Nerd Nite v45. Non-Animal Dissections, Fungal Pathogens, and Seismic Spying

As the Earth nears its complete tilt towards the Sun, we are also halfway through what has quickly become Nerd Nite’s biggest year in Vancouver. We can’t thank you enough for helping us grow this community of adult learning, and we’ll be announcing our fun new summer movie series very soon, but for now we have some important nerding to do. June 19th is not only the anniversary of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, but also it’s National Cocktail day. In 1806 the very first definition read as follows “Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.”

Let’s fuddle the head with knowledge and potions!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday June 19th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

Hosted by: Kaylee Byers and Michael Unger

DJ Bürger – Grant Francis Minor

Poster: Armin Mortazavi

IG: @armin.scientoonist

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1. Non-Animal Dissections

Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy

Bio: Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy is a former neuroscientist who has spent her career getting to know animals better, on their terms. After retraining in animal behaviour, welfare, and ethics she now uses her science savvy to advocate for the advancement of science without suffering. Elisabeth is co-founder and executive director of the Animals in Science Policy Institute (AiSPI), a Vancouver-based national charity. She is an instructor at the University of British Columbia, an Advisor to both the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods, and the Humane Education Coalition. She is part of the editorial team for the Alternatives to Laboratory Animals journal, and also gives national policy advice to the Canadian Council on Animal Care on a regular basis.

2. The Potential Perils of Brain Eating Fungi!

Linda Horianopulos

From leaf litter on the forest floor, to the sugars in human brains, fungi can feed on all sorts of things. The brain eating fungi have particularly intrigued researchers, leading them to speculate about the possibility of “zombie fungi”. In fact, in the insect world, it is well documented that fungi including Cordyceps infect insect hosts and control their behaviour to increase the spread of the fungal pathogens. But could they affect people in the same way? The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans disseminates throughout the body and grows well in the brain where it finds and feeds on one of its favourite sugars. We’ll explore the world of brain eating fungi and speculate on whether a human mind control fungus could reasonably evolve.

Bio: Linda is a PhD candidate with a fascination for fungi! Mushrooms are cool, but the underappreciated fungal pathogens are what really get her excited. She keeps a ukulele in the lab to pass the time and a soccer ball under her desk to hone her foot skills, after all it’s all about work-life balance, right?

3. Seismic Spying: You Can’t Keep Secrets from Rocks

Mika McKinnon

Seismology isn’t just for earthquakes. Geophysicists use seismic signals to spy on everything from bomb tests and traffic jams to crashing waves and lover’s lanes. A signal is just the noise you’re looking for, and our planet is humming in its eagerness to spill subsurface secrets.

Bio: Mika McKinnon is a geophysicist, disaster researcher, and scifi scientist. As your friendly neighbourhood geoscientist, when she’s not creeping on seismic signals, she offers tasting notes on rocks, tweaks party planning to enhance disaster preparedness, and obsesses over impending doom. McKinnon scrawls equations and establishes plausibility for shows including Stargate, Star Trek, and [redacted]. Her writing appears in Wired, io9, Vox, and more. She shares her press passes (and social media) with a bevy of mischievous plush creatures.

Nerd Nite v44: Genetics, Poetry, and Artificial Intelligence

May 22nd is National Goth Day. The Goths’ reputation as barbarians is mostly fake news that got told from the perspective of the ego-torn Romans who got their ass handed to them in 410 CE. For the most part Goths were peaceful hunters and farmers who were very sophisticated when it came to trade, diplomacy, and agriculture. It’s no wonder that these outcasts would become the inspiration for your Gr.9 self, when perhaps you first heard the dulcet tones of Robert Smith tell you that it was okay for boys to cry, practiced your spastic Ian Curtis dance moves in the mirror, and wore eyeliner just like Siouxie. So pull your black leathers and lace and get in here for the 44th version of Nerd Nite, where we have three amazing nerds to talk about genetics, poetry, and artificial intelligence!

Hosted by: Kaylee Byers and Michael Unger

DJ Bürger – Grant Francis Minor

Poster: Armin Mortazavi

IG: @armin.scientoonist

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday May 22nd; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Can Artificial Intelligence Learn Chemistry/Physics?

Rodrigo A. Vargas–Hernández

Machine learning (ML) algorithms are used extensively in daily tasks such as language translation, image recognition, and navigation systems to mention a few. In this talk, I will explore how the fields of chemistry and physics have benefited from the use of ML algorithms. ML is divided into three main fields, (i) supervised learning, (ii) unsupervised learning and (iii) reinforcement learning. During the talk, I will explain how one can reformulate some chemistry/physics problems in terms of each field of ML. The results I will present illustrate how ML can help us predict material properties, similarities between chemicals and new synthetic routes, and the synthesis of chemical compounds without human intervention using robots and computers.

2. Poetry is Fucking Fun

Dina Del Bucchia

The worst part of being a poet, and being someone who enjoys poetry, is all the jerks who say they aren’t interested in poetry, don’t read poetry, just don’t get poetry. What everyone who limits their exposure to poetry is doing to themselves is making sure they’re having a less good time. In fact, poetry is very similar to actual popular art forms. Performed on stage poetry can be as hilarious and engaging as a night at a comedy club. On the page it has the capacity to go deep on subjects normally reserved for op-eds. Or to talk about human emotions we see reflected on TV and film. The musicality of a hit song is present in poetry’s rhythm and meter. See? It’s really not so different from other pop culture. Converting people into poetry readers is the only conversion therapy I support.

Bio: Dina Del Bucchia is an otter and dress enthusiast originally from the village of Fruitvale, BC. She is the author of the short story collection, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, and four collections of poetry: Coping with Emotions and Otters, Blind Items, Rom Com, written with Daniel Zomparelli, and the newly released, It’s a Big Deal! She is a senior editor of Poetry Is Dead magazine, the Artistic Director of the Real Vancouver Writers’ Series and hosts the pretty literary podcast, Can’t Lit, with Jen Sookfong Lee. You can find out more about her at: dinadelbucchia.com.

3. Genetics

Avery Noonan

From new ideas to recounting history, language enables us to externalize our thoughts and share our ideas with the world.  With the familiar characters “ATCG” and the resemblance of a code with rules and syntax, it is easy to think of our DNA as the language of life. However, instead of being used to communicate our ideas and thoughts, the language of DNA encodes our biological past, present, and future. In an era where you can order a kit online to sequence parts of your genome and synthesize a gene for the price of a taxi home to the suburbs, reading and writing the language of life has become a common practice in medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, environmental monitoring and the study of the natural world.  However, unlike the language you speak with your friends, humanity didn’t invent DNA to represent our own thoughts, and we are still working on understanding its intricacies. Much like copying out the characters of a language you don’t speak, context is everything and meaning is often lost in translation. We are going to explore the extent to which we can read and write the genetic code, and the challenges of speaking a language we are only beginning to understand.

Bio: Avery Noonan is a Toronto-born, BC-raised graduate student at the University of British Columbia.  He is interested in biking, hipster cocktail bars, beach volleyball, hip hop and the engineering of microbial metabolisms to build, breakdown and detect material in an environmentally sustainable way, and the development of genetic tools for these purposes.

Nerd Nite v.43: Trans Reproductive Health, Programming Productivity, and Indigenous Storytelling

On April 17th 1964, Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly a plane solo around the world.  Lasting just under one month, Jerrie flew her plane “Charlie” nearly 37,000 km. Join us this month for amazing adventures of another sort. We’re delving into indigenous storytelling, trans reproductive health, and programming productivity – we’re excited to go on this nerd journey with all of you!

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi IG: @armin_mortazavi

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday April 17th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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This month:

1. Indigeneous Storytelling

Dallas Yellowfly

Indigenous storyteller Dallas Yellowfly brings Qwalena: The Wild Woman Who Steals Children to life in this unique theatrical multimedia storytelling presentation. The purpose of this presentation is to create awareness on the inter-generational impact of Indian residential schools. Qwalena is the allegorical creature that represents the Indian agents who stole Aboriginal children from their families and forced them into government funded Indian residential schools. Yellowfly’s own father was one of these children.

Bio: Indigenous storyteller Dallas Yellowfly is from the Siksika Nation (Blackfoot First Nation). Having been born and raised on Coast Salish, Sto:lo, territory he has been taught both coastal culture and plains culture from Elders. Dallas has been working in Aboriginal Education for 17 years. Using his experience in stand-up comedy and storytelling Dallas is presenting across the province focused on increasing awareness of Indigenous perspectives in education.

2. Programming Productivity

Ducky Sherwood

Especially in computer programming, there is common knowledge that productivity varies by more than an order of magnitude between different people. In this talk, I will show how that is utter bullshit. While I will not be able to magically make everybody an order of magnitude more productive at everything, I will show you a few research-proven techniques to make problem-solving faster, explain a little about the neuroscience behind it, and – perhaps most importantly – give you tools to think more productively about individual and team productivity.

Bio: Kaitlin Duck Sherwood has been interested in productivity for many years. She studied programmer productivity in the course of getting a MSc in computer science, and wrote the books Overcome Email Overload with Microsoft Outlook 2000 and 2002 and Overcome Email Overload with Eudora 5. Among her many jobs, she was a Senior Product Designer for the Open Source Application Foundation’s personal information manager project, and wrote an email program for a tablet computer project at Interval Research.

3.  Trans-Reproductive Health

A.J. Lowik

Join me in untangling the complicated relationships between sex, gender and reproduction where men can get pregnant, women can produce sperm, and non-binary people navigate menstruation, among other things – trans people lead rich reproductive lives and are using their bodies in ways that health care providers aren’t always equipped to handle. What does trans-inclusive reproductive health care look like? What are the obstacles for trans people who are navigating their gender identities and expressions, as well as their reproductive capacities and desires? When embodied reproductive experiences are affixed to specific bodies and assumed to belong to specific genders, we end up with gendered silos of health care delivery and service – and trans people’s reproductive health care needs are frequently overlooked and unmet. Let’s expand our understanding of reproductive justice to include trans people in all their complexities!

Bio: A.J. Lowik is a PhD Candidate with the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, where they study all facets of trans people’s reproductive lives from menstruation to abortion to lactation and chest-feeding. They teach Intro to Trans Studies, and help all kinds of organizations on their path towards trans-inclusion, including schools and teachers, reproductive and other health care providers, yoga studios and more. They are currently working on an edited collection called “Reproduction and Parenting Beyond the Binary,” which will highlight non-binary people’s experiences with reproduction, fertility, parenthood and family. A.J. loves board games, cats, and their cozy home with partner Michelle.

Nerd Nite v42. Orbital resonance, Science Through Storytelling, and Teaching Robots to Walk

Happy Nowruz! It is a new day. a day that if you were Persian you would be celebrating a new year. It’s a special day for many reasons, the Earth has tilted back towards the sun, and has hit equilibrium. Things are springing anew around us, it’s a time to get things growing in our lives, which for us here at Nerd Nite, means learning together. So no matter how you celebrate this day, let’s celebrate it together, because after all this is the 42nd edition of Nerd Nite so let’s seek the “The Answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything”.

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi IG: @armin_mortazavi

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday March 2oth; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Orbital Resonance

Christa Van Laerhoven

We generally think of planets (and the smaller stuff, too) as going about their orbits, minding their own business. In actuality, our Solar System is a giant interact-a-thon, as fellow planetary bodies perturb each other via gravity. I will talk about a kind of interaction called orbital resonance and a way to diagnose that this particular kind of interaction is happening. The cast celestial characters that will help me demonstrate these concepts includes Neptune and everyone’s favourite not-a-planet Pluto.

Bio: Christa Van Laerhoven is a valley girl from Agassiz and a postdoctoral fellow at UBC, studying what she likes to call ‘orbital shenanigans’ (how the orbits of planets, asteroids, and moons can change over time). She has a PhD from the Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona and a B.Sc. from UBC in Physics and Astronomy (Honours).

2. Science Through Storytelling

Kristi Charish

Ask any gamer who’s played the sci-fi video game series Mass Effect about the genophage and they will spin you a tale of a genetically engineered virus that devastates an entire species’ fertility, and then they’ll tell you of the mission they’re on to discover and distribute a cure. So if a video game can convince millions of gamers to engineer a vaccine and release it across the galaxy, why can’t we convince people on earth to vaccinate against measles and take their antibiotics? Are we speaking a different language? Living in an overlapping but parallel universe? Tonight we’ll talk about the power of the narrative and why it works so well. Video games, TV procedurals, films, and even our arch nemesis pseudoscience use the power of the narrative and we can too!

Bio: Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, an urban fantasy series about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS, an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing.

Twitter: @kristicharish

FB: http://www.facebook.com/KristiCharishAuthor

Website: http://www.kristicharish.com

Instagram: @charishkristi

3. How to Teach a Robot to Walk in Two Simple Steps

Glen Berseth

Moving around in our world is a very important skill. It allows us to get to the bar so we can order drinks, or get to the bathroom after too many trips to the bar. In my talk, I will first describe the hand-holding process needed to get a robot to take its first steps. After a robot can walk I will describe what comes next when a new robot parent sets his child free to explore in a simulated world.

Bio: Glen Berseth is a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia where he works in the Motion Control and Character Animation group. He received his BSc degree in Computer Science from York University in 2012 and his MSc from York University in 2014 for optimization and authoring crowd simulations. Glen is almost complete his PhD and will be starting a PostDoc at Berkeley where he will continue to force robots to do his bidding.

Nerd Nite Field Trip: #BCTECHSummit Sponsored by Unbounce

Does anyone remember “The Six Million Dollar Man” or the spin-off “The Bionic Woman? If not you probably have heard the catch phrase “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.” The show even has a sweet premise: “After a severely injured astronaut is rebuilt with nuclear powered limbs and implants, he serves as an intelligence agent.” !!! The problem though is that even if you have nostalgic feelings of this show as a kid, in today’s world it’s practically unwatchable. Technologies dreamed in stories back then rarely translated well to a live-action show or movie mainly because the fictional technologies were too far beyond real life technological capabilites. The Scientific-technical revolution from the 1940’s to the 1970’s laid the groundwork for some amazing science fiction, but only recently have some of these technologies started to become reality which is why the tech sector in society today has become so robust and exciting.

Nerd Nite is proud to go on a special field trip to the #BCTECHSummit sponsored by Unbounce, where we’ll hear from three tech nerds to share their stories! If you’re never been to Nerd Nite before, we’re short nerdy talks with drinks. It’s a casual learning and drinking environment!

Where: Unbounce (400-401 West Georgia St)

When: Tuesday March 12th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

 

1. The Crossroads Between Data & Baking

Claire Son

Claire Son is a born and raised Calgarian and made the move to Vancouver in 2015. She is the Data Analyst Lead here at Unbounce where she helps Unbouncers understand the impact of their work by uncovering data insights, all while spreading data best practices and knowledge company wide. Claire has been involved in a number of data projects ranging from deep dive analyses to enterprise data migrations and loves to empower people with data.

Bio: When Claire isn’t spending her time on a data problem she’s either travelling the world, playing video games or baking. Claire is an avid baker and recently joined the Pastry Team at Terra Breads.

2. Nonprofits: Why we love them, and hate them. (But mostly love them)

Najeed Kassam

The nonprofit sector is misunderstood and underappreciated. And while it’s important to ask questions and value accountability, our society has to understand how nonprofits operate to truly evaluate them. Join Nejeed Kassam, founder of Keela and the Better Canada Initiative, to discuss the nonprofit sector, its role in civil society, and the gap that exists between what most donors believe and the reality of nonprofit work.
We’ll even tackle the question: Should people who work in nonprofits be paid for their work? (Spoiler alert: absolutely.)

Bio: Najeed Kassam is the CEO and founder of Keela – an impact technology company, dedicated to empowering small non-profits with accessible software. He was educated at McGill University (B.A.) and Osgoode Hall Law School (JD). Called to the Bar in Ontario in 2015 and in British Columbia in 2017, Nejeed is also the founder of the Better Canada Initiative. He is the former Executive Director of both End Poverty Now and Conversations for Change. Nejeed is a global innovator with experience working for the United Nations and the Senate of Canada. He is the author of the book ‘High on Life’ (foreword written by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien) and the co-producer of the documentary, ‘Conversations for Change’. Nejeed sits on a number of start-up and non-profit advisory boards, has spoken at conferences around the world, and is currently a member of the Global Shapers Community (World Economic Forum) and a fellow at the Royal Society of the Arts in the UK.

3. On Being a Female Tech CEO

Maraym Sadeghi

When you think of tough nuts to crack in the CEO business world what comes to mind? Being a first-time CEO? Being a female CEO? Being a technical CEO? I’d like to share my experience of having fun combining all of them together. Saying any one of these things is difficult would be the understatement of the decade!. If you are a first-time CEO, not many will trust you. If you are a female, there are some prejudices you’ll face whether you like it or not. Coming from a technical background means you don’t have the business eye and training- but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it! Join me on my journey in discovering how it’s less about what you know (and more about what you don’t know) and how you plan to manage that so you can make your dreams come true!

Bio: In 2012, Maryam founded MetaOptima Technology Inc. in Vancouver, Canada, where MoleScope and DermEngine were developed for intelligent dermatology, smart skin imaging, analytics and management. The company was one of 10 that were shortlisted for the 2013 BCIC New Ventures Competition, and won a $40,000 Wavefront Wireless prize package. In 2014, Dr. Sadeghi also won the Venture Prize from Coast Capital Savings.

Recently, Maryam was appointed as a MITACS Research Council member, was credited as one of BC’s most influential women in BC Business Magazine, and her company was listed as a “Ready To Rocket” business in the area of digital health.

Since its development, MetaOptima has become one of the fastest growing digital health technology companies in Canada, with successful expansion into Australia. The company is continuing to extend its reach through expansion into the United States market, and empower a greater number of physicians and patients for better care outcomes.

Nerd Nite v.41 Animals in Science, Laugh Tracks, and the Chemistry of Cosmetics

Polar Vortex!? The interesting thing about the most banal thing to come in conversation, like the weather, is that it can still be an opportunity for good science communication. Sure you may have a dad or an uncle on Facebook that still doesn’t believe in global warming, but this is your time to shine and exercise your skills in sci-comm and patience. At Nerd Nite however you can let your hair down and know that you are with friends, and everyone (eventually) will know your name. Get in here for a fab February. This month!

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi IG: @armin_mortazavi

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday February 27th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Animals in Science

Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy

2017 saw the highest number of animals in Canadian science ever recorded: 4.4 million. This is despite that fact that a very small proportion (0-12%) of animal-based research translates into the creation of new drugs to treat the most important conditions of our time. This compelling talk will challenge audience members to rethink some of the often deeply held assumptions about the use of animals in research, testing and science education. It will beg the question: We can continue to use animals in science, but should we? *Note: no graphic images will be used*

Bio: Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy is a former neuroscientist who has spent her career getting to know animals better, on their terms. After retraining in animal behaviour, welfare, and ethics she now uses her science savvy to advocate for the advancement of science without suffering. Elisabeth is co-founder and executive director of the Animals in Science Policy Institute (AiSPI), a Vancouver-based national charity. She is an instructor at the University of British Columbia, an Advisor to both the Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods, and the Humane Education Coalition. She is part of the editorial team for the Alternatives to Laboratory Animals journal, and also gives national policy advice to the Canadian Council on Animal Care on a regular basis.

 

2. The Laugh Track Legacy

Robyn Fashler

Despite delivering “the best medicine”, Laugh Tracks have a pretty lousy reputation. With this talk, Robyn aims to refute this unjust impression. She will discuss the history, controversy, and significance of canned-laughs and explain why they deserve a hearty guffaw themselves.

Bio: Robyn makes her way selling office furniture and she is weirdly enthusiastic about it– seriously, “Task Seating” is one of her favourite topics. Beyond that, Robyn is a self-proclaimed comedy connoisseur and is mildly obsessed with old-school television. Naturally, she also has a fascination with laugh tracks. She hopes you will see their value as well.

 

3. Chemistry of Cosmetics

Dr. Emma Davy

The cosmetics industry is marketed towards women to reduce aging! Look younger! Have no pores! But cosmetics are poorly regulated, if at all. Why is something many of us use barely regulated in terms of ingredient listing and trasparency for consumers? In this talk I will discuss the narrative around the word “chemical”, especially as it relates to cosmetics. I will discuss ingredients and regulation of these products. And finally, I will look at cosmetics from a woman’s perspective – are they so poorly regulated because women’s health is taken less seriously than overall health?

Bio: Emma has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Victoria where she studied organometallic chemistry. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Catalysis Research and Innnovation, Emma landed at Quest University Canada where she has been for the last three years as a teaching fellow and faculty member in the physical sciences. Emma is a passionate chemical educator, podcast lover, boy-band scholar, and overall giant dork.

Nerd Nite v. 40 Radon, Prison Health and Becoming an Astronaut

Greetings Vancouver Nerds. We are now in MMXIX. What are we going to do this year? Yes, we. We want to learn with you, we want to laugh with you, we want to meet you. If you’ve been coming to Nerd Nite before you know that we actively pursue knowledge not from the ether but from you, the nerd community. We’ve already heard stories of people becoming friends and more at Nerd Nite, which only strenghthens our community. We have no objective but to learn, and laugh, and drink. If you see a fellow Nerd Niter on the street greet with them a LLAP sign, flash them your vampire stake tucked in your pants, so say we all. This month, fuck resolutions, let’s just be better citizens on this planet by getting smarter together. Get in here.

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi IG: @armin_mortazavi

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday January 23rd; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Radon

Anne-Marie Nicol 

Bio: Anne-Marie Nicol is an associate professor in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and a Knowledge Translation Scientist at the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH). Anne-Marie began her academic career in the social sciences at SFU (Communications BA) and then developed a strong interest in environmental and occupational health during her Master’s degree at York University (MES). She completed her PhD in Epidemiology at UBC. At SFU, she teaches Human Health Risk Assessment as well as Health Communication and Public Health Toxicology.

2. Becoming an Astronaut

Michael Koehle 

Bio: Michel is a Physician-Scientist and Associate Professor, practising Sport and Exercise Medicine – Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of British Columbia / Director of the Environmental Physiology Laboratory – University of British Columbia – My job is a mix of research, teaching and clinical medicine. Our research group’s main research area is studying the human adaptation to different environments.

3. Kate McLeod 

Prison Health

Bio: Kate joined the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education in September 2017. She is currently the evaluator on a 5-year project focused on participatory approaches to preventing sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections among federally incarcerated men in BC. Kate is pursuing her PhD at UBC in the School of Population and Public Health and is one of UBC’s Public Scholars.

Nerd Nite Solstice Spectacular

Happy Solstice Nerds! 2018 has been a wonderful one for Nerd Nite. On one hand we watched Kaylee take her science career to the next level by going to Sri Lanka, but we also got to see so many amazing co-hosts save Michael from making a fool of himself. So just like last year we’re inviting all of our speakers, and guest hosts back to our show to celebrate a year of nerdiness. We’re going to have a nice nerd time with them, and we’d like all of you to be there too. A few of them will be taking the stage to play POWERPOINT ROULETTE. They’ll be coming up to deliver short presentations they will have never seen before. Last year was a blast, and we have some spots left for eager audience members to play too! Email us at vancouver@nerdnite.com

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday December 19th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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Playing with us will be:

Dr. Carin Bondar – Sept speaker

Desiree Nielsen, RD – Feb speaker

Robin Coope – Feb speaker

Devyani Singh – May speaker

Mary Glasper – Nov speaker

We also are super excited to have You Tube scientist Kurits Baute with us to give a classic Nerd Nite talk!

Bio: Whimsical Scientist – I sealed myself in a DIY biodome, measured the world with my bike, and built a digital camera from scratch. Ⓥ, MSc, He/Him

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTRM8LE1g6UXrVZKwgw5oEA

Join us for a night of fun as we celebrate our amazing #nerdherd community!

Nerd Nite v.39: Tumors, Silk, and Art in Space

On Nov. 21st 1953, the 40-year-long hoax of the Piltdown Man ended when the British Museum revealed that it was a “perfectly executed and carefully prepared fraud.” The Piltdown forgery was essentially a recently deceased humanid head that was deformed by disease, and the lower jaw was replaced with that of an orangatan.

Now on Nov.21st 2018 you may find yourself out somewhere hearing a tale that may be as tall (or as small) as the Piltdown Man. Your initial reaction may be to shout it down, but if there’s anything that a good scientficially minded community knows is that the best way to shout down a tall tale, is to find the truth through evidence. Now on this particular day if you come to the Fox Cabaret you are unlikely to hear tales of the Piltdown Man, but you will find like-minded individuals that do share this philosophy of fact based evidence. By gathering together in a casual way over beers, and sharing stories of our passions, it’s our celebration of everything we hold dear: science, drinks, and good friends. Welcome to Nerd Nite.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday November 21st; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Modelling Tumours

Erin Marshall

Bio: Erin is a PhD student at the BC Cancer Research Centre who spends most of her time studying the genomes of lung tumours and figuring out why they exist in the first place. Though she loves the lab, she also enjoys running, hiking, and teaching kids about genetics. She is also a dedicated helicopter-cat-mom to Oliver.

2. Spider butts and spit glands: Adventures in working with Galleria mellonella silk

Mary Glasper 

Remember those plastic-eating worms in the news last year? I work with those! One summer, while working in an entomology lab, my supervisor asked, “Have you ever looked at Galleria silk? It’s really strong and they produce a TON of it.” Suddenly, a master’s thesis was born, where I investigated the properties of Galleria silk for its use in textiles. Galleria mellonella, a.k.a. the greater wax moth, is a pest of beehives and is also a popular model organism for the study of medically significant mammalian pathogens. In this presentation, I’ll show you how to collect, process, and characterize this silk as a textile fibre. Could it be a viable alternative to spider silk? Come and find out! Spoiler: I don’t feed them plastic.

Bio: Mary Glasper has been a fan of our many-legged friends and of fibres for as long as she can remember, and has professional experience in both Entomology and Textile Science. It’s only natural that she would combine both of her interests by studying how insects create fibres! She has a BSc in Biological Sciences & Human Ecology from the University of Alberta, and recently finished her MSc in Textile Science. Mary moved to Vancouver last winter and is now a Materials Developer at Arc’teryx Equipment.

3.  Painting on the Moon

Michael Markowsky

Back in 2008, Artist Michael Markowsky publicly announced his goal to stand on the surface of the moon and make a painting, by January 1st 2030.

In pursuit of that goal, he travelled to the North Pole in 2013 with the Royal Canadian Air Force and made landscape paintings outside in the -40oC weather, and then in 2014 became the first person to make drawings while flying faster than the speed of sound in a CF-18 “Hornet” jet plane. That project was documented in the 2015 film Markowsky Draws in a Fighter Plane (Directed by Michael Peterson).

Follow his project on Facebook @PaintOnTheMoon

#TheFlightHasJustBegun
#PaintOnTheMoon

Bio: Michael Markowsky is an award-winning artist and writer who makes drawings, paintings and books about the landscapes and people he meets while travelling around the world. As an official Canadian “War Artist,” he made drawings in an F-18 “Hornet” fighter jet while flying faster than the speed of sound, and was the first person to make a painting while standing at the North Pole.

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi

IG: armin.scientoonist

Nerd Nite v.38

In 1957, the month of October would change the world forever. On the 4th of that month Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit around planet Earth, our first artificial satellite. It orbited for three weeks among the heavens and in doing so ushered an era of human exploration of the cosmos. Does the month of October affect you in anyway? Do you think of the kids from October Sky and how Sputnik changed their lives? (Is Jake Gyllenhaal cute? Do we like him?) Perhaps you’re one that celebrates the lead up for all Hallows’ Eve? Perhaps we should heed the advice of the one Albert Einstein which on this day Oct.24th, and his theory of happiness, which he wrote on a napkin, was sold at an auction. It reads as follows:

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

With that to ponder we bring you another Nerd Nite, one which it’s co-founder Kaylee Byers makes her return. You think she’s going to talk about rats? Hell yeah. You think she’s going to tell us what she was up to in Sri Lanka? Hell to Sputnik yeah. But that’s just the start, as we have three amazing speakers to launch Nerd Nite back for another season. Let’s drink and science!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday October 24th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

NN38_eventbrite

1. More Than Words

Sadhvi Saxena

Imagine you want to say “I love you,” but you can’t actually speak the words. Imagine you have a gluten allergy, but you can’t read the ingredient list. Imagine that this happens all of the time, despite the fact that your intelligence, thoughts and consciousness are intact. Some stroke and brain injury survivors have to deal with this frustration everyday, because they have what is known as aphasia. Aphasia hinders one’s ability to speak, write and understand both written and verbal language. This talk will introduce the audience to the diversity of aphasia, it will discuss the brain and aphasia research from a clinical perspective, and it will delve into innovative methods for aphasia treatment.

Bio: Sadhvi is a shameless lover of broken brains. For 8 years, she has been researching brain injury, dementia, and the use of noninvasive brain stimulation to study and treat brain disorders. She also develops personalized, continued, and affordable rehabilitation for speech and cognition. She received her M.S. in Clinical Investigation from Boston University and her M.H.S at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

2. Cannabis

Emma Andrews

Bio: Natural Health + Cannabis Strategy Consultant, Educator & Speaker | New Product Development Professional (NPDP), Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN)

 

3. Learning the Hard Way: How the Brain Controls Movement in an Uncertain World

Amanda Bakkum

In a world that’s constantly changing, how is it that we are able to navigate our environment with relative ease? Well, our nervous system has an awesome ability to adapt how we move to the changing world around us, and it does so with seemingly little effort. It’s often only when we experience a significant change that affects or impairs our movement, that we become fully aware of how complex this system actually is. I will be discussing how the brain learns and adapts our movement to changes in the environment. And like most things in life, sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

Bio: Amanda completed her undergraduate and master’s degree in South Africa, where she specialized in physical rehabilitation and gained a great appreciation for the resilience of the human body. She later moved to Vancouver, with her dog, Dudley, to pursue her academic career aspirations at Simon Fraser University. Amanda’s chosen field for her PhD research is sensorimotor control and learning. She investigates the factors that affect how the human body adapts to our environment to gain a better understanding of how the brain learns.

While at SFU, Amanda has developed a passion for science communication and has subsequently started a neuroscience blog called Dudley Describes: Neuroscience in a Muttshell. Her blog describes basic neuroscience concepts using her dog, Dudley, to help make this field more accessible, fun and relatable to the general public. It also allows her to take copious amounts of pictures of her dog… for science, of course.

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi

IG: armin.scientoonist

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