Nerd Nite Vancouver v17

On February 12th, 1809 Charles R Darwin was born in a place just called “The Mount”. Mr. Darwin is most famous for having stinky feet, being a huge backgammon nerd, and being very interested in nipples. He wrote a few books, some that were read more than others, but since Mr. Darwin was such a huge nerd, and museum nerd we will celebrate his life at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC! All the talks will be held underneath the large blue whale, and admission will include access to the awesome Beaty Museusm exhibits! There will be a Darwin Cake contest as well if you get there early. Check out the photos from last year!

Where: Beaty Biodiversity Museum

When: Friday February 12th, Darwin Cake Competition 4:30; Doors and Drinks @ 6:30; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: $9 online


Photos by:

#1 The hidden lives of galaxies

Dr. Laura Ferrarese

When peering into the cosmos, astronomers can only gather instantaneous snapshots of celestial objects whose evolution — with rare exceptions — unfolds on timescales far too long to be probed within a human lifetime. To complicate things further, what our instruments can actually “see” adds up to less than 5% of the matter/energy content of the Universe. Take galaxies, for instance: with their evolution controlled by black holes and dark matter, neither of which our instruments can probe directly, there is much more than meets the eye! This lecture will focus on how galaxies are transformed throughout cosmic times, how they interact with each other and with the environment in which they live, and how the 5% we can see can tell us about the 95% we cannot see.

Bio: Dr. Ferrarese is an internationally recognised leader in galaxy dynamics and scaling relations, supermassive black holes, active galactic nuclei, and the  extragalactic distance scale. Her seminal work on the relationship between the masses of supermassive black holes and the stellar velocity dispersions of the bulges in their host galaxies has led to the realization that black holes play a very important role in the evolution of galaxies. Dr. Ferrarese works for the National Research Council of Canada, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophisics Program, in Victoria, BC.

#2 Seductive Spiders

Dr. Wayne Maddison

Bio: After discovering the charms of spiders as a teenager, Dr. Wayne Maddison pursued them through studies at the University of Toronto and then Harvard University.  He has discovered many species new to science in field work around the world, and brought them back to the lab to reconstruct their evolutionary relationships.  He is widely known for his work on computational methods to interpret evolutionary history.  He is Professor and Canada Research Chair at UBC, Director of the Spencer Entomological Collection of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.”

#3 Can Darwin Help Us Save the Planet

Dr. Arne Mooers

Darwinian evolution has produced a lot of oddities through the ages.  And here’s a conundrum: conservation biologists tell us we need to save biodiversity in order to save ourselves – but all of it? Even the boring bits?  Even the weird stuff?  How do we prioritize?  How do we get anyone to care about any of it, really?  These are actually pretty serious questions, and perhaps Darwinian evolution offers a partial answer.  If we are serious about conserving biodiversity, then we are serious about conserving Darwin’s Tree of Life.  I will explain the reasoning behind this, introduce folks to bits of biodiversity that contribute a lot to this Tree (some of it pretty odd, for sure), and see if you agree or disagree with a call to arms to save the Fuglies.

Bio: Arne Mooers is a pretty strait-laced biology professor at Simon Fraser University.  An Azimov-loving Sci Fi child nerd whose aspiration at age 10 was to win the Nobel prize, Arne tried very hard to be cool in high school, and so pretended he was a jock – which was ridiculous, because he was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, and badminton doesn’t count.  So he went to McGill, and then to Oxford, and eventually  got a job here in Vancouver, where he teaches evolution to undergraduates and cross country skiing to the very young.


Nerd Nite Vancouver v16

2016 is looking bright for nerds and we’re here to kick it off with some amazing speakers and our favourite beverage – beer! Join us or a pint and a New Year of Nerdery at our local haunt.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday January 19th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: as low as $5 online; $9 at the door

#1 The Examination of Bill Murray’s Meatball and the Evolution of Nerds: SummerCamp 101

Jeff Willis

What does Bill Murray, Meatballs and Nerd Evolution have in common? Summer Camp! Buckle your seat belt, open your cranium and roll up your sleeves as we take an introspective and hilarious indepth journey of relating Bill Murray’s movies to the design and flavor of a meatball wrapped up with the birthing of nerds. How can it be? Nerds, camp and Bill Murray…WTF…what the fun!  Jeff Willis is a giant camp geek and ready to share his thesis of the evolution of a nerd through the lens of summer camp. Geeking about camp at Nerd Nite.

Bio: Since 1991, Jeff (aka Willy), has been developing and leading various camps, expeditions and outdoor programs throughout Canada, Japan, Germany and the Arctic. His love of outdoor education coupled with formal training and years of experience in youth and family work led him to create and work at numerous camps such as Camp Fircom, Camp Suzuki and Fireside Avdentures. He is the quintessential camp director – an energetic leader, creating meaningful experiences for campers and having a load of fun along the way!

#2 Ever Wonder about Science Blogging?

Dr. Raymond Nakamura

In this experimental presentation, we are going to develop an outline for a science blog and a cartoon to go with it. At the beginning, I will exploit the curiosity of the audience to develop a topic. In the middle, I will mine the knowledge and perhaps smart phones of the audience to flesh out an outline. And in the end, I will tap into the imagination and humour of the audience to create a related science cartoon. Come see if this experiment blows up in my face and perhaps learn a little about science communication in the process.

Bio: Raymond Nakamura spends most of his time walking the dog, washing dishes, and helping his daughter with homework. As Head of Raymond’s Brain, he creates blog posts for Science World, co-hosts a podcast for the Nikkei National Museum, writes exhibit text and develops educational programs. He is an editor and cartoonist for the Science Borealis Canadian science blog site, an executive for the Lower Mainland Museum Educators group, and author of a picture book called Peach Girl. Twitter stalk him @raymondsbrain.


#3 The Seas Have Eyes

Dr. Greg Gavelis

Gaze into the algae and the algae gaze back into you. Discover why this bizarre statement is true as we learn about the scientific pursuit of a single cell said to have a human-like eye. In this process, we will explore the controversy and lurid details behind a lost branch of evolutionary theory, and perhaps find an answer to the question “Just how did eyes evolve, anyway?”

Bio: Greg Gavelis works at UBC, researching evolutionary cell biology. His findings have been featured in the journals Nature and National Geographic online.  In the past, Greg has accrued further nerd points through his Harry Potter themed wedding, collection of magic cards, inhalers and orthodontia, and was once hospitalized by a squirrel.

Nerd Nite Vancouver v15

November – the time of amazing moustaches and the slow, mercilessly merry crescendo to Christmas. Take a break from the madness with a night all about aquariums, wine, and a talk about Game of Thrones – a show which features lots of wine, but not nearly enough aquariums.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday November 24th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: as low as $5 online; $9 at the door

#1. Going down without getting wet

Melanie Knight

Unless you are Aquaman, a merperson, or Captain Nemo, it is likely that your undersea experiences have been limited to that one time you went snorkelling in Mexico or visited the aquarium.

Learn about a new approach to marine science education and the business of public aquariums: the catch and release mini aquarium model. A number of public aquariums in Canada have been built over the past decade that incorporate a sustainable exhibit model, operating seasonally and releasing the entire live animal collection back to the wild. This scalable and customized approach allows coastal communities worldwide to showcase the local biodiversity of their nearshore waters and teaches us a lot about life in the deep.

Bio: For the past 11 years, Melanie Knight has been working with the largest and the smallest aquariums in Canada. Three years ago, she founded the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in Newfoundland which just wrapped up its third successful season. She even did a TEDx talk about it. Melanie is now Co-Founder and CEO of Ocean to Eye Level, a consulting company which helps open catch-and-release aquariums around the world.



#2. It Shouldn’t Be This Difficult: Adventures in getting wine from grape to glass, with just a few detours in between

Isaac Hampson-Thorpe

Ever wondered why your favourite wine store is always out of your favourite product, but the store a few blocks away has it? Or how about the proper dress code for liquor inspectors in Newfoundland? Maybe you have been to a massive liquor store in America, found a delightful bottle of wine for three dollars, only to return to Her Majesty’s realm and pay four times the price?  Together, we shall explore the minutiae of wine law and liquor regulations in this fair land of ours, with some history of the wine trade in our province thrown in.  Enjoy a glass of your finest tipple, sit back, and listen to a tall bearded man rant about the wine business.

Bio: Isaac Hampson-Thorpe works at Broadway International Wine Shop where he is in charge of bringing in all the nerdy wine products. He has also worked in wineries, VQA retail stores, and as a wine agent. He holds his WSET Advanced Certification, and is currently working through his French Wine Scholar.  Before deciding to spend his entire life devoted to getting other people intoxicated, he went to UBC for a BA in Religion, Literature, and the Arts.  This, combined with his willingness to bring alcohol, and a vast eating capacity makes him an ideal dinner guest.


#3. ‘Cripples and bastards and broken things’: The imperfect bodies of Martin’s Game of Thrones’

Dr. Robert Rouse

The world of The Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones is one of broken humanity. In contrast with the heroes and villains of the High Fantasy genre, Martin’s characters are morally and physically flawed, exisiting and operating in shades of grey. This talk will ask why we find these figures so alluring: what do they say about us? And about the modern society which they – as does all fantasy – darkly reflect? I’ll be talking about Jamie and Tyrion Lannister, Sansa and Arya Stark, and – of course – the brothers Clegane, amongst others.

Bio: Robert Rouse is a Professor in the English Department at UBC. He teaches medieval literature for a living, which is a rare and – quite frankly – weird job. And yes, he does own a sword or two.

Nerd Nite v.14

Nerd Nite is back at the Fox Cabaret just in time for Hallowe’en. We’re getting our festive “nerd on” with a talk about witches and their persecution (not quite “Hocus Pocus”). We’ll also be featuring talks about miniatures and sexual armor.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Thursday October 15th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: $5 online; $8 at the door

#1. If it’s Visible, it’s Probably Not Small Enough

Maarten Meerman

When you think of woodturning, does an image of a large lump of tree being made into a bowl on a lathe come to mind?

Maarten has been exploring the other end of the spectrum, where the diameter of the turnings is measured in micrometers rather than inches, and you need a decent magnifier to even confirm that there’s a tiny turned item on the display stand, and not just empty space. With precision grounded in years of engineering spacecraft, combined with a supply of ebony, lignum-vitae and other exotic woods, Maarten makes goblets that you could fill 80 billion times with one regular glass of wine. Or beer, but he has not tried that yet.

He makes anything that is small: when recently commissioned to create a 1/288-scale model of the International Space Station for Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, he added a similarly-scaled hand-turned guitar as a private joke.

During this talk we will delve into the world of miniatures – the process and passion that goes into each piece.

Bio: Maarten is a rocket scientist and space engineer by day, designing satellites, space missions, and rocket trajectories, and editing space textbooks. He is a member of the Greater Vancouver Woodturners Guild, and he has published articles about innovative woodworking and nanoturning: his work has been covered on CTV News and CBC radio, and in the Surrey Now, Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun newspapers. He is a regular exhibitor at the annual Positively Petite art show in Coquitlam, BC, and he is in demand to demonstrate and teach microminiature skills on his nanolathe in the US and Canada.



#2. The Short End of the Broomstick: Sex, Gender, and European Witch Persecution

Dr. Kyle Frackman

Magic was once an accepted and understandable part of life. The wise woman and the knowledgeable herbalist were important in ancient society. In 14th– to 17th-century Europe, though, these and other common figures received an inordinate amount of attention, as persecution of the “witch” became an acute social preoccupation. In this presentation we will examine a brief overview of the history of this period, including a focus on the visual and symbolic language used to create and perpetuate the idea of the dangerous witch figure and how women became one of the biggest threats to social stability—the legacy of which we still see today.

Bio: Dr. Kyle Frackman is Assistant Professor of Germanic Studies at The University of British Columbia. His teaching and research focus on historical images of gender and sexuality; the film, history, and culture of the former East Germany; and Scandinavian literature and film.


#3 I Was Made For Loving You, Baby: Broaching the Language of Loving Yourself With More Than Words.

John James 
Sex. A topic of deep interest for almost everyone, even when the topic is swept under the table, hidden under a rug, or tied up until after dinner and sitting in the closet. John James interest lies in the spaces between what attracts and repels us to one another, what encourages us to touch and discourages us to touch, and how building armour for the exploration of pleasure has brought a deeper understanding and alternative view on how to approach the subject of intimacy. This tête-à-tête is a conversation about personal experiences with the (not so) subtleties of sex, empathy, barriers and how, at times, it takes putting up a wall to break the rest of them down.
Questions throughout the conversation are highly encouraged.
Bio: John James is an art director, artist and sexual armorist. Inspired by the unspoken conversations between people and their environments, James work in breaking barriers and bridging gaps has led her to collaborate with people around the word on projects that range from advertising to iBeacons. She also really digs scotch and soul music. Put the three of them together and you have a party.

Nerd Nite Vancouver v13

We’re celebrating one more Nerd Nite before we take a break for July and August. In preparation for the Nerd Nite drought, join us for a draft (or several) while we talk fonts, bad-ass birds and pinball wizards.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday June 23rd, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: $5 online; $8 at the door


#1 26 Letters = Unlimited Possibilities

Matt Heximer

Johannes Gutenberg changed the course of western society in the mid 1400’s. He developed a system of “movable type” to easily rearrange the 26 different letters of the latin alphabet in order to mass produce the printed word. We’ve come a long way in 600 years… even more so in the last 50. Today, Gutenberg’s invention is wrapped up in nifty little software programs we refer to as “fonts” – tiny packages holding both the promise of communication and personal expression. Witness the wonders of digital type and explore the world of fonts beyond Helvetica and Comic Sans.

Bio: Matt Heximer is a partner at 10four design group, a Vancouver based Graphic Design studio that focuses on branding, exhibit design, and typeface design. Matt’s typefaces have been featured in the books “Faces on the Edge: Digital Typography”, and “IndieFonts; A Compendium of Digital Type from Independent Foundries”. His Type designs have been utilized by BBC Worldwide, Disney, ESPN, Fisher Price, The Gap, Hallmark, Nickelodeon, and Simon & Schuster publishing. Matt likes comic books, apple fritters and obviously, Fonts (lots, and lots of fonts). Despite being colour blind and missing half a finger, he can still cobble together a pretty decent Typeface.


#2 The Bird that Kicked the Wasps’ Nest

Sean McCann

Ever wish you could go back in time and discover how the dinosaurs lived? Well too bad, you can’t! The good news is, dinosaurs are still around, and there are a bunch of them we know almost nothing about. I spent 5 seasons in the rainforest of French Guiana getting to know the Red-throated Caracara, one of the most bad-ass birds in the jungle. The caracaras patrol the forest in screaming gangs, appear to engage in polyamory as they cooperatively rear young, and make war on stinging wasps then eat their babies. I used nest cameras, automated recording, and camera traps to piece together the life history of these awesome birds, which just may be the very worst enemy of social wasps in tropical America.

Bio: Sean McCann is a biologist interested in social insects, birds and the roles they play in the environment.  He uses photography and videography both as a research tool and a means of communication of that research.


#3 A Pinball Life

Eden Stamm

The history of pinball dates all the way back to the 1700’s, it was a derivative of a billiards indoor table game called bagatelle. Over 300 years later you can find these games, using modern technology, and with themes from popular movies, stuck in the corner of bars. Some people may walk past these machines, play them a few times, and think of them as nothing more than trivial casino games that take your money. But to some, these intricate machines are immersive games and works of art in and of themselves. I will tell the story of how these machines are more than just trivial games, and have become an integral part of my life, leading me to pursue pinball internationally.
Bio: Eden Stamm is a semi-professional pinball and poker player. He is currently the #3 ranked pinball player in Canada, and #52 in the world. In 2008 he won the first ever Canadian Pinball Championships.

Nerd Nite Vancouver v12

Science nerds of Vancouver unite! Our next nite will feature talks from the fields of Maths, Biology, and Engineering! To infinity… and BEYOND! Get your geek on and join us for a pint or two!

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday May 26th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: $5 Early Nerd Tickets on Eventbrite, $8 at the door

#1 Pascal’s Wager and Various Types of Infinity

Shaun Stewart

Blaise Pascal asserted that people should devote their lives to Christianity in order to maximize their expected outcome for the afterlife. The mathematics of infinity have progressed somewhat since then, which might just allow us to gain infinite reward and still live in sin. Wealthier attendees may consider purchasing eternal life from speaker Shaun Stewart at very reasonable rates.

Bio: Shaun Stewart is a mathematician who studied at the University of British Columbia. He is also a comedian, performing with The Critical Hit Show, The Gentlemen Hecklers, and The Vancouver Theatresports League. Shaun is currently in the process of becoming a secondary school math teacher, and will soon be teaching your kids.


#2 Bioblitzin’ the Flathead: Using Citizen Science to Promote Conservation

Dr. Peter Wood

Recently conservationists have taken to the concept of “bioblitzing” to further their work, drawing upon citizens to perform a rapid assessment of an area’s biodiversity, and using the results to engage the public, and lobby for protection. For the past four years this strategy has been used by several groups to highlight the importance of defending the Flathead River Valley, a gorgeous area in the southern BC rockies (see: This talk will explore lessons learned in how to use this tool effectively to translate science into policy. It will also feature stunning visuals of the landscape, its charismatic megafauna, and enigmatic microfauna. We will then completely geek-out on the science behind why this area is one of the most biodiverse in all of North America, and why it is critical in light of climate change.

Bio: Peter’s conservation work over the past 15 years has taken him all over the world, including Borneo, the Congo Basin, the Amazon, and even the Okanagan. Through his work he aims to bridge the gap between science and policy, and make links between social justice and environmental protection. He completed his PhD on international law and forest conservation at the University of Toronto. He’s also really good at Doodle polls and email. 


#3 The Search for a Beautiful Solution: Physics, Engineering, Superheroes, Demon Portals, and YOU

Grant Minor

What does “Physics” mean in our modern context?  What about “Engineering”?  Where do the fields overlap?  Where does Canada fit in all of this?  Will our physicists and engineers build the next mega-collider-thing that will create a black hole and swallow us all into a timeless nether-dimension?  Will they open a portal to an alternate demon universe and unleash Hell on Earth?  Or, will they develop the chest-mounted fusion reactor required to power our flying armour suits?   How does this affect YOU?  A Canadian engineer with a background in physics who has seen Iron Man and played DOOM, Quake, and Half-Life will attempt to answer all of these questions.

Bio: Grant Minor is originally from Ontario, but has been living in BC for 10 years.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Enginering Physics from McMaster University and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria.  He is a practicing professional engineer licensed under APEGBC.  Grant currently works at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, and has held the position of Remote Handling Group Leader / Nuclear Engineer at the institution since 2010.  He manages a group of engineers, technicians, and tradespeople who design, build and maintain particle accelerator equipment used in high-radiation environments.  Grant has previously worked in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, as well as the nuclear power generation industry in Ontario.  He also performs in several Vancouver bands on the punk and indie circuit, including Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Phoenix Thunderbird, and ACTORS.

Nerd Nite Vancouver v11

Foxes. We have a fascination with them. We query over the sounds they make; we amaze at their hunting prowess; we imagine their bizarre and beautiful friendships; and we can’t deny that they are strangely sexy. It’s for all of these reasons that we both love and respect the fox. As such, we are pleased to announce that our next event will be held at the foxiest joint in town – The Fox Cabaret! We’re ready to bring the nerd to this ummm “reformed” theatre.

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Tuesday April 7th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30

Tickets: $6.30 online; $8 at the door

#1 Better the Devil You Know? Benefits, Limits and Ethics of Predictive Genetic Testing

Kimberly Girling

With the increased availability of human genome sequencing and genetic testing, more options are available for predictive testing for disease than ever before. This means many exciting options for early disease treatment, lifestyle choices and advances in “personalized medicine”. However, this knowledge can also lead to ethical challenges and may have limitations. How can predictive testing help improve disease outcomes? Are new “personalized” medical treatments really advancing heath?

Bio: Kimberly Girling is a Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience at UBC, developing novel, preventative therapies for Huntington’s Disease, an inherited, genetic neurodegenerative disease. Kimberly is also the Director of Corporate Relations of the Student Biotechnology Network, a BC-wide organization that helps students develop career paths in life science and biotechnology through education about career opportunities and connection with industry leaders. Kimberly has a strong interest in global health and accessible medicine and sits on the advisory board for the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI) at UBC, an organization that works to increase research, awareness and funding for tropical diseases and works towards medical advances for neglected communities worldwide. Kimberly co-founded and co-edits the UBC NGDI Student Global Health Journal. Kimberly also volunteers with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, working to develop better policies relating to opiate overdose in Canada, and contributing to science communication through blogging.


#2 #DesignNerd

Mitra Mansour

The story of one Design Nerd’s journey.

Bio: Mitra Mansour is a Vancouver-based Interdisciplinary Designer, Researcher, Facilitator and Project Coordinator with a background in Art, Communication, Architecture and Urban Design. She is the founder of Creative Room, a collaborative interdisciplinary design studio and on-going research laboratory for cooperative creative studio business. Currently she is the Director of Community Engagement and Facilitator with the Vancouver Design Nerds, Co-director and curator of Civic Renewal Lab, and a member of the City of Vancouver Public Art Committee.

Mansour’s practice has led her to the creation of and advocacy for better design through community engagement, social impact design, and public interest design with a focus on sustainable environments and models. Her current work includes Mobile Town Hall (MoTH) – a mobile pop-up citizen-led initiative and structure designed to foster more meaningful dialogue between community members and city hall (Town Hall 2.0).


#3 Anything Except My Ship, My Sword, or My Wife: Swords in Medieval Literature

Dr. Siân Echard 

A visitor arrives at Arthur’s court, seeking a boon. The King, noted for his generosity and adventurous spirit, promises that he will give the visitor absolutely anything, with a short list of exceptions. The King’s sword (and his ship, and his knife, and his cloak) all come before his wife in that list, suggesting just how important Arthur’s weapons are to him. Arthur’s sword (or swords) is only the most famous example of the centrality of a hero’s weapon to his reputation in medieval literature. This lavishly-illustrated talk will look at how swords are presented in medieval hero narratives, looking at weapons as symbols of rule, agents of destiny, and objects of magic and mysticism. We’ll finish up with a brief look at how the idea of the named weapon makes its way into modern fantasy and gaming.

Bio: Siân Echard is a Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include Anglo Latin literature, Arthurian literature, John Gower, and manuscript studies and book history. She is particularly interested in how the presentation of text—on the page, in the archive, in the digital world—affects how text is received and discussed. Dr. Echard holds a UBC Killam Research Prize for 1998, a UBC Killam Teaching Prize for 2001, and was named a Distinguished University Scholar in 2004.

Nerd Nite Vancouver Goes Aqua – SOLD OUT

Nerd Nite Vancouver is having its one year Nerdaversary! To celebrate an amazing year filled with fantastic speakers and delicious beer we’re bringing you… more fantastic speakers and delicious beer – but with a twist! We’re pleased to announce that we will be holding Nerd Nite v10 at the Vancouver Aquarium. Tickets will be sold online on the Vancouver Aquarium’s Website. Take a gander below to see our lineup of monstrously delightful talks. We recommend you come early to have a drink before we head into the theatre.

Where: The Vancouver Aquarium

When: Tuesday, March 3rd @ 6:45pm (doors @ 6:00)

Tickets: $10.50 (non VanAqua members), $8.40 (members)


#1 Monster appetite: The insatiable cravings of a coral reef

Hannah Evans

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth and can extend for hundreds of miles.  The reefs are made of tiny coral animals, some the size of the tip of a pen, with mouths surrounded by sticky, stinging tentacles that are pointed skyward.  For plankton passing by too close, the coral reef can be the end of the line.

Bio: Hannah Evans is the senior aquarium biologist at the Vancouver Aquarium.

This talk has been changed from the original speaker Dr. Chris Balakrishnan due to a flight cancellation.

#2 Meet Cadborosaurus: An introduction to marine cryptozoology

Dr. Paul H. LeBlond

Hundreds of sober people have seen large unidentified animals in the coastal waters of the northeast Pacific. These creatures are collectively known as Cadborosaurus, more familiarly “Caddy”. I will review and critique the evidence for Caddy’s existence, based on eyewitness reports, and present some speculations as to its nature.

Bio: Paul LeBlond is an Emeritus Professor in Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC. In parallel to his research andteaching activities in physical oceanography, he developed an early interest in “sea-monsters”, leading to in-depth studies of Cadborosaurus and the creation of the BC Scientific Cryptozoology Club. He now lives on Galiano Island where he is active in community organizations.Caddy-painting

#3 Could Godzilla play hockey? The rocket science of movie monsters

Dr. Jaymie Matthews

Jaymie Matthews hunts for alien worlds, including worlds that might harbour aliens.  Might any of those aliens be monsters? Prof. Matthews would certainly prefer to meet E.T. than be eaten by Alien.  But monsters have already invaded Earth.  The first movie monster attack took place in 1924, in Die Nibelungen, where the monster was a giant dragon.  Eleven years later, New York was terrorized by King Kong.  In 1954, Godzilla started stomping on Tokyo.

Could there be a real Godzilla somewhere in the Universe, based on the laws of physics and biology?  When Godzilla roars, does he purr like a kitten?  With the playoffs approaching, the question on the mind of every NHL coach is: Can Godzilla skate?

Learn the answers to these questions as you sit ringside as an astrophysicist takes on Godzilla, Gamera, King Kong and Smaug in the ultimate battle of brains vs. brawn.

Bio: Jaymie Matthews is an astrophysical “gossip columnist” who unveils the hidden lifestyles of stars by eavesdropping on “the music of the spheres.”  His version of an interstellar iPod is Canada’s first space telescope, MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars), which detects vibrations in the light of humming stars. MOST also makes Matthews an “astro-paparazzo” by helping him spy on planets around other stars that might be homes for alien celebrities. Probably not Vulcans, but microbes. The discovery of microbes on another world would qualify them as newsmakers of the century.

A Professor of Astrophysics at UBC and a member of the Board of the HR MacMillan Space Centre, Prof. Matthews is also an Officer of the Order of Canada. In addition to research, education and outreach are also important facets of Dr. Matthews’ life. He’s a co-founder and regular instructor of UBC’s Science 101 course for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and a mentor in the national Loran Scholar programme.  Dr. Matthews was a “Human Library Book” in a programme where “readers” could reserve him for 20 minutes at a time to ask anythingabout astronomy. He was also a storyteller at the Kootenay Storytelling Festival in 2013.


Nerd Nite Vancouver v8.0

We are back once more for another edition of Nerd Nite Vancouver! This will be our last event before the holidays, so be sure to get your fill of nerdy fun! A sneak peak of our upcoming event is below, and really, who can resist talking about poop?

Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)

When: Wednesday, November 19th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)

Tickets: $2 dollars at the door

#1 The walking “nearly” dead: parasite manipulation of host behaviour

Kaylee Byers

Though at times it may be refreshing to have decisions made for us, the ability to choose how we spend our days is something we non-parasitized may take for granted. From fungi, to nematodes, to wasps, some parasitic species have adapted the amazing ability to manipulate their host’s behaviour in a way that goes beyond the horror of any zombie-themed t.v. series. Get ready to explore the fascinating world of host-parasite interactions – where the microscopic have tremendous influences. We will discuss the diversity of parasites that manipulate not only host behavior but also host appearance; all in an effort to complete their life cycle and start the process all over again.

Bio: Kaylee Byers is one of the Vancouver Nerd Nite co-bosses and just loves science. She is a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia where she studies rats, their fleas, and the diseases they carry ( Sometimes she goes on rat safaris. When she’s not reading about creepy critters or staring through a microscope, she’s on the search for Vancouver’s best taco.


#2 Loving your cooties – how advances in genomic technology is shaping our understanding of the microbes on and around us

Ana Crisan

Your poop is probably something that you don’t dwell too much upon, but poop is a hot topic in the emerging field of metagenomics – why? It’s because in, on and around us are tiny microbes that play important roles in our wellness and of the health of the environment around us. And your poop is littered with them. In this brief, and hopefully entertaining, conversation I will outline where metagenomics came from and simply describe the technological advances it required to get here. I will highlight some interesting work on the Human and Earth Microbiome projects, and speculate on the promise and perils of this new science. You will leave convinced that the future is undoubtedly in poop.

Bio: Ana received an undergraduate from Queen’s University in Biomedical Computing, and a Master of Science at UBC with the Bioinformatics Training Program. Following graduate school she worked at GenomeDx Biosciences, where she  further refined her skills by obtaining certification in Professional Project Management.  Ana joined the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2013 as “Thinker/Doer” (or more formally “Bioinformatician &  Biostatistician”),  working with Dr. Jennifer Gardy.

When not probing the depths of the microbial world with the powers of science and statistics, Ana can be seen running around – literally. She competes for fun in running races and triathlons, and can often be found trekking through BCs beautiful mountains.

#3 Saving sea lions

Dr. Martin Haulena

Join the Vancouver Aquarium’s Head of Veterinary Medicine as he shares stories of rescuing sea lions in the field. Sea lions are charismatic marine mammals that are found along the West Coast of North America. Related to seals, sea lions are also pinnipeds that are often seen lying on rocks, docks and other objects. Recently, more and more sea lions in the Canadian province of British Columbia have been in distress; they have become entangled in various types of debris that can cause severe injuries and even result in death. Find out how the Vancouver Aquarium is saving the lives of sea lions in British Columbia.

Bio: Martin Haulena graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in 1993. He completed a clinical internship in aquatic animal medicine at Mystic Aquarium in 1996 and a Master’s degree in pathobiology from the University of Guelph in 1999. He became a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine in 2007. Dr. Haulena was the Staff Veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California for 9 years. He has been Staff Veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium since 2006. His special interests are in the medical management of aquatic animals, particularly marine mammals, with emphasis on innovative diagnostic methods such as MRIs, endoscopy and sonography, developing safe anaesthetic protocols and improving surgical techniques. Veterinary students from around the world study aquatic animal medicine each year under the direction of Dr. Haulena. He serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. His professional affiliations include the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine, Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians. He has authored over 45 scientific journal articles and book chapters.



Nerd Nite Vancouver v7.0

Could there be a greater day in history? On October 15th, 1520  King Henry VIII of England ordered for there to be bowling lanes at Whitehall! Let them have bowling! And, let them have Nerd Nite! A glimpse of our upcoming event is below!

Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)

When: Wednesday, October 15th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)

Tickets: $5 dollars at the door

#1. The Vancouver Boardgame Community 

Marcel Perro

Every day, technology finds new ways to get us to “plug in”, bringing an ease to our lives and “connecting” us to people across the globe. Despite this, we are becoming less and less connected to each other socially. The reemergence of board games is changing this. Across the globe, people are logging off and challenging one another face-to-face. With this, Vancouver has seen a surge in game shops opening, restaurants catering to gamers and social clubs popping up. With the increase in global demand comes a new wave of designers and many are emerging locally. We’ll talk about Vancouver’s history in the board game realm. Come get a sneak peak behind the scenes of how board games are being developed in your backyard.
Bio: Marcel Perro has been playing board games his whole life.He discovered modern boardgaming within the last decade after jumping into the design aspect of the hobby. He is an aspiring board game designer, currently working on three designs. When not working on game design or playing games, he can be found on Vancouver stages improvising with Instant Theatre Company or performing sketch comedy with Idle Minds.

#2. Bizarre Behaviour: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spiders

Catherine Hoffman

Spiders: you either hate them or you…nope, you probably hate them. But hundreds of scientists study these eight-legged “freaks” because they have some crazy cool behaviors. From sexual cannibalism to communication, spiders offer a unique glimpse into the world of animal behavior. We will venture into various behaviors including why some spiders live together with thousands of other spiders. (No, I did not make that up). Come learn about the bizarre behaviours of spiders!

Bio: Catherine Hoffman is finishing her Masters in Zoology at the University of British Columbia. She started studying spiders during her undergraduate in Ohio, but isn’t some crazy spider freak…promise. Catherine then ventured across the continent to study social evolution in spiders at UBC. This research has taken her to Ecuador for the past three summers where she trampled around the rainforest and experienced the joys of the Amazon basin. More than anything, Catherine loves telling scientific stories to the public.

#3. Slow Technology – – Rise of the Nerds

Bruce McKinlay

‘Slow technology’ is about being a better user, primarily by making better choices when we purchase & use our devices. As technology gets better and more pervasive, our behaviors become subservient to the lowest common denominators. We’re increasingly and blindly accepting what befalls us in the marketplace, resulting in products with more novelty than quality, choices more based on marketing slogans than tangible facts, and desires for things that prioritize aesthetics over durability. The solution is to focus on making ourselves better, not just the technology. At the same time, nerds have risen to become a sought-after source of knowledge so have the opportunity to take the reigns of this donkey cart and guide us (and our behaviors) towards the light. Unless you serve the dark side of the Force, in which case you’re screwed.

BioBruce has been rummaging around inside the IT industry for over 20 years helping people make sense of technology. He has designed, built, programmed, repaired, upgraded, taught, explained, coerced, and crisis  counselled people in classrooms, on television & radio, throughout the netherworld of the internet, but most of all in person. These experiences have built a first-hand understanding of all that is wonderful and transformative about technology in our every-day lives. It has also however uncovered the darker side of our unbridled consumer behaviors, especially when flavored with the irresistible spices of today’s gadget-driven marketplace – – “I have met the enemy and he is us”. Bruce believes there’s a fantastic world of potential and benefit before us, that centers on the merits of technology. All that stands in our way is ourselves, our indiscriminate desire for novelty over quality, our disinterest in learning how things work, and worst of all how our apathy encourages a dehumanized view of those who produce and dispose of our techno waste for us. After having spent so long working and building a career in technology, he has become more interested in ensuring our worst behaviors as end-users don’t lay its potential to waste.