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


Nerd Nite v.30

2017 is flying by! It’s our last standard Nerd Nite of the year, and we have a doozy for you. Let’s end this year with beer and science in our brains!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday November 22nd; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


1. Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing

Dr. Bill Gibson

Tonight he’ll be talking about the DNA testing you can get on yourself, without having trouble your poor, overworked family doc! Ever wanted to know if you are a carrier of Bloom syndrome, or what evil lurks in your gut microbiome, a.k.a. your poop? This talk will tell you how to find out. Because it’s sort of personalized medicine, or personalized sort-of medicine, individual results may vary.

Bio: Dr. William Gibson did not write Neuromancer, Johnny Mnemonic or The Peripheral. (Maybe try the Vancouver Writer’s Fest?) Anyway, our Nerd Nite guest did discover a whole genetic disease, and made sure the PhD student got top billing to boot! Check out “Cohen-Gibson syndrome” at Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. Usually he works at the Provincial Medical Genetics Program and tries to solve other genetic and epigenetic diseases, including overgrowth, diabetes, lupus and brain aneurysms. Occasionally he messes up Canadian history in podcast format.

2. WTF is Science Illustration

Jen Burgess

Science and art have been fundamentally linked throughout history, but these days, artists and scientists seem to have retreated into separate camps. What happened? Science and art still need each other, and science illustrators are here to bridge the gap. Yet many people aren’t aware this career path, or this professional service, exists. What kind of training do science illustrators receive (or need to pursue)? How can illustrations help make modern science more accessible? When is an illustration preferable to a photograph? How can a scientist find an illustrator? What’s the process like of working together? Let’s answer some of these questions and navigate some familiar themes as we explore how science and art can relearn to coexist in the modern era.

Jen Burgess is a freelance scientific illustrator based in Vancouver. She has a unique confluence of background and skill sets that suit her incredibly niche career choice, including but not limited to: a BSc in geography from the University of Victoria (with upper-level biology electives), formal training in fine art techniques from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and training as a California naturalist at University of California Santa Cruz. All this lead up to her pursuit of a graduate certificate in science illustration at California State University Monterey Bay in 2015. She threw herself into this program wholeheartedly and has been freelancing at home in Vancouver ever since. Not-so-coincidentally, on November 24 Jen will be having an art opening at Creative Coworkers from 5-8pm; more details in the talk.

(Twitter: @jenburgessart)

3.  “Genetic Counselling”

Kennedy Borle

This talk is to spread awareness about the field of genetic counselling, which not so coincidentally falls within Genetic Counselling Awareness Week! When you think of “genetic counselling” maybe your brain feels overwhelmed because those words together seem like an oxymoron. Maybe you immediately think of Gattaca and are weary and a little bit excited, or maybe you’re just outright confused because you’ve never heard of genetic counselling. We will be talking about what genetic counselling is, clearing up misconceptions about genetics and genetic counselling, discussing situations where genetic counsellors are important, and spreading awareness about the wonderful and ever expanding field.

Bio: Kennedy Borle, Stephanie Chieffo, Vanessa Di Gioacchino, Cara Inglese, Jill Madden, and Eugene Wong are the 2018 graduating class of UBC’s Masters of Genetic Counselling Program. In addition to being the six best friends that anyone could ever have, they are hard working graduate students with a passion for genetics and making a difference in the lives of patients and their families.

Photos by: Stephanie Chan

Nerd Nite v. 29

Oh hi. Nerd Nite here. Kaylee and Michael. Guess what? We want to see you and talk some nerdy shit with you. I know maybe we saw you at Et Al last month (which was amazing), maybe we saw you at our exclusive free math event at Science World (super amazing). We need to get serious about our nerding out here though. It’s October which is one of our favourite months of the year, and even if you’re in school or not, it’s time to learn about some nerdy stuff with beer. Let’s kick this scholastic year in gear. We can’t wait to see you.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday October 25th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


1. Living in the Age of Uprisings

Serbulent Turan

The first decade of 2000 has witnessed a peak in the number of uprisings throughout the globe the likes of which were seen only in 3 other historical instances in the last three centuries. We are witnessing a global dissatisfaction with economic injustices, failure of political systems – across all systems, and increasing demands for rights and justice. On the other hand, we also see a global turn towards authoritarian leaders and practices, threatening long established democracies and the rights and freedoms associated with these. These two are, of course, connected. But what are we seeing and what should we expect from such an age of uncertainty?

Serbulent Turan is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at UBC where he also teaches on Democracy, Revolutions, and Political Theory. His research focuses on the constitution of the modern state and how states engender obedience in their populations. Originally from Turkey, he’s moved to Canada 10 years ago after spending some time in Europe.


2. Pufferfish, Neat!

Emilie Stump

The over 180 species of smooth pufferfishes (Tetraodontidae) are biologically fascinating fishes are best known their arsenal of defenses, including inflatable bodies, parrot-like beaks, and skin laced with deadly neurotoxins. Pufferfish, Neat! will showcase the diversity of pufferfishes, and share pufferfish stories from around the world and through time. Whether as delicacies worth dying for, or as the key ingredient in Haitian zombie powder, or as the inspiration for the largest steel framework statue in the world, pufferfishes have a rich and fascinating cultural history spanning millennia. Given their status as high-value delicacies, these fishes are also vulnerable to overfishing in many parts of their range.

Emilie Stump is a marine ecologist with a life-long passion for fishes. She has worked closely with marine fishes since her first job in high school at a locally-owned aquarium store. Trained and mentored by ichthyologists and conservationists, she has studied fishes in captive and wild settings from the coral reefs of Florida to fish markets in Gabon, and facilitated global initiatives to advance marine conservation. Additionally, Emilie’s scientific illustration work has been commissioned by professionals and institutions around the world. Emilie is currently completing her MSc at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

3. Buffy the straight-ish vampire (s)layer: Buffy, Willow, and Queer Sexualities in the Media

Hélène Frohard-Dourlent

This talk explores the portrayal of queer sexualities in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer by looking specifically at the character of Willow as well as Buffy (Season 8 comic books spoiler alert: turns out Buffy is also a bit flexible in the heterosexual department…). Buffy is often lauded as a progressive and feminist show, but a close look at its characters and storylines reveal many tensions and contradictions when it comes to sexuality. I explore these complexities and the challenges of queer representationsby discussing Willow and Tara as lesbian role-models for baby queers (hi!), bisexual erasure, and heteroflexibility.

Hélène Frohard-Dourlent (they/them or she/her) credits Buffy for teaching them English and making them queer, as any good TV show should. Hélène has published several articles on Buffy and recently co-edited a special issue of Slayage (the journal of Whedon Studies) on Queering the Whedonverses. Hélène has also spent many delightful years doing research on gender and sexual diversity in the fields of education and health, and even got a PhD in Sociology out of it. Hélène currently works for UBC within the Student Diversity Initiative

Fractions and ratios and proportions, oh my! – Nerd Nite at Science World

Nerd Nite is going on a field trip once again! This time at Science World! To celebrate the opening of the new exhibit “Math Moves”, we’ll have three talks on different perspectives on Math, but best of all, IT’S FREE.

We’ll have drinks for sale, and time to peruse the gallery, but you’ll need to reserve a ticket, and they’ll be in high demand with limited capacity, so don’t miss out!

Where: Telus Wold of Science

When: Wednesday September 27th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite


Sophie Johns – “The Contagious Cancer Threatening Tasmanian Devils with Extinction and How Mathematics Can Help”

Think back to your last mathematics class, you might have been left wondering how this information would possibly help you in adult life. You may be surprised how often mathematics is used to advise decision makers and how it is being used to better understand the world around us. For instance, epidemiology is an area of mathematics dedicated to understanding diseases. These models can be used to uncover many aspects of diseases such as – how they spread, immunisation requirements, and even how host and diseases evolve. Take the Tasmanian Devil for example. This Australian marsupial is being threatened with extinction by a transmissible cancer. The understanding and perspective provided by mathematical models of this disease will help conservation efforts and hopefully save the species from the brink of extinction.

Sophie Johns is in her first year of a biology PhD. Rather than doing laboratory experiments or field research, Sophie is using mathematics to explore evolutionary and ecological dynamics. Her current PhD project is on the Tasmanian Devil’s facial tumour disease, a rare form of transmissible cancer. She’s based at the Australian National University but is current on exchange with Sally Otto at the University of British Columbia.


Nikki Berreth – “Patterns of Choice”

Sometimes it can feel impossible to make a decision. However, most of our choices are so simple, they are almost instinctual: like choosing a bathroom stall, crossing the road or picking a partner! Learn more about the mathematical patterns behind the choices we make.

Nikki Berreth is an experienced science communicator and educator working in Vancouver, BC. When she is not entertaining the masses at with math and science, she is nerding out over new media for sharing science. Her most current endeavour – crocheted fractal patterns!


Mark MacLean

Mark MacLean is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia and is interested in how we learn to understand mathematics. Professor MacLean is the a co-creator of UBC’s Science One Program and is the creator of animated children’s stories inspired by mathematics found in Aboriginal storytelling. In recognition of his contributions to mathematics education in Canada, Professor MacLean was awarded the Adrien Pouliot Award in 2015.

et al. Too!: The Ultimate Science Bar Night – Sold Out!

Et Al Too!: The Ultimate Bar Science Night

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday September 20th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: Eventbrite

Anecdotal Evidence + Cafe Scientifique + Curiosity Collider + Nerd Nite + Science Slam

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, Anecdotal Evidence a science based storytelling show, Curiosity Collider which creates events that bring together artists and scientists, as well as Cafe Scientifique the long running series which focuses on one single speaker to engage in discussions while at the bar, and just this past we have been introduced to Science Slam, a poetry slam for scientists!

September 20th at the Fox Cabaret, all five institutions will team for the ultimate bar science night, Et al. This show is one night only, and not to be missed, and plus it’s Science Literacy Week to boot! Last year this event sold out very quickly, so don’t miss out!


Dr. Scott Sampson

Scott Sampson is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for connecting people with nature. He currently serves as president and CEO of Science World British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., where much of his work focuses on rethinking 21st Century cities as places where people and nature thrive.

Nerd Nite Summer Break!

Nerd Nite is taking a brief hiatus over July and August. We’ll be back in September for more Nerdy fun. In the meantime, stay connected on Facebook for updates on lots of other Nerdy events going on in Vancouver throughout the summer!

Nerd Nite v28 – Sharks, Beavers, and Cartoon Therapy

It seems like forever since we’ve seen you! The Fox plumbing has been sorted out and we have a sweet send off before we take a summer break. We’ve got lots to celebrate! It’s Canada’s 150 plus anniversary so we have a classic beaver talk, it’s men’s mental health month so we’ve got a talk on that, plus we’re also going to kick off the YVR Food Fest, and as an added bonus your ticket will be good to stay for the party which starts right after Nerd Nite at the Fox!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday, June 28th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: online


Poster image by: Armin Mortazavi
Instagram: @armin.scientoonist

Photos by: Stephanie Chan

1. Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From a Shark

David Shiffmann 

Learn about the wonderful world of sharks and rays from marine biologist Dr. David Shiffman! David has interacted with thousands of sharks of more than 50 species all over the world. In this talk, he’ll share fun facts about these amazing animals, and share lessons learned from his dream job.

Bio: Dr. David Shiffman is a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Simon Fraser University, where his research focuses on the sustainability of Canadian shark fisheries. He is also an award winning science communicator who has written about sharks for the Washington Post, Scientific American, and other outlets. Follow him on twitter @WhySharksMatter

2. Cartoon Therapy

Armin Mortazavi 

3. Beavers

Lesley Fox

Move over Captain America, Wonder Woman and Spiderman. Beavers are the true superheroes. They clean water, create and maintain vital wetlands, prevent drought, change landscapes and can even build dams so large you can see them from space (actually, that story got blown out of proportion – but the dam was huge). Beavers are also furry, family-oriented and adorable. Sadly, they’re also killed by the thousands for their fur and because some people consider them to be a “nuisance”. Why is there a disconnect between what we know about beavers and how we treat them? What solutions exist to prevent conflict so beavers can exercise their superpowers without interfering with people, and vice versa? Discover the incredible life of beavers, the role they play in our ecosystems, and how we can all help them realize their true place among our favourite superheroes.

Bio: Lesley Fox is the Executive Director of The Fur-Bearers, a national non-profit organization dedicating to protecting fur-bearing animals in the wild and confinement. She is also a certified Humane Education Specialist through the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE), and graduated with honours from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Public Relations, Marketing Communications and Non-Profit Management. Lesley lives in Vancouver and enjoys reading and volunteering in her spare time.

Nerd Nite v.27

You didn’t think we were going to forget about April did you? Well we had a little issue with some plumbing at the Fox, so we’re having a special beginning of the month Nerd Nite! We have an amazing lineup once again including some fun prizes and special appearances! Limited early nerd tickets are available, so get on it!

Featuring special appearance by:Carson Kivari, winner of March edition of Science Slam!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday, May 2nd; Doors @ 7

Tickets: online

Poster image by: Armin Mortazavi
Instagram: @armin.scientoonist

Photos by:
Music by: DJ Bürger

#1. Big stuff from small stuff: Nanomaterials and their applications

Bonnie Gray

Bio: Dr. Bonnie Gray Ph.D, is a Professor at the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University.


#2. Burlesque

Burgundy Brixx 

Bio: Burgundy Brixx (aka Kyrst Hogan) is a professional singer, dancer, actress, comedienne and neo-burlesque artist. She practices these skills both individually and merged to create neo-cabaret performance art. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with a Minor in Dance.

#3. I love dead things… and you can too!

Nicole Balsdon 

Natural history museums are stuffed to the gills with strange creatures, crumbling papers, dark corners, and of course, dead things. Why do we have buildings full of this stuff, and where do they come from? Together, we will embrace the macabre mystique of cabinets of curiosities, and even get to touch real museum objects, so that the amazing stories of science can unfold, right under your fingertips.”

Bio: Nicole Balsdon is the Education & Outreach Coordinator at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum. She is passionate about science communication, museums, program evaluations, and lifelong learning!

Nerd Nite v26

The Earth is equalizing. We all know March marks the Equinox, this year it is March 20th, but perhaps you were one of those geeks that loved staring at sunrise and sunset tables, and realized that the equinox doesn’t correlate with a day of equal day and equal night. Do you remember the day that you figured this out, that it was your latitude on Earth that determined which day brought equal day and night, which we now call Equilux (for Vancouverites it’s March 17th)? If you do remember, or perhaps you remember when someone shared that information with you, or maybe you just learned it now. Do you remember that feeling when you did? That excitement, and giddy shake you get when you learn something cool? There is a place where you can go and nerd out with weird, wonderful, nerdy tidbits to share, learn and help you feel that feeling which we call “The Nerdering”. That place is called Nerd Nite.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday, March 29th; Doors @ 7

Tickets: online

Poster image by: Armin Mortazavi @armin.scientoonist
Photos by:
Music by: DJ Bürger

This month’s speakers:

Jared Stang -“Modern Physics and Past Regrets: Practical Time Travel Tips

The seasons change, years pass by, and time pushes us inexorably forward. Wouldn’t it be nice to slow it all down and take a break from the constant march toward the future—or even go back? Take a minute to find out how Einstein showed that the reality of time may be more personal than you think.

Bio: Jared Stang is a researcher and instructor at UBC and an instructor at Langara College. He spent years solving equations on his computer as a student at UBC, and eventually received his PhD in theoretical physics. Now, Jared spends his time teaching, studying how people learn physics, and wondering how we can help people overcome their acute fear of what he believes is a friendly and interesting subject. Also, he likes learning new things, and can sort of pretty much juggle.

Paige Frewer – “Gender Peformance”

Paige “Ponyboy” Frewer is a gender fluid glam king and the producer-host of Man Up, a drag show and queer dance party that is celebrating its 9th anniversary this month. Paige studied Environmental Science and Dialogue at SFU.

Scott Pownall – “CRISPR Bacon and Fun Things with Genome Editing”

Hailed as the biggest biotech breakthrough of the century, scientists have co-opted the CRISPR microbial immunity system for use in genome editing. Sixty four years after the discovery of the structure of DNA, CRISPR gene editing is causing a major upheaval in biomedical research and it’s discovery has lead to a gargantuan patent war at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Let’s explore CRISPR, what it is and where are we going with it.

Bio: Scott Pownall is a scientist, biohacker and entrepreneur who is passionate about breaking down the barriers people face when trying to engage with DNA technologies. In June of 2015, with the help of an awesome bunch of citizen scientists, he co-founded Open Science Network; a BC incorporated non-profit society, and established Vancouver’s first community biolab. He has a lifelong passion and curiosity for the world around him particularly in the areas of biology. In the early 1980s he switched focus from electronics engineering to studying biotechnology after reading an article in the Melbourne Age on the then new Gene Machines. This lead him to complete his doctoral research in Genetics from the University of British Columbia. His academic research focus was on (old-school) genome editing in mice. Scott received numerous awards and scholarships including from the Australian Society of Microbiologists, the Canadian Arthritis Society, the Medical Research Council of Canada and the National Cancer Institute of Canada. He participated in the first human genome jamboree at Celera – the company that sequenced the human genome.