• Dennis Hedge was named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at South Dakota State University in May 2016. Prior to serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dennis served as a faculty member, Department Head, Associate Dean, and Dean of SDSU’s College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions.

    A native of Hoxie, Kansas, Dennis earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Kansas in 1991, followed by a one-year residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Highlights of Dennis’ time at SDSU have included serving as the university’s lead in establishing the Masters of Public Health degree program, integrating Medical Laboratory Science and Respiratory Care into the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, organizing and launching the College of Natural Sciences, facilitating the creation of new academic programs at SDSU including the Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine, Business Economics, and Concrete Industry Management, continued growth of accredited and certified programs offered by SDSU to its current record high, and surpassing the university’s student retention goal of 80% for the past two consecutive years.

    In addition, Dennis has held multiple leadership positions with advisory boards and committees, and received the South Dakota Pharmacists Association Honorary President Award in 2011 and the South Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacist’s Gary Karel Lecture Award in March of 2018, which are among the highest recognitions by these organizations.

  • Hollie Mackey (Northern Cheyenne) is the Chief Executive Officer and PI for the North Dakota Advanced Agriculture Technology Engine (FARMS). Dr. Mackey formerly served as the Broadening Participation lead for the North Dakota EPSCoR and Executive Director for the White House Initiative to Advance Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities. Dr. Mackey’s scholarship examines the effects of structural inequity in Indigenous and other marginalized populations in educational leadership and public policy which she uses to advocate nationally for Tribal sovereignty and self-determination in education.

  • Amber E. Orr is a Professional Engineer practicing in the State of Washington, USA. She has a history of working in both the Industrial and Power & Energy sectors. She is also an Electrical Forensic Engineer. She is currently the Chief Engineer representing several blockchain and HPC organizations supporting or developing their new large infrastructure requests and renewables throughout the United States.

  • Russell Harrison was named IEEE-USA's Managing Director in 2023, where he previously served as as Director of Government Relations. Russell is responsible for managing IEEE's Washington, DC, USA office, supporting IEEE-USA's Board of Directors, serving on the IEEE Management Council, and providing overall direction to IEEE-USA's government relations, member and professional activities, and communications programs. He is also the staff lead for IEEE's Global Public Policy Committee, which oversees IEEE's worldwide policy activities.

    Russell has spent 27 years in the association government relations world. Prior to joining IEEE in 2003, he represented the Institute of Scrap Recycling, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the American Trucking Association on Capitol Hill. Outside of IEEE, Russell is a former member of both the Manassas, VA, USA’s Planning Commission and Electoral Board, where he served as Chair from 2013 to 2016.  He has also served on the Board of Directors of Historic Manassas and the Virginia State PTA.

    Russell has a Master’s in Public Management, with a focus on International Trade Relations, from the University of Maryland, and a B.A. in Political Science from Allegheny College. He is a certified Planning Commissioner (Virginia Tech).

  • Prof. KC Santosh — a highly accomplished AI expert — is the professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and the founding director of the Applied AI Research Lab at the University of South Dakota (USD). He also served the National Institutes of Health as a research fellow and LORIA Research Center as a postdoctoral research scientist, in collaboration with industrial partner, ITESOFT, France. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science—Artificial Intelligence from INRIA Nancy Grand East Research Center (France) in 2011.

    With funding exceeding $2 million from sources like DOD, NSF, ED, and SDBOR, he has authored 11 books and more than 250 peer-reviewed research articles, including IEEE Transactions on PAMI and Medical Imaging. He serves as an associate editor for esteemed journals such as IEEE Transactions on AI, Int. J of Machine Learning & Cybernetics, and Int. J of Pattern Recognition & Artificial Intelligence. His recent and popular books include Cracking the Machine Learning Code: Technicality or Innovation? (2024, Springer Nature), Active Learning to Minimize Future Epidemics (2023, Springer Nature), AI, Ethical Issues and Explainability (2022, Springer Nature), and Deep Learning Models for Medical Imaging (2021, Elsevier).

    To name a few, Prof. Santosh is the proud recipient of the Visionary Leadership Award (University of Derby - UK, 2023) Cutler Award for Teaching and Research Excellence (USD, 2021), the President's Research Excellence Award (USD, 2019), and the Ignite Award from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS, 2014).

    Effective from Spring 2024, he has joined the NIST's AI Safety Institute Consortium, with USD being the only institution representing the state of South Dakota in this consortium.

    As the founder of AI programs at USD, he has taken significant strides to increase enrollment in the graduate program, resulting in over 3,000% growth in just three years. His leadership has helped build multiple inter-disciplinary AI/Data Science related academic programs, including collaborations with Biology, Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Sustainability and Business Analytics departments. Prof. Santosh is highly motivated in academic leadership, and his contributions have established USD as a pioneer in AI programs within the state of SD. More info: https://kc-santosh.org/ (personal web).

  • While at SD Mines, I have focused on a variety of collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects focusing on sustainability and the environment. The focus of my research mimics the shift in environmental engineering towards multi-disciplinary environmental challenges that utilize collaborative expertise from various science and engineering disciplines. My research focus includes:

    • Life cycle assessment (LCA) and holistic triple-bottom line analyses with applications towards agricultural and environmental engineering processes;
    • Fate and transport of uranium from historical legacy mine sites and insitu solution recovery (ISR) uranium operations;
    • Hydrologic and water quality impacts resulting from the mountain pine beetle outbreak in the Black Hills;
    • Anaerobic digestion and bioenergy production for agricultural and domestic waste treatment;
    • Food energy water (FEW) nexus challenges for the northern Great Plains.

    I joined SD Mines after completing my Ph.D. and post-doctoral studies at Penn State, where I investigated biogeochemical interactions within contaminated subsurface environments. My post-doctoral research focused on the effect of natural organic material on the biological reduction of uranium contaminated ground waters [through biotic reduction of soluble U(VI) to insoluble U(IV)]. I completed my BS in Civil Engineering, and MS degree in Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. Between my studies at Virginia Tech and Penn State, I worked as an environmental consultant for five years where I designed environmental remediation systems for water, wastewater, and hazardous waste applications.

    I have taught a wide range of engineering courses at SD Mines, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and have participated in several teaching workshops, particularly those integrating active and problem based learning and new environmental engineering concepts into the classroom. I continually strive to provide SD Mine’s environmental-focused students with relevant, real world case studies and assignments to better prepare them to handle tomorrow’s complex environmental problems in addition to developing new courses that broaden their environmental and sustainability knowledge base.

  • Vickie Ozburn’s mission, she says, as director of IEEE Region 4 is to use her leadership talents to inspire, encourage, and collaborate. She has more than 30 years of experience in leadership, project management, engineering management, quality, software engineering, and production. Ozburn says she enjoys working on projects that allow opportunities to reach across markets to dream, design, and build without limits. She works within an Avionics business unit, where they enable safe flight through their products and services. Her focus is on keeping passengers, flight crews, and militaries safe, connected, and informed.

    A member of the IEEE Computer Society, Ozburn has been an active IEEE volunteer for more than 17 years. She has held several leadership positions on committees within her section and region. The committees set strategies and goals for the region. Ozburn prides herself on bringing forth many creative ideas and initiatives and, more importantly, laying out explicit courses of action and steps to assist IEEE members. She is a founding member of the IEEE Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Section’s Women In Engineering Affinity Group.

    As a member of the IEEE Board of Directors, she dedicates her time and effort to promoting and growing membership and engaging IEEE members to use their skills and diversity of thought to address real-world problems.

    Ozburn received the IEEE Cedar Rapids Section’s Ted A. Hunter Award for outstanding individual service in furthering the section’s purposes and objectives. She was honored with the 2016 Collins Aerospace Enterprise Women’s Champion of the Year Award and the 2013 Women’s Forum Contributor of the Year Award.

  • Ryan Oines is the Chief Operating Officer at the USD Discovery District in Sioux Falls, SD. In this role, he leads the business and financial operations for the planned future development of 26 privately developed buildings with facility construction estimated to exceed $314M. Additionally, from 2020 to 2022, he worked with the Technology Readiness Acceleration Center (TRAC) at the University of South Dakota. As a TRAC mentor, Ryan assisted in developing a program that paired USD graduate students with faculty and industry inventors and supported the development and commercialization of novel technologies through education, innovations, and entrepreneurship.

    Prior to his role at the USD Discovery District, Ryan was the Interim Vice President at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship where he led facility and program operations, and strategic partnerships. Before accepting the role of Vice President, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Zeal where he led Zeal’s initial participation in Falls Angel Fund I in 2016, a fund dedicated to helping promising, early-stage companies in South Dakota scale into successful businesses.

    He has spent the last 25 years launching and assisting multiple start-up companies in the region and has a special interest in financial operations, strategic business development, and working with entrepreneurs. In 2002, Ryan worked with the Seattle-based start-up, Monet Mobile Networks, to launch North America’s first CDMA wireless data network in Sioux Falls, SD.  In 2010, he co-founded Logical Energy Solutions, LLC, a wind energy repairs & maintenance provider based in Sioux Falls, SD leading business and financial operations. Mr. Oines has proven experience in business operations and raising start-up capital.

  • Thomas Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected digital storage analyst as well as a business and technology consultant.  He has over 35 years in the data storage industry with engineering and management positions at high profile companies.

    Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit.

    Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics:  The Essential Guide, which is now in its second edition with Springer. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as Data Storage Technical and Business Consulting services.  Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, the Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Report and other industry reports.  Tom is also a regular contributor on digital storage for Forbes.com and other blogs.

    Tom is active with SMPTE (Journal article writer and Conference Program Committee), SNIA (including a founder of the SNIA SSSI), the IEEE, (he is past Chair of the IEEE Public Visibility Committee, Past Director for IEEE Region 6, President Elect for IEEE USA and active in the Consumer Electronics Society) and other professional organizations.

    Tom is the founder and organizer of the Annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He was the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit for 10 years.  He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the Consultants Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV).  For more information on Tom Coughlin and his publications and activities go to www.tomcoughlin.com.

  • Tyler Tordsen is the President & CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, South Dakota’s largest regional non-profit economic development organization. In this role, Tyler oversees the day-to-day operations of SMGA’s staff and mission in its efforts to serve its 16 member municipalities, 4 counties, and multiple chambers of commerce, economic development offices and more in the greater Sioux Falls MSA.

    Before taking his new role with SMGA, Tyler spent eight years serving in the Office of U.S. Senator Mike Rounds as the Southeast Regional Director and State Director of Tribal Affairs. His duties included helping South Dakotans through issues arising with the federal government, promoting communication to and from the Senator’s office and overseeing the operations and management of Senator Rounds’ Sioux Falls office.

    He is a lifelong South Dakotan who was born in Sioux Falls, grew up in Rapid City and is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe. He has a Bachelors of Science in political science and economics from the University of South Dakota, where as an undergraduate he served as the president of the USD Student Body, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and Tiospaye Student Council.

    Tyler was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives for District 14 in 2022, is a member of the House Education and House Judiciary Committees, and was appointed to the 2024 Select Committee on Legislative Relationships with Ellsworth AFB. He also served as a commissioner to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact representing South Dakota, along with being selected as a 2023 National Conference of State Legislatures Youth Homelessness Fellow. In October 2023, Tyler was chosen as a “50 Under 50” of up-and-coming conservative state legislators in the nation by the American Legislative Exchange Council. He serves on the Sioux Falls YMCA Board of Directors, the USD Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is also a member of Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club and the Sales and Marketing Executives of Sioux Falls. Tyler, his wife Erika, and their two sons Emmett and Atlas currently live in Sioux Falls.