Speakers and Topics for July 25 Event

Tickets are still available, only $10!

In addition to our awesome panel of science ambassadors, we’ll have two other Nerd Nite talks.

Spacetime in “Star Trek”

Does going to warp around a sun send you back in time? And how does one get back? What exactly are chronitons, gravitons, or tachyons? How does the “Harry Kim Wormhole” work? We’ll explore all the times Star Trek has played around with space and time for better or worse. 

Erin Macdonald received her PhD at 25 in gravitational astrophysics at the University of Glasgow in Scotland as a member of the LIGO Collaboration searching for gravitational waves. She left academia less than a year-and-a-half before their Nobel Prize-winning detection, but she promises she’s not bitter (giving talks in a bar helps!). After working as a researcher and educator, she became a technical advisor for the Department of Defense. In 2020 Erin ditched the engineering career to focus on her work as the official Star Trek science advisor. In addition, she now works full time as a writer, a voice actor, and produces independent LGBTQIA+ sci-fi short films with her company Spacetime Productions. She is a regular Nerd Nite speaker and contributed an essay “Artificial Gravity in Science Fiction” to the recent Nerd Nite book “How to Win Friends and Influence Fungi”.

Joint talk from Elizabeth Rega and Stuart Sumida: “Revenge of the Nerds:  How Science (and Sex) Illuminate Character Design and Movement

Elizabeth and Stuart will describe their backgrounds (anthropology, anatomy, and paleontology) and how important actual science is to the making of animated films believable (not necessarily accurate, but believable) visual effects, and effective video gaming.

A Professor of Anatomy and Vice Provost at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA, Dr. Elizabeth Rega has published numerous peer-reviewed and popular papers on pathology of ancient humans, dinosaurs and other extinct taxa and has conducted fieldwork on three different continents. Her specialization in teaching anatomy to medical students has led her to be a frequent consultant to the film, animation and game industry, she provides an anatomical and anthropological perspective to inform the development and animation of characters, as well as to highlight the problematic history of racial depictions in film, animation, and entertainment. 

Stuart Sumida is a professor of biology at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB, or as it is more affectionately known – CSU on the way to Vegas’).  He is a paleontologist by research specialization, and the president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (close to the ultimate in nerd cred). He specializes in the study of the earliest animals that made it out onto land without having to back to the water to have sex. He is also a frequent anatomical and paleontological consultant to the entertainment industry, having worked on over seventy animated films, video games and theme park rides.

Science x Pop Culture Mixer at SDCC

San Diego Nerd Nite is co-hosting a free event at San Diego Comic-Con. Real-life scientists will be on hand to answer any of your burning questions, pop culture related or not. Come out, have a drink (cash bar), and mingle with other science-minded folks!

Marriott Marquis Marina’s South Pool Patio
Saturday, July 27 from 4-7pm

Hosted by Cosplay for Science, the San Diego Science Writers Association, San Diego Nerd Nite, and Star Warsologies. Scientists from the Fleet Science Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are also participating. More details coming soon!

Panel of IF/THEN Ambassadors at July 25 event

Part of our July 25 Comic-Con event includes a group of women in STEM who will share their research and passion for science via a panel discussion. They are all part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s ambassador program.

Chanté Summers is an organic chemist and has worked in pharmaceuticals since 2016. She has worked in oncology and infectious disease, including a short time in analytical testing of compounded pharmaceuticals. Most recently she put out a lab fire that, sure – she started by accident but avoided the embarrassment of a building evacuation and has a fun story to tell. Chanté is known for having her hands in too many things – from ceramics and photography, to rock climbing, and kayaking. She loves falling into a good fiction book and napping with her rescue dog, Bindi.

Not only is she a knitting and outdoors enthusiast, Gracie Ermi is a computer scientist at Impact Observatory, where she builds machine learning technology to better understand how the planet is changing in the face of climate change. Her work is all about quickly synthesizing large amounts of satellite images to empower decision-makers with timely, science-based insights about the ecosystems they are working to protect. Her career has centered around using technology to better protect the planet, and previously she worked on technology to support wildlife research – with projects related to killer whales, elephants, dolphins, and more! Gracie also loves to share her story with the next generation of innovators, and she has spoken to over 150 audiences around the world about how they can use computer science to create change in their communities and in the world.

Dr. Beata Mierzwa studies how human cells divide and shares the beauty of science through art, fashion, and interactive media. Her postdoctoral research aims to advance the world’s understanding of cell division and improve cancer therapy. Beyond her academic career, Beata creates science-themed drawings and clothes. Her hand-drawn illustrations use metaphor to portray scientific concepts in intuitive ways, while her microscopy fashion celebrates the beauty of the molecular world. She also created a science video game, Microscopya, that invites players to explore the beauty inside our cells. Through her AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadorship for science outreach and her work with Young Women in Bio – Southern California, she aims to inspire creative students to pursue careers in STEM. For more information, please visit www.beatascienceart.com or follow @beatascienceart on social media.

Dr. Kimberley R. Miner is a Climate Scientist and Program Manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Her research on climate risks has taken her to the planet’s extreme environments- from the North Pole to Antarctica and Mt. Everest. Dedicated to science communication, Kimberley’s research teams have reached international audiences with features in the BBC, NYT, GQ, and a 2020 Guinness World Record. Before coming to NASA, Kimberley worked on climate security for the Department of Defense in DC, and holds a research professorship at University of Maine and Virginia Tech. She is also writing a book on how younger generations can plan for climate change–to be released in early 2025. Kimberley is a Black belt, wilderness Firefighter, and lives in a fishing harbor on the Pacific Ocean.

July 25 Comic-Con Nerd Nite!

Our next event takes place the Thursday of San Diego Comic-Con! We’re taking full advantage of the influx of nerds to our city. Details about the lineup are coming soon. There will be a panel of AAAS If/Then ambassadors representing kick-ass women in STEM plus a couple of scientists in town for the convention.

Tickets are on sale now!

Speaker Lineup for May 23, 2024

Buy your tickets here!

Ashley Juavinett, UCSD Professor, Author of “So You Want to Be a Neuroscientist?”

Title: “Anyone can be a neuroscientist — here’s how.”

Since the dawn of neuroscience, most of our data has been hidden behind closed laboratory doors. But these days, neuroscience data is freely out in the wild. Why aren’t you (or other people) hacking it yet?

Ashley Juavinett is a teaching professor in neurobiology at UC San Diego and the author of “So You Want To Be a Neuroscientist?” She received her PhD from UC San Diego, where she investigated the cell types and circuits underlying visual perception. Her current research focuses on developing best practices for training the next generation of neuroscientists. When she isn’t thinking or teaching, she is staring lovingly into her dog’s eyes.

Learn more about Ashley on her website and LinkedIn or follow her on X, BlueSky, and Mastadon.

Uduak George, SDSU Professor, NSF CAREER awardee, uses math and computational models to understand diseases

Title: “Understanding ductal network formation: why this is important”

Follow Uduak on LinkedIn and X.

Ductal network structures are common place in multiple organs in the body. These networks are vital for the proper functioning of the body. One example is the pancreas ducts which transport digestive enzymes secreted in the pancreas to the small intestine. Another example is the mammary ducts which facilitate the delivery of secreted milk to breastfeeding infants.  In this talk, I will discuss our current knowledge of the very complex interactions that occur during ductal network formation and will highlight why it is important to gain more insight into these interactions.

Uduak Z. George, Ph.D.  is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at San Diego State University (SDSU). She completed her PhD in Mathematics at the University of Sussex, England, United Kingdom. Dr. George combines computational modeling with artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain deeper insights into the processes that drive biological development and impact health conditions. Dr. George is a recipient of the 2023 NSF CAREER Award. She was named an SDSU Presidential Research Fellow in 2023.

Trevor Valle, Paleontologist and Creative Consultant

Title: “Reentry to Runway: Landing a Space Shuttle”

Imagine you’re in a flying brick with stubby little wings 400,000ft over South America wrapped in a ball of 3000°F plasma hurtling toward the ground, aiming for a 300ft wide, 3 mile long strip of concrete 5000 miles away. You’re also traveling at around Mach 25 so you have 17 and a half minutes to go from really, really fast to zero, safely. And you only have one chance to do it.

Trevor Valle has been a Nerd Nite regular across the country since 2014, and is primarily known as a paleontologist, biologist, and role-playing game historian. What you might not know is that he is a 4-time graduate of Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, has been invited to California Science Center events to speak about the Endeavour orbiter on display, and has successfully completed over two dozen simulated landings at Space Camp and NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Learn more about Trevor on his website and Wikipedia page. And follow him on X and LinkedIn.

May 23 Nerd Nite!

Tickets for our next event are already on sale here https://events.humanitix.com/nerd-nite-san-diego-48

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