Nina Gregory

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Five years before the coronavirus pandemic, Bill Gates didn't mince words: "If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war," he said at the 2015 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The annual TED conference wraps up Saturday. It kicked off in Vancouver this week with a collection of short talks from this year's TED Fellows — a group of "rising stars" from across disciplines and around the world. They talks have become must-see sessions for those in the know, as they feature people doing cutting edge work that hasn't yet broken out. One theme that quickly emerged from this year's crop of Fellows: fighting systemic racism in the United States.

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When Wanuri Kahiu took to the TED Fellows stage this week in Vancouver, the 36-year-old had on green shoes and a beaded necklace worn like a crown — a hint to her offbeat worldview.

Devita Davison is the executive director of FoodLab Detroit — an organization that's trying to turn the former capital of American industry into an "agrarian paradise."

When Chris Ategeka was a boy of 7 in Uganda, his parents died of HIV/AIDS. And his brother, not yet 5, died of malaria.

Today he's 32. He's got a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (where he was the commencement speaker for the college of engineering at his graduation in 2011). With his entrepreneurial spirit, he could have followed classmates to Silicon Valley.

But he didn't.

In his TED Fellows talk in Vancouver this week, he explained how his personal history set him on a different path.

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