Illuminating, life-changing, shockingly talented: Fellows on their Fellowship experience and each other.

Wondering why you should apply to be a TED Fellow? Get an insider’s view with MyFellowsStory. Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday we’ll feature three Fellows a day that will tell you what the program has done for them, the lasting relationships they’ve formed and those serendipitous moments that make all the difference.

MyFellowsStory :: Juliana Rotich


African Tech EntrepreneurTED2010 Senior Fellow
Nairobi, Kenya
Learn more about Juliana’s work here.



Ushahidi working with the tech community


Describe your work in 6 words (or less):

Describe one relationship you’ve made because of the Fellows program:
Erik Hersman is not only a long time friend but a collaborator on everything from Ushahidi to BRCK and iHub. He is not only passionate about tech in Africa, but has a knack of bringing the most interesting people together to work on a common goal. I am always learning something new and he is way more patient than Iam so it is a very complementary working relationship.

How is your life different today because of the program?:
My life significantly changed, I no longer feel existentially alone working in a non-linear track of tech.

Describe the program in three words:
Fantastic, fun, illuminating

Most surreal TED conference moment?:
Meeting John Hodgman years ago and talking about twitter apps. Yes, I did ask whether he used a Mac or PC -innocently so, till I realized he could see that as a lame reference to his Mac Vs PC ads. He was super cool.

Why would you recommend the program?:
It opens up your world to other amazing Fellows who will become your friends, your supporters, your inspiration. The TED Community is giving, open and loving. Yes. Loving. You will find people who will inspire you to change the world and in the face of pessimism, encourage you to continue to excel at solving the hard problems.

Application tip?:
Be your awesome self. Express your unique idea and work. Do not be afraid of the weird part of you, the bit that is non-conforming… do not leave that out of your application.

MyFellowsStory :: Jane Chen


Infant health entrepreneur
TED2012 Senior Fellow
Learn more about Jane’s work here.



Embrace baby warmers offer a low cost alternative to traditional incubators, making them more accessible in the developing world – saving thousands of infants.

Describe your work in 6 words (or less):
Developing disruptive medical technologies for emerging markets

Describe one relationship you’ve made because of the Fellows program:
I met one of my greatest mentors/friends at TED Long Beach. We happened to sit next to each other at a dinner, and post TED, she came out to India to help with my work at Embrace.  She’s been an amazing mentor and friend to me ever since!

How is your life different today because of the program?:
I have a new group of amazing friends, mentors and supporters thanks to the TED program!

Describe the program in three words:
Amazingly-fun, helpful, life-changing =)

Most surreal TED conference moment?:
For months, I was hoping to meet someone who was familiar with distributing new medical technologies in India.  The closest person I could think of was the person at GE Healthcare who launched their low cost ultrasound machines over 20 years ago — the only catch was, I had no idea who this person was.  Lo and behold at a cocktail event one night, guess who I stand next to for a drink?  The guy who launched GE’s ultrasound machines in India.  He’s become an advisor and friend ever since.

Why would you recommend the program?:
The program gives you a platform not only to meet some incredible people through the conferences, but to meet the other amazing Fellows, through which there is an awesome exchange of ideas and collaboration opportunities.  These people will truly blow your mind!  The TED Fellows team is also incredibly supportive in helping you advance your work, and the program offers coaching and mentorship opportunities.  This is the most humble group of badass people you’ll ever meet (both the other Fellows and the TED Fellows team).  Going to the conferences is just the icing on the cake.

Application tip?:
Think about how the fellowship can best help you, not just with regards to the conference, but to all the other amazing things it offer– and think about what you can contribute to the community!

MyFellowsStory :: Max Little


Applied mathematician
TEDGlobal 2012
Parkison’s Voice Initiative
MIT, University of Oxford
Learn more about Max’s work here.


PVI collected 10,000 voices. Today, their analyzing that data and will soon post the results to their website:

Describe your work in 6 words (or less):

Maths, stats and machine learning.

Describe one relationship you’ve made because of the Fellows program:
Greg Gage is a brilliant tinkerer and neuroscientist, he’s also a TED
Fellow. I was working on some machine learning algorithms, searching
through some work on spike detection, and I read this great
neuroscience journal article on this topic. Turns out, Greg was the
second author! So, he was able to come up with some fantastic data for
my paper which would have been extremely hard to come by otherwise.

How is your life different today because of the program?:
The right people know about my research work, and it is so much easier
to make introductions because of that.

Describe the program in three words:
Shockingly talented Fellows.

Most surreal TED conference moment?:
As I was about to give my talk on stage at TED Global 2012, my wife
called me to tell me she was about to go into labor! It was hard to
concentrate after that, but I think I pulled it together reasonably
well on stage, go watch the TED talk and judge for yourself!

Why would you recommend the program?:
One of the great things about the Fellows program is that you can draw
on an wide range of extraordinary talents in the other Fellows and TED
Team. It’s the TED-effect: it suspends the rules of the normal world
so that amazing things can happen, and as a TED Fellow, you get to be
a direct recipient of that. I promise it will change your life for the

Application tip?:
Be yourself: tell the team about those cool, quirky little details
that set you apart from everyone else, you got to make it easy for
them to spot you among the 1000′s who apply every year.