2016 Speakers

Dr. Justin Feinstein

Researcher at the Float Clinic and Research Center

Dr. Feinstein is Director of the Float Clinic and Research Center (FCRC) at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. The FCRC’s mission is to investigate the effects of floatation on both the body and the brain, as well as explore its potential as a therapeutic treatment for promoting mental health and healing in patients who suffer from anxiety and PTSD.

His presentation will unveil the results from a recent float-fMRI study, illuminating for the first time how the human brain is changed by the floating experience.

Dr. Rick Doblin

Founder of MAPS

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment.

Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife and one of three children (two in college).

Glenn Perry

Creator of the first commercial float tank

Glenn Perry, mentored by Dr John C. Lilly, developed the first ever commercial float tank, the Samadhi tank. Since then, he never stops tinkering, continuing to push the world of floatation forward with his own ever present brand of functional innovation and design, focusing on improving the user’s experience at an affordable price.

Glenn will be here to speak with his partner Lee.

Lee Perry

President of the Samadhi Tank Company

Lee Perry, as president of the Samadhi Tank Company, has spent the last 40 years working to keep the business of floating a journey into the realm of service and adventure. As chairman of the board of the Floatation Tank Association, she focuses on advocating best practices, educating health departments on regulations for this industry, and supporting new float businesses.

Along with being here as a representative of the FTA, Lee will also be giving a presentation alongside her husband Glenn Perry.

Jim Hefner

Co-Owner of Just Float – The world’s largest float center

Jim Hefner is co-founder and visionary of the world’s largest float center, Just Float, located in Los Angeles, CA. He is also a fledgling psychonaut, serial entrepreneur, MBA, adventure athlete, husband and father, who also happens to be rabid about floating and creating the perfect float environment. Throughout his life, he’s been drawn to hobbies and experiences that require perfect commitment to the moment. Whether on a sheer rock face, a mountain bike, a wave, or in a float tank, what matters most to him is the sacred experience of flow, of absolute attention, and freedom from the noise of everyday life.

Dr. Peter Suedfeld

One of the original REST researchers

Peter Suedfeld has been actively working in the field of psychology for over 50 years. With a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Dr. Suedfeld has spent his career studying how human beings react to coping with the world around them.

He is one of the pioneering researchers in the field of REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy), and was the founding President of IRIS (the International REST Investigators Society). His research continues to be a foundation of knowledge on REST, and its effects on the human condition.

Ashkahn Jahromi

Float Conference organizer and MC

Ashkahn Jahromi will serve as host and MC for the 2016 Float Conference. He’s spent the last year preparing by repeating tongue twisters like, “Freaky Fred finds fulfillment from floatation.”

As one of the owners of Float On here in Portland, Oregon, Ashkahn has dealt with his fair share of salty messes, and through it has learned a thing or two about float tanks, the operation of a float center, and float tank sanitation and regulations.

Ashkahn will be presenting with Graham Talley about the business philosophy that Float On practices, and speaking at the How to Start a Float Center Workshop, a crash course in building and running a float center.

Graham Talley

Float Conference organizer and owner of Float On

Graham Talley, one of the original founders of Float On, will be speaking at both the conference and the How to Start a Float Center Workshop.

Graham has been lecturing on small business, happiness, national monuments, and (most recently) float tanks for the better part of a decade. His interests and areas of expertise extend from water sanitation to treasure hunts, from complex systems design to experimental theater.

Jake Marty

Owner of Float On – Speaking at the Start a Center Workshop

Jake Marty, another one of the Float On owners, will be speaking at the How to Start a Float Center Workshop. He will be sharing experiences from the last several years where he spent countless days (and nights) fighting the good fight against salt damage and defending against rogue sound waves trying to sneak into beautiful, peaceful float rooms.

Jake will also be conducting the NSPF Certified Pool/Spa Operator training course taking place on the Monday following the Float Conference.

Whichever city Jake is in, he can often be found atop the nearest mountain anticipating the sunrise.

Michael Harding

Used floating to recover from PTSD

Michael is a former infantryman of the Royal Australian Regiment. In 2010 he was deployed to Afghanistan. After six months Michael was involved in an extended contact with highly trained Taliban insurgents known as the “Battle of Derapet.” It was during this battle that he witnessed the death of his mate “Crash,” following which he was later returned home with a diagnosis of Conversion Disorder, a physical manifestation of trauma and Post Traumatic Stress. The two and a half years following his return were a blur of prescription medications, alcohol abuse, depression, reliving his trauma for the sake of exposure therapy and navigating the frustrating system that is the Department of Veterans Affairs. There were plenty of ups & downs but with the unwavering support of his partner and family he was inspired to find new ways to approach mental health and post traumatic stress.

Michael is currently a Mentor/ Facilitator with Trojan’s Trek and an active advocate for the use of alternative treatments for Service induced stress. His first hand experience of war has given him a unique perspective for viewing the world. In March 2014 Michael started floating. After 6 months he had recognised such an improvement in his condition that they purchased and installed a second-hand float tank at home. He and his partner have been featured in the book “The Float Tank Cure” by Shane Stott and in an article about floatation in TIME magazine with Dr Justin Feinstein and Professor Thomas Fine.

Rebecca Houghton

Used floating to help Michael through PTSD

As a partner and caregiver of an Australian Army Combat Veteran, Rebecca knows intimately the impact of service-induced stress and the ripple effect of trauma on partners and families.

Bek was left unimpressed by the evidence-based treatment of pharmaceuticals and exposure therapy for trauma and chronic pain which rendered her partner Michael cognitively numb, suicidal, and with little quality of life. Bek chose love over career, devoted herself to finding safe, healthy, and effective treatment options and helped manage his condition naturally – a journey which has seen them both sitting down with some of the world’s leading experts in alternative approaches to Traumatic Stress.

Leading by example, Bek was determined to create her own ‘positive’ ripple effect at home by overhauling their old lifestyle and incorporating daily mind-body-spirit practices. Being the primary support person for Michael has presented its own challenges for Bek, leading her to recognise the necessity of maintaining her own health and wellness by using the same treatment modalities.

Bob Crandall

Expert on UV / Hydrogen Peroxide
Speaking on the Water Sanitation Panel

For almost four decades, Bob Crandall has worked and studied in a wide range of water quality, environmental, technical, and policy areas within the private and public sectors. While Bob is retired now, he most recently worked as Assistant Executive Officer for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency responsible for protecting water quality for the vast majority of Californians. Prior to that, he served in various capacities with the State’s Dept. of Toxic Substances Control and the California Environmental Protection Agency.

After completing his undergraduate work at Stanford University, Bob returned to school at the University of British Columbia for his master’s degree in Environmental Planning & Natural Resources Mgmt. – one of the first, if not the first, degreed environmental programs in North America. His thesis, “Public Policy for Public Spas and Hot Tubs”, became a reference for public health agencies and industry.

Bob later both served on NSF technical standards committees for UV disinfection and worked as Director of Research for Ultraviolet Technology where he applied his expertise to develop the use of UV and Hydrogen Peroxide to treat spas and therapy pools, in addition to UV disinfection for other various water quality applications. He secured the first public health dept. approval for the use of a non-halogenated disinfectant, and overall was successful in obtaining approvals in more than 50 State and County jurisdictions.

Bob will be speaking on the Water Sanitation Panel.

Jason MacDonald

President of the Alberta branch of Canadian Health Inspectors
Speaking on the Water Sanitation Panel

Jason began his career as a health inspector in 2005 after years of managing a successful retail business. He initially focused his attention to the inspection of aquatic facilities in Edmonton, and for several years was the health inspector for the world’s largest indoor waterpark at West Edmonton Mall. After that, he shifted his focus to personal service inspections. As a topic expert in this area, Jason gives many presentations across Canada on infection prevention and control issues that arise in these settings. He is also a guest lecturer to Environmental Health students at Concordia University College in Edmonton, Alberta for both swimming pools and personal services.

Jason completed the After Degree Program in Environmental Health at Concordia University College in 2004 and also holds an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and Chemistry from the University of Alberta. In 2011 he was elected to the National Executive Council of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.

Jason will be on the Water Sanitation Panel.

Rich Martin

NSF International
Speaking on the Water Sanitation Panel

Rich Martin works for NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation), an international organization focused on creating standards and certifications for the protection of public health.

The NSF is in the process of developing a standard for the certification of floatation tanks, and Rich has been the spearheading force in the development of this standard.

Rich has spent the better part of 20 years working in the field of health safety and operation of pools/spas and drinking water through a number of accredited standards organizations.

Rich will be speaking on the Water Sanitation Panel.

Dr. Sahib Khalsa

Researcher at the Float Clinic and Research Center

Dr. Khalsa is Director of Clinical Studies at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. His research on the heart-brain connection focuses on improving our understanding of how people feel their heartbeat, and how the human brain maps cardiac sensation. The long-term goal of this work is to develop new treatments that re-establish a functional dialogue between the heart and brain in psychiatric illness.

His presentation will demonstrate how floating provides a powerful form of internal sensory enhancement that bolsters awareness of the heartbeat. He will also describe preliminary results from a study investigating how floating is experienced by individuals with anorexia nervosa.

Dr. Ricardo Gil-da-Costa

Co-founder of Neuroverse, brain sensing technology used at LIBR

For 19 years, Dr. Gil-da-Costa’s pursuit of how the mind and brain work led him to behavioral field studies in Africa and Central America and neurophysiology laboratory research from Harvard University to the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Most recently, he co-founded and serves as C.E.O. of Neuroverse, Inc., a neurotechnology company that has created a new class of mobile brain interfaces for health and consumer electronics applications.

Whether conducting research in the oceans and jungles, investigating the evolutionary and neural foundations of human cognition and language, serving as a Hollywood science consultant, or developing novel brain imaging methods and brain-machine interfaces, Dr. Gil-da-Costa’s work has not only contributed seminal findings to the field of cognitive neurosciences but has also pushed the boundaries of scientific inquiry and translational application outside of the traditional laboratory structure. His work leading the Neuroverse team continues this expansion by creating a brain interface for use in everyday life.

Colleen Wohlrab

Researcher at the Float Clinic and Research Center

Colleen Wohlrab is the Laboratory Manager of the Float Clinic and Research Center (FCRC) at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her love for water dates back to her time as an NCAA Division I MVP rower and now takes the form of working in floatation research.

She will be discussing the preliminary results from physiological measurements continuously collected during the float experience.

Dr. Pan Lin

Researcher at the Float Clinic and Research Center

Dr. Pan Lin is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. He recently moved from Xi’an, China all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to join the Float Clinic & Research Center, where he will be an integral researcher exploring the neuroscience of floatation in both healthy and anxious populations.

Charlie Williams

Researching the history of John Lilly and Jay Shurley

Charlie Williams is a doctoral candidate studying history at Birkbeck College, University of London, with Birkbeck’s ‘Hidden Persuaders’ project. His PhD, provisionally entitled “Battles for the Mind: brainwashing, altered states and the politics of the nervous system,” focuses on Cold War experiments into mind and consciousness.

Charlie discovered floatation through a study of the history of sensory deprivation, and took his first float in March 2016. He has since been digging deep into the history of floatation, and has traveled to the US to visit the archives of both John Lilly and Jay Shurley.

Kevin Johnson

Owner of Zero Gravity Float Rooms

Kevin Johnson is the founder and CEO of Zero Gravity Institute in Austin, TX. ZGI is a state of the art floatation center and private research facility. He is also the designer and manufacturer of the new, technologically advanced Zero Gravity Float Rooms.

Kevin has been floating since 1986, when he went to work for one of the world’s first commercial floatation centers. With a history of over 500 floats, including a recent research project titled “100 floats in 100 days”, Kevin brings a vast amount of knowledge, insight and experience to the world of floatation and the tank manufacturing industry.

In addition to his work with Zero Gravity Institute and Zero Gravity Float Rooms, Kevin is also actively consulting on over a dozen new float centers opening around the world and has recently started working on a new book called “Floating – Evolution of the Next Consciousness”. He has been featured in several magazines and periodicals, and has appeared on many popular podcasts including; “Tangentially Speaking” with Christopher Ryan Ph.D, “The Warrior Poet” with Aubrey Marcus, “Not Just Paleo” with Evan Brand, and “Fat Burning Man” with Abel James.

Jesse Ratner-Decle

Co-Founder of Float Toronto

Jesse is the co-founder of Float Toronto, a five tank centre on the west side of Toronto, Canada. Jesse is a Holistic Nutritionist, an avid freestyle frisbee player, and a former varsity basketball point guard out of Mcgill University in Montreal. His love for water combined with a keen interest in self development were the magnets that lead him to the float tank.

The realization that these magical salt water pods had the potential to genuinely help a huge amount of people was the motivating factor for Sean and Jesse to start their centre. Their talk at the Float Conference will focus on “How to keep the tanks full” – they will take the audience on a brief journey through their first 2 years of operation and describe the strategies that have helped them spread the salty word!

Sean Lavery

Co-Founder of Float Toronto

Sean is an avid yoga practitioner and former competitive hockey and rugby player. After studying political science and economics at Mcgill University he spent a few years as an entrepreneur in the world of online retail. Feeling completely overworked and over-stressed, he took his first vacation since university. A distinct lack of fulfillment combined with a newfound passion for introspection and silent contemplation led him into his first float.

The realization that these magical salt water pods had the potential to genuinely help a huge amount of people was the motivating factor for Sean and Jesse to start their centre. Their talk at the Float Conference will focus on “How to keep the tanks full” – they will take the audience on a brief journey through their first 2 years of operation and describe the strategies that have helped them spread the salty word!

Kirsten Gerrish

Owner of Float Alaska and Heritage Birth Centers
Voted in Speaker

Kirsten Gerrish has been an Alaskan midwife attending home and birth center births since 1999. Kirsten opened her first birth center in 2010 with Lena Kilic and together they have opened 3 birth centers. Their latest venture was opening a float center with their husbands, who are worried about what they’ll dream up next. To Kirsten, floating represents a way to care for herself and the community around her, in the birth center and out. Kirsten is a lover of all things wool, holds a degree in German Literature, and can often be found with her husband and his camera hunting local birds.

Lena Kilic

Owner of Float Alaska and Heritage Birth Centers
Voted in Speaker

Lena Kilic has been an Alaskan midwife attending home and birth center births since 2008. Lena opened her first birth center in 2010 with Kirsten Gerrish. Together they have opened three birth centers. Their latest venture was opening a float center with their husbands. Lena and Kirsten aren’t sure how they do it all either (coffee? floating?). To Lena floating represents a moment away from the bustle of small children and her phone incessantly buzzing. She also thinks it’s cool that other people benefit from the tank too. Lena is an amateur beekeeper, former jewelry designer, and runs three Airbnb rentals with her husband.

Nick Janicki

Owner of True REST and Float Pod Technologies

Nick Janicki is the founder of the True REST® Float Spa, CEO of Float Pod™ Technologies and founder of the Floatpodcast.com. With 14 locations open/opening and 30 more on the horizon, True REST is the fastest growing floating franchisor in the world.

Nick discovered Floating in November of 2008 after watching a Joe Rogan video about it. He immediately sought out the experience and after several months of searching was able to try it. He was sold after the first float and recognized “As a society it seems we have forgotten how to relax and relaxation is a state that must be remembered. Flotation Therapy is an environment that meditates you and without any effort your body, mind and spirit awaken to the memories and benefits of true rest.”

Nick has the vision of creating a brand based platform for floating and estimates 1,000,000 will have floated through the True REST brand within the next 5 years. Nick believes the future of floating is all about collaborative technological enhancements and is researching and actively integrating technologies and environmental changes into the floating including, ORME, grounding, EMF blocking, sound resonance, bio-feedback, etc.

Stephen Johnson

Psychiatric Nurse, Fascial Anatomist, and Philosopher

Stephen Johnson has been a boxer, modern dancer, actor, coach and trainer. He has worked as a Psychiatric Nurse for 27 years, and conducted a private practice as a Structural Integrator for over 20 years. He is an Anatomist specializing in Fascial Anatomy, has conducted research, and taught at various schools. He is a Bio Somatic Movement educator, a yoga teacher in the Ashtanga style, a long time meditator in both Soto and Rinzai traditions and a practitioner of Tai Chi / Qi Gong.

En route to an ordination in Interfaith and counseling with an emphasis in the science-spirit interfaith, eco-spirituality and somato-spiritual practices. He is the director of The Spirit Assemblage, which is an educational forum for the definition and exploration of non-religious spirit as it manifests in the self and culture. Stephen is currently working on a series of Lectures/book “The Body: Physic and Meta-Physic.”

Gary Ferguson

Founder of Pathways for Veterans
Voted in Speaker

Gary Ferguson is a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran (Tet 1967 – 1968). He is the founder of Pathways for Veterans, a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to help other veterans understand the VA resources and offerings. The Pathways program will enroll you in transformational activities that help guide you along the way.

Joey Thomas

From Sunlighten Infrared Saunas

Joey Thomas represents Sunlighten, Inc. the Industry leader in Patented Infrared Technology. She has been involved with the global promotion of Sunlighten’s Solocarbon® FAR and revolutionary 3 in 1 FULL Spectrum (Far-Mid & Near) Infrared saunas for 10 years.

As a Commercial & Medical Account Manager, her background in management, business development, and marketing is applied when working with Sunlighten’s professional accounts. Her strong design & communication skills and a sincere interest in natural holistic wellness are demonstrated through the support she provides business owners.

Joey has established vendor relationships with individual and corporate Fitness, Spas & Medical Centers such as Maximized Living Health Centers, Riviera Fitness Centers and Xsport Fitness. Sunlighten Purifying Treatments provide a perfect complement with Floating and a great source of additional revenue. Locations such as: Tao Massage & Float Center, Elements Float Spa, Hope Floats, East Coast Floats, A New Spirit Wellness & Spa, Float & Flourish Center, The Float Factor are just a few of the enterprises generating a fast ROI with Sunlighten infrared therapy.

Joey will be speaking during the How to Start a Float Center Workshop.

Colin Stanwell-Smith

Owner of Float Away and developer of the Float Clinic and Research Center’s float tanks

Colin Stanwell-Smith is a British engineer and technologist who decided to make float tanks in 1999 after a career in high tech product development. He owns Floataway, a manufacturing company with a range of float tanks and associated technology.

Colin, along with his wife Gini, worked with Justin Feinstein at the Float Clinic and Research Center to develop their research oriented float tanks, built with a host of sensors to aid in the research.

Pete O’Brien

Owner of At Peace float center and float room manufacturing

Pete, along with his wife Donna, is the owner of At Peace Floatation and Massage in Colleyville, Texas. Pete, a former major league baseball player for 12 years, understands the importance of floating, not just for athletes, but everyone! Pete’s impetus for opening At Peace was to provide a place for people to decompress, subsequently allowing their restored immune system to aid in health and wellness of the individual. At Peace was opened in May 2008, and continues to operate, making it one of the oldest float centers in the U.S.

At Peace Spas Manufacturing began in 2013, with the hopes of providing a durable and reliable float unit, without the huge cost of acquisition.

From At Peace:

“The cost of opening a float center comes down to cost of space (rent) and cost of float units. It has been our goal with At Peace Spas to keep the cost of the float units at a reasonable price. This has truly made us a value competitor when it comes to your decision on rooms, cabins, or pods. We understand the choices you have when purchasing your equipment, we want to help take the heartburn out of that decision. We are with you every step of the way, providing ongoing consultation with regard to rental space, layout, business planning and ideas. We are in the final phase of ETL designation which will be beneficial for new buyers when opening float centers when dealing with their local Health Departments.”

Ray Thoma

Co-Founder of Tranquil Solutions

Ray has been involved in the health/wellness and athletics industries for almost 35 years. From his career as a professional baseball player with the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs organizations, to his early Sales Rep career with the then up-and-coming, Reebok, Ray has always cultivated his performance and growth mindset. He left the equipment industry when he was offered the opportunity to become the first, and eventually among the largest, franchisees for LA Weight Loss Centers. After learning about floating from friends at the Australian Institute of Sport, Ray studied the industry for months before opening his concept, The Float Spot. With more than five years experience and two locations in the competitive Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Ray is proud to be a Co-Founder of Tranquil Solutions, a new enterprise dedicated to bringing the world’s most innovative, user-friendly, and perfectly engineered float pod to North America – the Orbit.

Ray will be speaking during the How to Start a Float Center Workshop.