Bexley is launching a new community learning series featuring experts with local roots.

Bexley is launching a new community learning series featuring experts with local roots.

The series, "BexTalks: Small Town, Big Ideas," will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Bexley Public Library, 2411 E. Main St. The first speaker will be Netta Gurari, a Bexley native and robotics expert from Northwestern University, who will discuss the role of robotics in the science of touch.

The series is a joint venture between the city of Bexley and the library.

"It was jointly brainstormed between myself and library director Rachel Rubin," Mayor Ben Kessler said. "We started tossing the idea back and forth about how to feature all of the nascent talent that we have in our community and how to put together a forum where residents could hear and exchange big ideas."

The series will highlight nationally recognized experts who will share new research, with a local and global perspective, said Ken Flower, the library's director of advancement and community relations.

"Bexley has been, and is, home to some of the best and brightest thinkers and we wanted to find a way for our whole community to learn from them," Flower said.

Gurari was raised in Bexley and is a 2000 Bexley High School graduate. She received her doctorate in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University with a focus on haptics, or the study of touch perception and robotics.

Currently conducting research in Northwestern University's Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences Department, Gurari is exploring how to improve the quality of life for many lacking touch perception through custom-made robotics systems, Flower said.

"She will share more about her cutting-edge research on how robotics and haptics can help people regain their sense of touch," Flower said.

The "BexTalks" series is funded by a grant from the Bexley Community Foundation, which the city of Bexley and the Bexley Public Library received in 2014. The foundation issued the $5,736 grant because the series promotes community education, said Hallie Raskin, the foundation's executive director.

"We thought it was a great idea for our residents and our community," she said.

Since the city and library jointly applied for the grant, the series fulfills another goal that the foundation supports -- bringing organizations together to accomplish mutual goals, Raskin said.

"We love encouraging collaboration among our grant recipients," she said.

The next "BexTalks" event is scheduled for April 7 to coincide with World Health Day. It will feature Dr. Nick Baird

Baird worked closely alongside Jack Hannah with gorillas at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, served as director of the Ohio Department of Health and was appointed to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2002. He is currently CEO of U.S. Healthiest.

More information about the series is available online at bexleylibrary.org.