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Speaker Sessions

In the morning at IdeaFestival Bowling Green, you will listen to speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines as they talk about the big ideas that enabled then to pursue their passions and be innovators in their fields. Participants will also have the chance to ask questions.

Our line-up for IdeaFestival Bowling Green 2019: The Future Is Now on February 13, includes the following (click on speaker's name for more information):


Robert Bowden III, founder and CEO of Spartan 4x4.
Robert BowdenOriginally from Atlanta, Robert Bowden III is a sophomore at WKU studying entrepreneurship. In 2015 he founded Spartan 4x4, a Bowling Green company involved in many areas of the automotive aftermarket industry. It offers a line of off-road lifestyle apparel, its own brand of off-road lighting and accessories, the online and physical retail and installation of automotive aftermarket parts, and personal-build consulting.


Sarah Bellos, president and founder of Stony Creek Colors.

Stony Creek Colors builds partnerships with farmers and mills who grow and process tobacco to help them convert to indigo plants; it then works with brands, especially those who fabricate denim, to use the bio-based dyes made from the indigo as a vibrant, scalable, and environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic dyes. Bellos has been written up in Forbes and won the 2015 American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists’ Young Entrepreneur Award. 

Aria L. Byrd,PhD Candidate, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, University of Kentucky.

Aria Byrd

A native of Atlanta, Aria Byrd received her B.S. in biology with a concentration in biotechnology from Albany State University and her M.S. in biology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Her growing fascination with understanding how the body responds to both voluntary and involuntary environmental exposures has led her to pursue a doctoral degree in toxicology at the University of Kentucky. Aria has a passion for science communication and aspires to play an integral role in influencing national and global health policy by serving as a liaison for scientists and nonscientists.

Brianna Harlan, multidisciplinary artist and activist from Louisville.

Brianna Harlan

Brianna Harlan uses creativity and radical vulnerability for good. She works to engage and support community at Center For Neighborhoods and uses visual art as a tool to create reflective and constructive experience. Recently she has been part of the Creative Capital-affiliated CFL Hadley Creatives, served as the Artist-in-Residence at Ox-Bow School of Art, and received a Great Meadows Foundation grant and the Kentucky Foundation for Women's FireStarter Award for art and social change. The first step of her work is always to break down the barriers of performative culture to reach a place that serves collective healing.

Tirthak Saha, co-Founder, TrolysisForbes 30 Under 30.

Tirthak Saha

Tirthak Saha is an electrical engineer and scientist working in the field of energy. He was awarded a Forbes 30 Under 30 title in 2018 for his work in modernizing the electric grid for one of the nation's largest utilities, American Electric Power and for his space energy systems research with NASA. He is currently the Co-Founder of Trolysis, a renewable energy company developing innovative solutions to the world's energy and climate change problems.

Paige Halpin Smith, director of development, Fayette Alliance.

Paige Halpin Smith

 Raised in the rural Midwest, Paige Halpin Smith was actively involved in 4-H and loved following her grandfather’s local government career. Paige moved to Kentucky to work on political campaigns after earning a Master’s degree in U.S. History at Loyola-Chicago. She previously served as the Associate Director of Development for her beloved alma mater, Monmouth College. She has spent the past three years at the Fayette Alliance, a coalition of citizens dedicated to achieving sustainable growth in Lexington-Fayette County through land-use advocacy, education, and research.






Listen to what our speakers had to say at
IdeaFestival Bowling Green 2018: What's the Big Idea? 
on our Past Festivals page
-- we have videos of every speaker and each Q&A.


IdeaFestival Bowling Green Just Imagine logo

February 13, 2019

Van Meter Hall & Downing Student Union
Western Kentucky University


Minds-on, Hands-on, Activities


Past Festivals



Student Engagement Materials (to come)





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 Last Modified 11/30/18