May 23 Nerd Nite!

Tickets for our next event are already on sale here

Be there and be square! Only $10!

Speaker Lineup for March 21, 2024!

Buy your tickets for the event here!

Eric Leonardis

Title: Neuroscience of The New Flesh: Body Horror In Your Brain

Dr. Eric Leonardis is a neuroscientist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies who studies perception and action in the brains of mice, monkeys, and humans. Eric blends the cerebral with the sensational: when not working on brain-inspired AI, he can be found introducing films in movie theaters and DJing at warehouse parties across SoCal. He is currently organizing the “New Flesh Party”, a screening of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome followed by a dance party at the Digital Gym Cinema in Downtown SD on May 4th, 2024

Sydney Smith

Title: Using Data and Neuroscience to Understand the Most Effective Depression Treatment

I’m a Colorado-transplant and computational neuroscience PhD candidate at UC San Diego. Essentially, I am a gigantic nerd who uses math and computer science to learn about the brain. Lucky for me, San Diego is a delightful place to be a nerd and I’ve spent the last 7 years enjoying this beautiful city, roaming the dog beaches with my fluffy BFF, and endlessly searching for the best tacos and breweries in town. Some of these breweries let me host an event every spring called the Taste of Science Festival, which is similar in spirit to Nerd Nite. You can find more of my work on the platform The Conversation, the Stories of Women in Neuroscience podcast and blog, and in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Paul Wynns

Title: Top Code: I, for one, welcome our fighter pilot overlords

Paul is a returning Nerd Night presenter who has worked in aviation and aerospace as a program manager at the world’s largest aerospace company. Prior to that, he was a Navy jet pilot who denies ever having said “Red Five standing by” on the radio during weapons training or carrier operations. These days, he is enrolled at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management as a PhD candidate studying passenger trust in automated air travel. 

Next event is March 21, 2024!

Tickets are available at this link!

Speaker Lineup for January 25, 2024!

Here’s the speakers for Nerd Nite San Diego’s return! Get your tickets here:

Bradley Voytek

Title: How to measure a brain

From archaic brain circulation seesaws to Neuralink brain implants, neuroscience has a long and diverse history of creative—and sometimes outlandish—approaches for measuring the human brain and its activity. Although not all approaches worked, even the strangest among them got us to where we are today… In this talk, Prof. Voytek will sample some of the weirder approaches that have been developed for studying the human brain, discussing his research with mini-brains grown in human dishes to working with people implanted with permanent brain stimulators.

Danielle Gaffen

Title: Decoding Your Diet: Personalizing Your Plate with Nutrigenetics, Nutrigenomics, and Microbiome Science

From the earliest feasts to futuristic foods, the quest for the perfect plate has evolved. Today, it’s not just about the power-packed provisions that propel health or the savory selections that shield against sickness. The real spice lies in the dynamic interplay between our genetic blueprint and the bustling community of microbes residing within us – our microbiome. Gear up for a feast of knowledge, sprinkled with fun, and discover the fine dining experience designed by precision nutrition for your body.

Nicholas Peters

Title: Pokémeh: Design Oddities in the Pokémon World

Pokémon continues to be the very best in terms of the world’s top performing media franchises, but for every proverbial Hyper Beam the brand unleashes on popular culture, there have been several storied not-so-super effective moves. With particular mind to art, narrative, and game design, we’ll catch some of Pokémon’s most hilarious, fascinating, and head-scratching controversies; including dashed evolutionary dreams, monsters that can’t sit, game breaking miscalculations, and a quest so inaccessible, it’s downright shocking.

Save the Date! Nerd Nite Returns 1/25/24

Nerd Nite San Diego returns in 2024

Yes, it’s true! Keep an eye out here and on our social media pages for news about our great return in January 2024…

What happened in December 2020?

Nerd Nite San Diego #45

Tuesday Dec 1st 2020 at 7pm on Zoom

In the 2020 finale, we talked Math! Like really rad, sexy math and geometry. We also learned about secret codes in textiles!

“The Spies Who Stitched Me”

by Czarina Salido & Francis French

Codes, spies, needles, and intrigue! Did knitting change the outcome of a war? In the world of textiles, codes can refer to the ancient origins of the modern computer codes that deeply affect our everyday lives. But there are stories of other, hidden codes in textiles… codes used by spies that may have changed the outcome of wars or helped people escape persecutors. Delve into this mysterious history with Francis French, science educator (and textile photographer on books such as The Techniques of Indian Embroidery), and Czarina Salido, Director of Taking Up Space, currently teaching Native American girls about coding.

Bios: Czarina Salido is the Director of Taking Up Space, a program that inspires the next generation of explorers through mentoring and awarding Native American girls scholarships to Space Camp, while introducing girls to fun, hands-on experiences that help to facilitate a high level of self confidence and interest in STEM-related areas.

Francis French is an author and educator with international experience in relating science, engineering, music, astronomy, art, and wildlife to general audiences through classes, workshops, public speaking, television and documentary productions. He is the author of numerous bestselling history books, and a keynote speaker at conferences.

“Unsolved Math Mysteries at Burning Man”

by Satyan Devadoss

Brilliant, cutting-edge ideas are all around us: Beyoncé and music, quantum computing and physics, vaccines and biology, Hamilton and theatre.  But when it comes to math, many think of it as a pile of formulas and equations that is painful but useful, like a root canal. In reality, mathematics is filled with mysteries and wonders that can bring joy to anyone, much like ice cream.

This talk is about one of these revolutionary ideas, whose origins date back 500 years to the Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer.  We discuss Dürer’s puzzle and play with higher-dimensional cubes, all of which inspired the creation of a 2-ton sculpture at Burning Man. This talk is open for all ages, especially suited to those who absolutely love or absolutely hate math.

Bio: Before becoming the Fletcher Jones Professor of Applied Mathematics at USD, Satyan Devadoss was a professor at Williams for nearly 15 years, and has held visiting positions at Ohio State, UC Berkeley, Harvey Mudd, and Stanford. He is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and recipient of two national teaching awards, whose thoughts have appeared in venues such as NPR, the Times of London, the Washington Post, and Forbes. His work explores the structure of shape, and its intersection with origami, painting, architecture, genetics, and design. He is a satisfactory father to four children and married to a queen.

Nerd Nite SD reduces gender gap

Nerd Nite SD are actively increasing the participation and representation of women scientists in science communication. In 2017, only 12% of NNSD presenters were female. By 2019, the number of female speakers more than doubled (29%) and in 2020, the male-female presenter ratio was 60% vs. 40%. Our goal for 2021 is to reach equal representation of male and female presenters on NNSD!

Female scientists are encourage to nominate themselves or other female scientists to present their work at Nerd Nite SD! Contact

The bar chart shows the proportion of male and female presenter on Nerd Nite San Diego in percentages. Dark blue bars represent the percentage of female presenters and light blue bars represent the perfentage of male pesenters. In 2017, there were 18% female and 82% male presenters, in 2018 there were 25% female and 75% male, in 2019 there were 29% female and 71% male, in 2020 40% female and 60% male. In 2021, the projected ratio is 50-50%.


What happened in August 2020

Nerd Nite San Diego #43

August 4th, 7pm on Zoom!

“Aquatic Biology”

When it comes to creatures living in the waters, you might have all the questions! The answer lies in the icosahedron! This August, we’re brining you three biology nerds who each nerd out on a unique aspect of marine or freshwater habitat. What are oysters and mussels up to when they think no one is watching? In his marine peepshow, Luke Miller, who spends his time squatting on the rocky shore or in the mud sticking sensors on animals, reveals what makes intertidal communities thrive or fail. How do flatworms re-grow lost body parts? Ricardo Zayas uses freshwater planarians (flatworms) as models to study the molecular basis underlying tissue regeneration. And Ric DeSantiago, a.k.a. DaHood Scientist, “takes the hood to science and brings science to the hood” and helps us understand relationships among intertidal communities! 

August speakers:

Luke Miller “Prying into the private lives of oysters and mussels”

To most people, shellfish like oysters and mussels are just rocks with food inside, And frankly, we’re not going to quibble with that viewpoint. But before they arrive on your dinner table, those animals spend years stuck to rocks, piers, boats, or each other, and they make their living sucking up whatever happens to be floating by in the water. It’s not a glamorous life by any measure, but mussels and oysters are doing their part to keep our bays and coasts lively and productive, while avoiding all sorts of threats to their survival. We’re going to take a peek into what they’re doing when they think no one is watching, and try to gain insight into why they flourish or fail.

Bio: Luke Miller spends a lot of time squatting on the rocky shore or in the mud, where he attempts to stick sensors on animals and keep seawater out of sensitive electronics. When not quarantined at home, he spends large chunks of time sitting in an office at San Diego State University where he is an assistant professor of biology, or running around keeping a small child and wife entertained.

Stalk Luke’s work on his website:

Ric DeSantiago “Inter ecosystem connectivity through marine subsidies: Foodwebs don’t care about your boundaries!”

As ecologists, we tend to focus our specific ecosystems and how organisms within those systems interact with each other and the environment. The more we study these interactions, the better we understand the predator-prey and grazer-plant that make up the foodwebs in our systems. But nature doesn’t care about our definition of an “ecosystem” or where we draw the boundaries. So, if we want to understand the natural world, we need to be the fish who jumps out of the water and explores the land. This is the story of the lessons I learned when I was invited to explore South Coronado Island.

Bio: Ric DeSantiago is a PhD student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Ecology at San Diego State University and University of California, Davis. He works with Dr. Jeremy Long and is a proud member of the #longlabmafia. Ric broadly studies coastal communities and is interested in the connectivity between sea and land. His current research looks at the impact of the invasive seaweed, Sargassum horneri, on rocky coastal communities as it washes ashore. Ric likes to use art in the form of cartoons and short film to communicate science and is always down to nerd out over beers.

Check out Ric’s beautiful art:

Ricardo Zayas “Regaining a sense of touch: lessons from flatworms”

Have you ever wondered if worms can feel gentle touches or feel pain when baiting fishhooks? Animals rely on sensory systems to physically interact with the environment. Specialized cells allow us and worms to detect light, vibrations, temperature, smell chemicals, or feel touch. Impaired sensations can be quite debilitating or dangerous. My lab uses freshwater planarians, flatworms with the remarkable ability to replace injured tissues, to study how animals can regenerate sensory cells. Tune in to learn about how our work should offer insights into genetic mechanisms underpinning sensory cell repair, function, and disease.

Bio: Dr. Ricardo Zayas was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Ricardo moved to the mainland to earn his B.S. in Biology from Fairfield University (1993). Motivated by a long-standing commitment to social justice and teaching, he volunteered as a science and math teacher at Loyola High School, a school predominantly addressing the needs of under-served male African Americans in Detroit, MI. Ricardo earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Tufts University (2003) and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois where he studied stem cell biology and tissue regeneration in planarians. Planarians are really cool (and cute) organisms that are capable of regenerating lost body parts from very small body pieces from a population of adult pluripotent stem cells. Ricardo joined San Diego State in 2008, where he runs a research program using planarians as a model to investigate molecular and signaling pathways underlying regeneration of the nervous system.

Watch Dr. Zayas talk about flatworms replicating own cells to grow parts of their body:

What happened in July 2020

Nerd Nite San Diego #42 July 7th, 7pm on Zoom!

We had an excellent line-up for our July virtual event and the topics could not have been more diverse! Sarah Shoffler gave us some important tips on how to find sustainable seafood in San Diego, Tim Slattery told us what our eye movements while reading reveal about our mind, and Anthony Kiefer took us on a tour of our celestial neighborhood! All that amazing science in one night and FOR FREE! You came, you thought, you drank!

Join our email list to receive the invitation each month: HERE

Sarah Shoffler “What is Sustainable Seafood and How to Find it in Three Easy Steps”

Americans are scared of seafood! Sarah will give the audience enthusiasm and confidence in buying, and maybe even cooking, seafood.  The dominant narrative is that our oceans are going to hell in a handbasket and that it’s the fault of those extracting from it. Plus, cooking seafood is scary – Is it fresh? How do I cook it? What the hell would I do with a whole fish if I knew where to get one? What are all these certifications at the Whole Foods counter? Did this fish die happy? She’ll answer these questions by explaining some broad facts about where our seafood comes from, the challenges of getting US or local seafood and why “US-caught” is its own sustainability label, along with the scientific and legal bases for that information.

Sarah’s Bio: Sarah M. Shoffler is a seafood enthusiast, foodie philosopher, and a fishery biologist for NOAA Fisheries. She loves writing about issues on the cusp of science and seafood and anything about our food community. When she’s not supporting San Diego’s homegrown or harvested foods and drinks, you can find her hiking with her husband, Eric, and pooch, Taco. The information and any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of NOAA.

Anthony Kiefer “Us In Space”

A tour of the celestial neighborhood, because we need a vacation from Earth for a minute. 

Anthony’s Bio: Anthony Kiefer is a lifelong space nut, and even guided tours at Lowell Observatory! He is currently attending Northern Arizona University to just get an Astronomy degree already (not astrology!!!) 

Tim Slattery “Eye Movements as a Window to the Mind”

Ever lost your car keys, searched for them for hours only to find them in a location you already searched? Did that feel like a strange trick of the mind? Cognitive scientists study human eye movements in order to understand the mental processes behind everyday tasks, like visual search, reading, and navigation. Come learn how and why we move our eyes and what we can learn from these movements about the way our mind works. We’ll take a look at the state of the art of eye tracking technology, what it’s capable of, and what the future holds as eye trackers become embedded in our personal devices.

Tim’s Bio: Tim Slattery is a sci-fi fan, puzzle game enthusiast, monocular nerd, high-school wrestler, and father to two crazy boys. He sings in the car and doesn’t care who is watching at the stoplights. After completing his PhD in Cognitive Psychology at University of Massachusetts, Tim went on to research visual cognition at UCSD. Tim is currently based at Bournemouth University, UK.