Clay Routledge, PhD

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Clay Routledge is an author, behavioral scientist, consultant, public speaker, and professor. He studies basic psychological motives and cognitive processes and how these motives processes influence wellbeing, physical health, cultural belief systems, and intergroup relations. He has published over 90 scholarly papers, co-edited two books on existential psychology, and authored the book Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource. He was also the lead writer for the TED-Ed animated lesson Why Do We Feel Nostalgia? His new book Supernatural: Death, Meaning and the Power of the Invisible World will be released in 2018. Dr. Routledge’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, John Templeton Foundation, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. You can find out more about Dr. Clay Routledge at clayroutledge.com.

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin is an author and public speaker covering science, health, medicine, agriculture, food, parenting and their intersection. She is a proud Science Mom, and is featured in the new documentary (sciencemomsdoc.com) about moms seeking to raise their children with facts rather than the fear and hype so common in the parenting world today.

Hector Avalos

Dr. Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, where he was named Professor of the Year in 1996, and a Master Teacher in 2003-04. A former fundamentalist preacher and faith healer, Dr. Avalos is now one of the few openly atheist biblical scholars in academia. Born in Mexico, Avalos received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1982, and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1985. In 1991, he became the first Mexican American to earn a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Studies at Harvard. He is the author or editor of ten books, including The End of Biblical Studies (2007). His most recent is The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (2015).

Christopher S. Rogan

Dr. Chris Rogan is an Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Kansas. He earned his B.A. from Princeton University and Ph.D. from Caltech. He served as a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, focusing on research using the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC). His work with the LHC used the events recorded by particle detectors to look for evidence of new physics, beyond the particles and forces included in the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. His research looks for new, undiscovered particles, forces, and symmetries which are detectable at the energy scales only accessible to the LHC, including the identity of Dark Matter, the huge differences in the strengths of fundamental forces and sub-atomic particle masses, and the matter/antimatter asymmetry that characterizes our physical world.

K. Christopher Beard

Dr. Beard is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and KU. His research focuses on reconstructing the origin and early evolution of the order Primates and its major clades. He is especially interested in documenting how changes in the Earth’s physical environment have impacted the evolution of early primates and other mammals.

Paul Mirecki

Paul Mirecki joined the University of Kansas in 1989. He earned his Th.D. at Harvard Divinity School in the field of Christian origins. His research and teaching focus on religion in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. He has edited Greek and Coptic manuscripts in museums in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Berlin, London and Oxford focusing on scribalism and ritual. He has edited and co-authored seven scholarly books and numerous articles. He has traveled extensively throughout Greece studying religious archeological sites with a focus on Samothrace island. For several years Paul was the faculty adviser for the student group KUSOMA – Kansas University Society of Open-minded Atheists and Agnostics.

Paulyn CartWright

Dr. Paulyn Cartwright is an Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas. Her research focuses on understanding evolutionary patterns and developmental processes in medusozoans.

Sarah Haider

Sarah is an American writer, speaker, and activist. Born in Pakistan and raised in Texas, Sarah spent her early youth as a practicing Shia Muslim. In her late-teens, she began to read the Quran critically and left religion soon after.

In 2013, she co-founded Ex-Muslims of North America, where she advocates for the acceptance of religious dissent and works to create local support communities for those who have left Islam.

In addition to atheism, Sarah is particularly passionate about civil liberties and women’s rights.

Armin Navabi

Armin Navabi is a former Muslim from Iran and the founder of the Atheist Republic (a non-profit organization dedicated to offering a safe community for atheists around the world) and the author of the bestselling book “Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God”.. Armin was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran and was indoctrinated thoroughly in the Muslim tradition. After almost losing his life in the pursuit of God’s grace, the devastation of that event motivated him to seek a better understanding of the nature and concept of God and religious belief. Armin’s journey led him to leave Islam and to become an atheist.

Ghada Le Doux

Ghada is a Saudi national that grew up in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Her family is a fundamentalist Shia muslim family. Ghada was a practicing Muslim until researching women’s role in Islam and reading on theology and jurisprudence. She left Islam in 2011, while studying engineering in the United States.

Abigail Barefoot

Abigail Barefoot is a doctoral student in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. Her research explores the role of affect in constructing frameworks of harm, justice, and healing within activist communities. As both a cisgender scholar and an activist, Abigail works to  promote trans* inclusion within the field of Women’s Studies and beyond.