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

nerd nite39_eventbrite

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


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


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

et al. III The Ultimate Bar Science Night Returns!

Curiosity Collider + Nerd Nite Vancouver + Science Slam Canada join to celebrate Science Literacy Week

Special Guest talk by Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist with a Twist!

When: September 18th, Doors @ 6:30

Where: The Rio Theatre

Tickets: Eventbrite


You like science? You like drinking while sciencing? In Vancouver there are many options to get educated and inspired through science, art, and culture in a casual bar setting outside of universities. There’s Nerd Nite which focuses on nerdy lectures in the Fox Cabaret, Curiosity Collider which creates events that bring together artists and scientists, and Science Slam, a poetry slam-inspired science communication competition!

In this third installment of” et al.”, we’re making the show bigger than ever. We want people to know all about the bar science nights in Vancouver, but we also want to connect all you nerds together as we build this community. We encourage you to COME DRESSED AS YOUR FAVOURITE SCIENTIST. We will give away prizes to the best costumes, plus it’s a great ice breaker. We’re also encouraging science based organizations to get involved in the show by promoting your institution. Contact us at if your science organization would like to contribute to the show with some giveaways, you will get a free ticket, if you don’t have anything to give away, contact us anyway, we want this to be a celebration of science nights in Vancouver!

Dr. Carin Bondar is a biologist, author and philosopher. Bondar is author of the books Wild Sex and Wild Moms (Pegasus). She is writer and host of online series based on her books (Wild Sex and Wild Moms) which have garnered over 100,000,000 views.  Her TED talk on the subject has nearly 3 million views.  She is host of several TV series including Worlds Oddest Animal Couples (Animal Planet, Netflix), Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World (Discovery World HD, National Geographic) and Outrageous Acts of Science (The Science Channel).  Bondar is an adventurer and explorer, having discovered 11 new species of beetles and snails in the remote jungles of Borneo.  Bondar is also a mom of 4 kids, two boys and two girls.

Curiosity Collider Art Science Foundation promotes interdisciplinary collaborations that capture natural human curiosity. At the intersection of art, culture, technology, and humanity are innovative ways to communicate the daily relevance of science. Though exhibitions, performance events and our quarterly speaker event, the Collider Cafe we help create new ways to experience science.

In our opinion, there has never been a better time to be a Nerd! Nerd Nite is an event which is currently held in over 60 cities worldwide! The formula for each Nerd Nite is pretty standard – 20 minute presentations from three presenters each night, in a laid-back environment with lots to learn, and lots to drink!

Science Slam YVR is a community outreach organization committed to supporting and promoting science communication in Vancouver. Our Science Slams are informal competitions that bring together researchers, students, educators, and communicators to share interesting science in creative ways. Every event is different, with talks, poems, songs, dances, and unexpected surprises. Our only two rules? Each slammer has 5 minutes, and no slideshows are allowed! Slammers come to share their science, and the judges and audience decide their fate. Who will take away the title of Science Slam champion?

Nerd Nite v.37

Well here we are, the planet is tilting back towards the sun, and lo and behold here in our north-west corner of the continent it’s actually warming the weather. Granted there is that thing that’s warming the entire planet, but as good science communicators we know there’s a big difference between weather and climate right? In this month of June, named for the Roman God Juno, we have our final Nerd Nite before we take our summer hiatus. This month we have one of UBC’s top instructors, zoologist Greg Bole co-hosting with Michael on the topics of Quantum Computing, Science Communication, and Planet Formation. We’re hitting science hard this month, but this is no university lecture, this is science with beer and friends, get in here!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday June 20th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

This month we feature:

1. Nik Hartman- “Quantum Computing”

2. David Ng – “Science Communication”

3. Nienke Van Der Marel – “Planet Formation”

Nerd Nite v. 36

May the Twenty-Third Be With Us! And it will be with us to celebrate all the nerdy things that you hold dear. This month we have enlisted the talents of another top-notch host who has been putting on amazing gender bending shows in this city including Man Up! They graced the Nerd Nite stage last year to talk about Gender Peformance, now they help Michael bring us into the cat days of spring. Join us, maybe dress your gender bending best!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday May 23rd; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Tenure?

Jake Lever

With the rise of AI, will the robots replace graduate students and one day become professors? Could they be making the discoveries of tomorrow in science and health care? I’ll be talking about how computers process language, whether they can understand it and what this might mean for the future.

Bio: Jake is a UBC PhD student in Bioinformatics at the Genome Sciences Centre. He spends his time teaching computers to read papers so his colleagues don’t need to read as many. This helps to find the meaning of mutations in cancer and guide treatments. He still thinks that Perfect Dark is the greatest game ever made.

2. History of Drag

Nadine Boulay

Bio: Nadine Boulay is a PhD student at Simon Fraser University in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Researcher of queer history, amateur at all things digital humanities, oral historian, and doctoral candidate living on unceded Coast Salish territories.

3. Conservation Finance

Devyani Kumari

Bio: Devyani is a Ph.D. candidate in Forest Resource Management at the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the intersection of household energy access, climate change, forest sustainability, and payments for ecosystem services. Devyani is passionate about working on science-policy issues and seeing an impact on local communities worldwide.

Nerd Nite v.35

Greetings nerdlings, we’re back this month with so much fun stuff. Kaylee is still in Sri Lanka escaping giant spiders and other death traps, but local DJ impresario and bon vivant Trevor Risk is stepping up to not only co-host with Michael this month but also DJ the night. If you were at last Nerd Nite you learned about the history of Nerd Nite speaker gender ratios and how it’s at 48% female even though the population of Vancouver is 51% female, so this month we have three amazing female nerds to nerd out with us including one that is going to talk about ratios. So come with a nerd friend, or come solo and meet new nerd friends, we need you!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday April 25th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


This month we feature:

1. Chemistry

Chantal Mustoe

Bio: Chantal is a PhD student at UBC in the Department of Chemistry. She loves chemistry, spectroscopy, and animals. Also the ChemEditor and part of the and outreach teams. Occasionally found chlorinated in a local pool.

2.  Ratios

Lisa Christiansen

Bio: Lisa is the On the Coast traffic and music reporter on CBC Radio One Vancouver. She is a former Polaris Music Prize grand juror and host of CBC Radio 3’s Appetite for Distraction. She is the co-host of the podcast Pop This: Lover of bad pop and good metal.


3. The Deep ‘Cities of Glass’ in Howe Sound

Sheila Byers

About 30 years ago, scientists were astounded by the discovery of glass sponge reefs off Haida Gwaii in northern BC. Glass sponges are filter-feeding marine animals with skeletons made almost entirely of glass, but they were thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago. More recently, glass sponge reefs have been discovered and mapped in Howe Sound by the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society. Dive to the depths of Howe Sound with Sheila to learn about these fragile reefs, their unique ecosystem, ecological services and why they need to be protected.

Bio: Sheila is a registered professional biologist, marine biologist and Museum Interpreter at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. She is the past President and a current Director of the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society that strives for the establishment of marine sanctuaries to protect marine life, with the present focus on the protection of the glass sponge reef ecosystems in Howe Sound.

Nerd Nite v.34

It’s Springtime for Nerds! It’s the time of equality, not only for the Earth as we reach equinox, but also for our species as it’s National Women’s Month. This means we get to nerd out about our favourite women scientists with our favourite women nerds, but it’s also Music Therapy month! So this month we honour our women nerds, and have an amazing music therapy nerd to serenade us through this earthly time of equality, and hopefully get us some serenity having to deal with a lost hour due to Daylight Saving Time (don’t get Michael started on how much he dislikes human organization of time).

This month we’ve also got über nerd Nicole Balsdon from the Beaty Biodiversity Museum to make sure Michael doesn’t talk about Daylight Saving Time, but more imporantly to co-host three amazing talks!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday March 21st; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite

 nerd nite 34

1. Saving the World with Brewer’s Yeast

Karissa Milbury

We all love yeast: from beer to bread, kombucha to chocolate, and even our beloved coffee, yeast are the secret behind all the best parts of life. But did you know that humans and yeast have also teamed up in the search for better cancer therapies? We’ll take a look at how scientists use brewer’s yeast to delve into the mysteries of how our own cells function, and touch more broadly on how geneticists use model organisms (like yeast) to untangle the genetic code. Forget dogs; yeast are man’s — and woman’s! — best friend.

Bio: Karissa Milbury holds a B.Sc. (Hon) from Dalhousie University in Halifax, and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Genome Science & Technology program at the University of British Columbia. She carries out her research in the Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Research Centre under the supervision of Dr. Peter Stirling. She is also a UBC Public Scholar and member of the Vancouver SciCATs.

2. Music Therapy

Carol Wiedemann

Bio: Carol has been a music therapist and musician in Vancouver for over 15 years. In addition to her music therapy position at BC Children’s Hospital, Carol is Coordinator of Music Therapy for Vancouver Native Health Society and Coordinator of the Bandwagon Projects.


3. Surviving the Flood

Dr. Simon Donner

Come learn about the Pacific Island country of Kiribati’s struggle against sea-level rise. Though Kiribati faces an existential threat, its islands and its people are more resilient than you might think.

Bio: Simon Donner is an Associate Professor of Climatology at the University of British Columbia and has been studying climate change in the Pacific Islands since 2005. He won third place at the 1985 Metro Toronto Science Fair for his groundbreaking analysis of the aerodynamics of paper airlines.

Nerd Nite v.33

We’re coming off our biggest Nerd Nite yet, last month’s sold out show was a doozy. So much machine learning, and Dr. Who anecdotes, not to mention all the exoplanets we all discovered since then right? This month we’re bringing back some heavy nerd hitters, but mostly it’s the month for us to focus on what’s really important. Loving our fellow nerds, so come meet a new nerd, and bring some ideas to share!

This month we’re got the amazing Dr. Jennifer Gardy to co-host three amazing talks!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday February 21st; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.10.39 PM

1.  Environmental Toxicology

Marianna DiMauro and Kate Mill

Bio: Marianna DiMauro is a Master’s student at Simon Fraser University in the resource and environmental management program, under the supervision of Dr. Frank Gobas. Currently, she is working on a bioconcentration study as part of a larger initiative to test the applicability of in-vitro (test tube) tests and extrapolation models for predicting bioaccumulation of chemicals in fish.

Kate is in the Master’s of Environmental Toxicology program at Simon Fraser University studying the lethal and sub lethal effects of anti-sea lice pesticides on non target organisms, under the supervision of Dr. Chris Kennedy.

2.  Everybody Toots, But Why?

Desiree Nielsen, RD

A look into where gas comes from…that plays into the larger topic of gut microbiota and how food choices impact the microbiota.

Bio: Desiree is a registered dietitian, author and ambassador for the good (for you) life. She is the host of The Urban Vegetarian, a new vegetarian cooking show on Gusto TV.

3. Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Robin Coope 

Bio: Robin Coope is the Instrumentation Group Leader at the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and has been in the genomics field since 2000. In this position Dr. Coope is responsible for evaluating new instrumentation as well as designing de-novo solutions. He holds a BASc and MASc in Engineering Physics and a PhD in Physics from the University of British Columbia.

Nerd Nite v.32

What are you curious about this year? Here at Nerd Nite we are going to delve deep into the curiosities of all the diverse nerds that we have living in this country. We want to keep growing, and learning with you!

While Kaylee is away till Fall, we will be having guest hosts that will bring their own perspectives to each month, helping shape the curation of our speakers. This month we’re delighted to announce Educator, Improvisor, and former Nerd Nite speaker Amy Shostak will be co-hosting with Michael!

This month we have three amazing speakers, let’s start this year off right!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday January 24th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


1. Machine Learning AKA When Robots Attack/Speak/Recognize Cats/Drive Cars

Curt Da Silva 

Bio: Curt is a recent PhD graduate from the University of British Columbia in Applied Mathematics. He is a data scientist with a strong mathematical background and extensive experience with machine learning and large-scale optimization. He’s passionate about turning cutting edge research methods into scalable and well-designed software and providing adept and accurate data-driven analysis. His PhD thesis work has been in the areas of tensor completion, composite-convex optimization, and software design for large-scale inverse problems.

2. Dr. Who

Rachel Talalay 

Bio: Rachel Talalay is a British-American film and television director and producer. She is also a University of British Columbia film professor. She has directed seven episodes of Dr. Who to date including “Twice Upon a Time” the premiere of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Dr. Who.

3. A History of Planet-Hunting (And How You Can Be a Part of It)

Michelle Kunimoto

This talk covers the past, present, and future of hunting for planets – within our own Solar System and beyond! Discoveries of exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System) have exploded over the last couple decades, and exoplanets have quickly become the Hot Topic of Astronomy today. Anyone can take part in the hunt – even you, from your comfort of your own home. I’ll be introducing you to how, and share my own independent search for planets as an undergraduate.

Bio: Michelle Kunimoto is a Star-Trek-inspired PhD student at UBC in Astronomy, under the supervision of Dr. Jaymie Matthews. Her exoplanet candidate discoveries as an undergraduate landed her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Science, and she continues to independently search for planets to this day.

Nerd Nite v. 31 Solstice

We made it everyone! We’ve wrapped another amazing year, and we want to see you all before the end of it! We’ve invited all of our speakers from 2017 to celebrate with us, and we want to give you all a chance to continue to nerd out with them over drinks. Plus it’s Kaylee’s last Nerd Nite for a while. So let’s get her wasted!

For this year’s solstice party we also want you up on our stage to play Powerpoint Kareoke!

The rules of the game are as follows: you go on stage and give a talk to a random powerpoint presentation that has been curated to show 20 slides that randomly switch every 20 seconds. There will be lots of prizes and shenanigans!

Send us an email if you’d like to sign up!

As always we can’t have a Nerd Nite without some learning so we’ve got a featured classic Nerd Nite talk!:

Dr. Jennifer Gardy – Canada Research Chair in Public Health Genomics, MSFHR Scholar, UBC School of Population and Public Health, BC Centre for Disease Control

Confirmed past Nerd Nite speakers that will be in attendance and hopefully on stage playing PPT Kareoke!

Dr. David Shiffman (Sharks)

Nicole Balsdon (Biodiversity)

Armin Mortazavi (Sciencetooning)

Jared Stang (Time Travel)

Hélène Frohard-Dourlent (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday December 20th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite