Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Plenary Panel: Real-Time Awareness in Different Contexts - Panelist Bios & Photos

Plenary Panel: Real-Time Awareness in Different Contexts


Dr. Linton Wells (Moderator) - National Defense University

Dr. Linton Wells II is the Director of the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at the National Defense University (NDU). He has served in the Department of Defense (DoD) for 47 years. During 26 years as a naval officer he served in a variety of surface ships, including command of a destroyer squadron and guided missile destroyer.  Before NDU he spent 16 years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), serving last as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration). He has thrice been awarded the DoD medal for Distinguished Public Service.


Robert Bectel - Department of Energy 

Robert Bectel serves as Chief Technology Officer and Senior Policy Advisor for EERE where he helps accelerate the commercialization of new energy solutions.  To do this, he brings a unique focus and expertise on using cutting-edge technologies to enable the development of low cost and easily accessible distributable content, mobile applications and interactive destinations – all with the goal of helping transform and expedite market acceptance.  Prior to his transition to government, Rob’s more than 15 years of experience included both the non-profit and commercial sectors. He built and managed the first vertical business network for pharmacists,, for the National Community Pharmacists Association, and led its Committee on Innovation and Technology.


Robert Kirkpatrick - UN Global Pulse

Robert Kirkpatrick is Director of the Global Pulse initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, which aims to harness big data for a real-time understanding of human well-being. Robert’s activities in government, academia, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector have focused on developing innovative solutions at the intersection of technology, policy and social change. Robert has more than 15 years of experience in the design and use of advanced technology tools in business, public health, disaster relief, security coordination, citizen journalism, telemedicine, crisis monitoring, conflict mediation, and peace building activities. His work has focused on strengthening public policy, enhancing crisis resilience and catalyzing organizational change. Robert advocates open data, open standards, open source software, and participatory development.


Ahmed Al Omran - NPR

Ahmed Al Omran is a Saudi blogger and multimedia journalist. His blog, Saudi Jeans, is one of the most well-known and long standing blogs in the Middle East. His writings appeared in major publications such as the New York Times and the Guardian. Born and raised in Hofuf, eastern Saudi Arabia, he received his B.A. in pharmacy from King Saud University in Riyadh. He recently graduated with a Master’s degree in digital media from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. Currently, he works as a production assistant on the social media desk at NPR. Ahmed is also an alum of the IVLP, which brought him to the US for the first time in September 2007 to learn about civil liberties and life in the States. 


Clark Freifeld -

Clark Freifeld is a Research Software Developer in the Computational Epidemiology Group at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. At Children’s, he co-founded the HealthMap global real-time disease outbreak monitoring system. He designed and implemented the system’s automated text extraction and natural language processing algorithms, database structure, and initial frontend user interface. HealthMap subsequently secured grant funding from, the National Library of Medicine, and other sources, totaling over $1 million in annual funding; the system has received multiple national awards, including selection by the Smithsonian Institution, Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, National Design Triennial exhibition in 2010. Freifeld has co-authored over a dozen journal articles, including papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, and PLoS Medicine. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, New England Cable News; his work has been covered in Wired Magazine, Scientific American, New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, as well as other local, national and international media. 

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