Nerd Nite San Diego #3 was full of bio-badassery!

Our first speaker is microbiology postdoctoral fellow Marcy Erb. Marcy studies how phage interact with antibiotic producing bacteria! As a PhD student at UCSD she accidentally became a phage biologist, and as they say … once you go phage, you never go back.

We are facing a worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis: bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics faster than we are developing new ones. Bacteriophages – the viruses of bacteria – may be able to help us. They are the perfect bacterial assassins, having been in the bacteria killing business for the last 3 billion years. Not only can they teach us how to more creatively kill bacteria, but they may be hiding their own antibiotic secrets, too. Come hear about all the ways these viruses are bacterias’ worst nightmare – and humanity’s new best friend.

Our second speaker is Erik Peterson, a postdoctoral fellow in computational neuroscience at UCSD. He makes models of where biology and cognition meet.

Did you know that your brain makes waves? Electrical waves! We’ve known this since Hans Berger in 1929 put electrodes on people’s heads, and started recording. We also know these waves change as you remember, and ponder, and learn. But why there are waves at all, and what they do, isn’t fully clear. Come hear Erik talk about our best, most serious, theories for what brain waves do … by talking about things that happen at an EDM show! The music. The dancing. The sex. The drugs.

Our third speaker is coming all the way from San Francisco to talk about the greatest mass murderers of all time – cyanobacteria! Rick Zuzow is an entrepreneur working at the interface of science and social good. While doing a PhD at Stanford in biochemistry, he was seduced by their design school, and left academia to use science to design for the base of the economic pyramid. Rick is now the CTO of EarthEnable, a non-profit that uses the chemistry of plant oils to make ultra low-cost polymer floors in Rwanda.

During his PhD, Rick researched why cyanobacteria seem to naturally puke out compounds we think of as “jet fuel.” This is, surprisingly, one of the least insane things cyanobacteria have done. Chief amongst their accomplishments is poisoning the entire planet with their gaseous metabolic waste, or as you might know it, Oxygen. Rick’s talk will be a crash course in why multicellular life as we know it first required pond scum to poison the earth with photosynthetic farts.