the Manufacturing Leadership Summit, 2012 TED Senior Fellow and was named a Revolutionary Mind in SEED Magazine’s 2008 Design Issue.
Previously, he has worked at a number of renowned design offices including: Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture and Point b Design. He has designed and built large-scale installations at galleries around the world, has been published extensively in outlets such as the New York Times, Wired, Nature, Fast Company as well as various peer-reviewed journals and books.
Seung Kyun (SK) Ha
Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Chemical Engineering
SK is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Originally from South Korea, he holds a B.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering (with a minor in Physics) from Seoul National University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT. Alongside his current research on data-driven prediction of organic reaction outcomes, SK enjoys working on sports data analytics projects, including a recent project with the MIT Sports Lab on developing a mathematical model that describes the player dynamics during dribbles in soccer games. SK loves playing and watching sports, especially soccer.
Graduate Student, MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science & Brain and Cognitive Science
Emelie is a second-year MEng in Computation and Cognition. In the MIT Sports Lab, she works with Comfiknit to investigate textile and fiber design for athletic performance. Emelie’s thesis revolves around single-camera 3D Pose Estimation and the biomechanics of joint-tracking. Outside of MIT, Emelie is a member of Team USA where she is the coxswain for the Paralympic Rowing team and will compete in Paris 2024. She is using her research in artificial intelligence and materials to better analyze Para biomechanics and body temperature regulation. Previously, she worked on BMX Freestyle analytics and TinyML wearable devices.
Graduate Student, MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Yiyue Luo a final-year PhD student at MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Her research interests lie at the intersection of digital fabrication, human-computer/robot interaction, and applied machine learning. Sensing, and was recently selected as 30 under 30 North American 2024.
Graduate Student, MIT Mechanical Engineering
Eva is a second year graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She graduated from Stanford University in 2022 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. During undergrad, Eva was a member of the varsity rowing team. Now she does Computer Vision and Machine Learning research with the AusCycling BMX Freestyle team at the MIT Sports Lab. She is excited about other ways to incorporate AI to find meaningful takeaways from sports data, as well as the growing field of women's sports.
Graduate Student, MIT Mechanical Engineering
Jess is a second year Master’s Student in Mechanical Engineering at the MIT Sports lab. Completing her thesis with Adidas under the guidance of Prof. Peko Hosoi, Jess's research focuses on unveiling differences in men’s and women’s soccer. In her fourth year with the MIT Sports Lab, she has worked on user-interface design in shoe development with Adidas, analytics in baseball, ski goggles with SHRED., machine learning in soccer, and how to drive sustainable product development in the athletic industry. A lifelong athlete herself, Jess is driven to create innovative solutions to boost performance, prevent injuries, and enrich athletes’ experiences. She played for the MIT Women’s Varsity Soccer team and now enjoys skateboarding, dancing, and rugby.
Graduate Student, MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Henry is a 1st-year Social & Engineering Systems PhD student at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and a research assistant at the MIT Sports Lab. His research involves working with FIFA Football Research and Standards to leverage player & ball tracking technologies to improve and democratize access to auto-generated event data in football. Previously, he was worked on BMX Freestyle analytics, and has experience with skeletal tracking data in football, basketball, and baseball through internships at Hawk-Eye innovations. Henry swam at MIT and now enjoys running in his free time.
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