What happened in August

After a hiatus in July for Nerd Nite Speed Dating and the National Geographic/Nerd Nite/Comic Con party, Nerd Nite San Diego #11 was back to our regular awesomeness at 32 North Brewing in Mira Mesa! As a special welcome-back, schmancy donuts were courtesy of the most generous badasses at Devil’s Dozen Donut Shop (and the San Diego Boss, thanks to her shameless solicitation of gifts from strangers). Beach-n-Bowls food truck was also there, offering local tastiness for those who wanted “real food” and not “just donuts and beer for dinner”.

Dr. William Nericcio brought us The Trials and Tribulations of a Humble (Strange!?) English Professor: Tex[t]-Mex, Mextasy, Eyegiene, and Technosexualities in Paris, Rome, and Beyond

Notorious Mexican-American literature professor, public intellectual, artist, and troublemaker, William Nericcio was born in the fabled “Streets of Laredo,” (or at Mercy Hospital, at any rate). For years he labored under the watchful (sinister?), eyes of siblings and priests at Catholic schools – contributing to internet rumors that he was “raised by nuns”. With an PhD in Comparative Literature from Cornell University, Nericcio now works as the Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.

Tuesday evening we learned about his last decade as a Professor of English and Cultural Studies, beginning with the circumstances surrounding his award-winning book Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America, followed by his traveling exhibition (and would-be TV pilot) Mextasy. We’ll end with a peek at his new work Eyegiene: Permutations of Subjectivity in the Televisual Age of Sex and Race, and his latest project Robotic Erotic Electric: Techosexual Metamorphoses in the 21st Century.

Alien Education: Keep Your Filthy Paws Off My Uranium

In this talk, we learned the seldom-told tale of the Futures Panel. Advised by the most awesome Dr. Frank Drake (Astrophysicist; Pioneer of SETI, Project Ozma, Voyager Satelite Program, and Extraterrestrial Communications; Member of the Futures Panel), Dr. Ed Strong brought us the story of a small group tasked by Congress to solve a life and death problem: the waste from America’s growing nuclear stockpiles cannot be simply buried and forgotten. Can humans solve the “Forever Problem” by designing a communications system effective across language, culture, intelligence … and all of time to come? And if we do, will the “aliens” listen?

Edward Strong has a Doctorate in Genetics and Genomics. He lives in San Diego while doing his level best to avoid the research lab he was trained to work in. Together with his startup partners, Edward is developing a consumer-focused genetic information service. He also works to help other businesses understand development opportunities associated with recreational genetic testing.

Nothing Butt Time (The Boss gets to name all untitled talks, according to her favorite phrases in the description. Future speakers be warned).

The night’s final talk may have inspired us all to trade in our chairs for dorky standing workstations: Dr. Jacqueline Kerr, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD, showed us how to measure butt time, how to gtfo of our chairs, and why we’ll all feel much better for it.

What happened in July

July our regular event was suspended in lieu of two special events: Nerd Nite-Nat Geo-ComicCon and Nerd Nite Speed Dating!

For the 4th year in a row, NatGeo teamed up with Nerd Nite for a FREE special SDCC edition.  This Nite took the audience on an intergalactic journey through Earth and to Mars to celebrate the space exploration. Mars vs. Earth – a classic battle! Saturday July 22, 2017 from 7-11pm at the rooftop terrace and pool at Hotel Solamar at 435 Sixth Avenue in the Gaslamp District.  The Nite featured three funny-yet-smart presentations by JPL’s Bobak Ferdowsi (‘The Mohawk Guy’) and Mallory Lefland, former NASA astronaut Jerry M. Linenger, and Aaron Sagers (Editor-at-Large of Blastr.com). FREE FOOD and DRINKS!

NatGeo Nerd Nite SDCC 2017_DigitalEvite Final

The first-ever Nerd Nite Speed Dating event in San Diego was held at Nate’s Garden Grill near City Farmer’s Nursery. Tickets included a drink or a biscuit sundae *drool* and ten dates with eligible nerds looking for friendship and companionship. A few people got cold feet, but everyone who participated met someone interesting. We’ll be doing this again in the future!

What happened in June

“The Lighter Side of San Diego’s Past”
San Miguel, or as we know it, San Diego, was once the end of the earth to European explorers. Today, everyone wants to live here. June’s second presentation highlights many of the little-known facts about our region and how we went from a sleepy outpost pueblo … to the eighth-biggest city in the United States.
Matthew Schiff is the Marketing Director for the San Diego History Center, and author of an autobiography on Douglas Pardee (of Pardee Homes) as well as several articles for The Journal of San Diego History. He decided to wear horizontal stripes to his talk because fuck it! He’s engaged now and it no longer matters.
“CRISPR the Disrupter: A New Era in Biology”
We are in the midst of a revolution in molecular biology thanks to CRISPR technology. In just a few short years, a repurposed bacterial immunity system is rapidly becoming a standard laboratory tool. Scientists are using CRISPR across a wide variety of disciplines from medicine and agriculture to biofuels and industrial food production. This talk explored a little about what CRISPR is and where it came from, and a little about the applications and challenges moving forward. It is an exciting time to be a molecular biologist!
Nick Brideau has a PhD in genetics and studied fruit fly speciation as a graduate student. He then moved across the Atlantic to drink British ale (and study epigenetics) before recently landing in San Diego. He currently works at the Salk Institute and is focused on finding and developing new CRISPR systems.
“Fission! What is it Good for? Absolutely Something!”
Approximately 20% of America’s electricity comes from nuclear fission; however, most Americans are unaware of how nuclear power works, or even what a nuclear reactor looks like! How *do* nuclear reactors work, and what makes a “good” reactor?
Popular alumnerd Anthony Neuberger examined the future of nuclear fission for our planet.

Nerd Nite Speed Dating!

heart nerds

Looking for your intellectual significant other? Tinder isn’t offering you a content-based approach? Nerd Nite speed dating is a rare and special event, like ball lightning!

Here’s the deal: $15 gets you a drink (or a bisciut sundae, if you take more after my own heart), and more three-minute dates than most of us have been on in our lives, all in one compact evening. If you’re the introverted type, don’t fret: I’ve made helpful and relevant slides to grease your conversations.

Suggestion: bring an item that relates to you (origami bow-tie; picture of your cat; favorite book; Luke Skywalker action figure; homemade treat.

This particular event will be hetero-normative (sorry), until other interests are expressed.

*** Tickets will be up soon; much like a Kickstarter submission, we need a certain amount of interest for this event to take place. If enough tickets for BOTH sexes do not sell, your tickets will be refunded. ***


What happened in May

“That’s Not a Fucking Dinosaur! Misconceptions about Paleontology”

Ross Gellar. Jurassic Park/World. Dinobots. Barney. The idiocy of creationist museums. Pop culture has this on again/off again love affair with the reality of paleontology, but refuses to take it out to dinner and really listen. Let’s bust one of the most basic misconceptions: what the fuck makes a dinosaur a dinosaur.

Trevor Valle is a field paleontologist and Cicerone Certified Beer Server. Previously a biologist, Trevor stumbled into a job as Assistant Lab Supervisor at the Page Museum (at the La Brea Tar Pits) and ended up becoming a paleontologist. In 2013, National Geographic sent him on expedition to Siberia for 6 weeks searching for frozen woolly mammoths for the documentary “Mammoths Unearthed”. He has presented 6 times at Nerd Nites in LA, ComicCon, and Orlando.

Our second speaker was UCSD postdoctoral fellow Heather Bell! Heather has a PhD in Neuroscience and specializes in bee communication.

“Hive Mind: What Bees Have to Say”

Honey bee colonies are considered by many researchers to be “superorganisms.” That is, even though they are made up of many autonomous individuals, each colony is capable of remarkably cohesive, sophisticated, and intelligent behavior – like foraging efficiently for food, waging war on neighbors, and finding new homes. What’s even more amazing is that they do this without any “leader” directing their behavior (the queen’s job is to lay eggs, not to give orders). Heather discussed some of the fascinating ways that bees have evolved to talk to each other and get things done!

“Bugs: Their Greatest Hits”

Rockabilly cicadas, calypso fleas, indie mayflies, and jam band ants. Insects inspire and create music. The ever-popular Michael Wall, entomological nerd, journeyed into the six-legged music scene in this final installment of the buggiest of trilogies: Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll!

What happened in April

April 2017 was Nerd Nite San Diego’s first event at 32 North Brewery in Miramar, and it was a crowd! Two food trucks – sausages and Belgian waffles – and plenty of excellent beer kept us going!

Our UX Prototyper Laura Nunnery wasn’t able to make it after accepting a job at Facebook, so our last-minute speaker-savior was Carlo Emami! Carlo has a Master’s in Public Policy and wrote his dissertation on workplace fatalities. He is an EMT and the owner of Safewest, where he teaches people how to not die at work.

Carlo’s talk was aptly titled “That Shit is Dangerous!” and it explored the fascinating and sometimes confounding world of hazard communication. Carlo showed us how to decode the mysterious world of hazcom! He’s also ridiculously good looking.

“How San Diego’s Genomics Industry is Changing the World (and your beer)” Genomics is the study of the genome, its functions and possible applications for healthcare, biotechnology and even social science. In this growing industry, San Diego is quickly becoming a world-wide hub for the technology behind the research, as well as its applications. We explored who the key players are within the industry, why this will affect you and your family (in a good way!), as well as how scientists are working on a way to make your beer even better!

Brian Steffy is a Senior Manager on the Professional Services team at Illumina, Inc., a San Diego-based tech company whose mission is to improve human health by unlocking the power of the genome. He has been in the biotech industry for over 20 years, studying the genetics behind Alzheimer’s disease, Diabetes, and the process of wound healing. Brian also has a passion for education, volunteering to help create curriculum with local school districts.

“Mothers, Microbes, and Merriment: The Art and Science of Next-gen Kombucha!” This talk explored the art, science, and health benefits of this delightful fermented beverage that dates back to 220 B.C. and is currently experiencing an explosion in popularity. We investigated the details of fermentation, what microbes are involved and how each contributes to the community, and the secret of using low alcohol kombucha to create a delicious alcoholic beverage.

Maxi Richmond received her PhD from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her studies have focused on the diversity, systematics, and community ecology of a range of organisms including microbes, beetles, and flies. She recently started applying her expertise to kombucha as the Senior Research Scientist at Boochcraft, a purveyor of high alcohol kombucha in Chula Vista.

What happened in March

We started the third event of the year (our last at Liberty Public Market) with a stellar lineup!

Basic Nuclear Reactions, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Radiation

Will gamma rays make you big and get angry? Will a radioactive spider bite let you shoot webs from your wrists? Do radioactive things glow green? Thanks to movies, comics, and television, few fields of science are more misunderstood than nuclear reactions. What types of nuclear reactions are there? Why do atoms decay? What happens when they do? What can you do about it? (Hint: not much). What happens if you get irradiated? (Answer: probably nothing). Anthony dove into the mechanics of the nucleus, where the rules of classical physics break down, and explained some phenomena that even comic book writers call … impossible!

Anthony Neuberger has a degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of New Mexico, where he studied fission reactor design and did research at Sandia National Laboratories. He currently works with Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (shit yeah). When he is not working he spends as much time diving as possible, because water is better at stopping neutrons than air.

Composites 101 – Strings, Glue, and You….

As mankind embarks upon deeper and deeper space missions, structural materials need to be lighter weight, stiffer, and stronger. Even at home on earth, everyday structures (cars, airplanes, and bridges) are beginning to require mass efficiencies to combat rising costs and limited energy resources. Composite materials are showing up as a solutions to these challenges. So what are composites? And what makes a bunch of strings and glue so special, anyway?

Ken Mercer! As the Vice President of San Diego Composites, Ken leads the Space and Stable Structures group – a team chartered with the design, analysis, and qualification of material solutions for large scale/lightweight flight structures (sweet flying machines). Ken has degrees in Structural Mechanics from both Georgia Tech and Purdue University … but has somehow spent his career trying to stick spools of fiber together in weird shapes. When he’s not doing that, Ken spends his time chasing women. Namely, his three daughters (Madelyn, Lila, and Sabrina) and his favorite person in the world: his wife Margaret.

Finally! To the Stars….

Begining with a very quick history of rocket science, this talk was an introduction to one of Paulus’ inventions and its contribution to star travel. Read: the latest NASA paper currently making waves about EM drive propulsion! This is a technology that is going to actually take us to the stars…. THRUST!

Paulus Geantil is a physicist by education, and he’s worked in rocket science and robotics for over 20 years. He heads two companies in advanced robotic prototyping and energy storage, but coolest of all, he’s a wild inventor!


BIG NEWS ABOUT OUR NEW LOCATION! Nerd Nite is moving to 32 North Brewery in Miramar! Goodbye, flight path; hello … lesser flight path!

What happened in February

February’s Nerd Nite featured three totally rad local guys who delighted and maybe horrified you with their talks on LEGO, robots, and ultracycling!

Thinking Outside The Brick – LEGO, Art, and Creativity

Many an adult and parent bemoan how LEGO has changed since they were kids — that LEGO products aren’t just a big bucket of rectangular bricks and wheels anymore. With so many LEGO pieces heavily molded and specialized, is LEGO limiting creativity and dumbing down their products? Or is it just our imaginations that are limited? Andy took you on a tour of LEGO nerd-dom and showed you amazing creations that have been made by fans and artists thinking ‘outside of the brick’, proving that the only limit to what we can make (in LEGO or otherwise) is our own imagination.

Andy Grubb has been a professional LEGO artist, Master Model Builder, and attraction designer for LEGOLAND Developments (which builds new LEGOLAND parks around the world), since 2007. His work is featured in LEGOLAND parks and attractions around the globe. He’s played with LEGO products his entire life.

Why (Not) to Fear the Impending Robot Revolution

Robots are poised to impact many aspects of our lives, taking over dirty, dull, or dangerous jobs. Advances in technology (decreased cost of computation and data storage, wireless communication, rapid prototyping, etc.) are allowing robots to evolve beyond toys and vacuum cleaners – leaving the manufacturing line and coming into our homes and commercial spaces. What will we all do with our newfound free time? Wait for Skynet to take over and end humanity as we know it? Or curse at our laundry robots that are too slow and keep mismatching socks? What career path should I take to avoid being replaced by a robot? (hint: artisanal cheesemaker) Nick presented a brief history of robots, surveyed the state of the art, and made some predictions for the future.

Nick Morozovsky has a PhD in robotics from UC San Diego and a BS in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He has worked for Fortune 50 companies, toy companies, and startups. Nick’s first robot was made of LEGO, string, and Capsela and was designed to catch Santa. It did not work.

Ultra-cycling: A Lesson in Damage Control

Ultra-cycling is the sport of riding a bicycle non-stop in races that range from 200 miles – 3000 miles. The Race Across America is one of the biggest annual ultra-cycling events, and attracts athletes from around the world, the best of which complete the cross-country journey in less than 8 days. What kind of preparation do racers and their support crew undergo before these races? What kinds of things happen to the body of a racer during these long, physical efforts? What kinds of challenges are encountered during the race? David explored these questions and shared his experiences as a crew-member/photographer/filmmaker of various ultra-cycling teams.

David Su has been documenting the sport of ultra-cycling with his cameras for the last several years. He has vomited only twice while on the job. When he’s not hanging out of a moving car with his cameras trying to get a shot, he spends his time working as an engineer in the field of magnetic fusion energy. Holy shit that’s cool.

What happened in January

California condors are fucked! Dr. Carolyn Kurle

What’s grosser then eating rotting meat? Eating dead animals contaminated with persistent pollutants! California condors returned from the brink of extinction via strong conservation action after their population dropped to 22 animals in the 1980’s. Now, their recovery is threatened by poisoning from lead and persistent organic pollutants (DDT, PCBs, flame retardants, mercury) present in the carcasses they eat. Our research demonstrates that condors eating dead marine mammals on the coast in Big Sur, California contain high levels of these pollutants which puts them at risk for many things, including reduced fertility due to egg shell thinning.

tl;dr: see above talk title

Dr. Kurle is a professor of conservation ecology at UC San Diego with projects examining Antarctic and northern fur seals, California sea lions, sea turtles, Bahamian iguanas, bears in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, and zooplankton in the Pacific Ocean. One of the stranger things she studied was the effects of invasive rats on islands which required her to camp on rat infested Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. She came away from that experience loving rats. Except the ones that have occasionally appeared in her house in the middle of the night.

Countable Sets – or, Infinity is Very Big Dr. Randy Zack

Integers, rational numbers, polynomials, algebraic numbers, transcendental numbers, and an introduction to the concept of infinity itself! Need I say more? I could go on for-ev-er….

Dr. Zack earned a doctorate in mathematics from UCSD in 1988, but decided to pursue a career in software development. You probably know him from such Nerd Nites as San Diego, where you can hear him laughing from the front row and heckling the speakers. Your turn, Randy.

Finally, our third speaker is back … that’s right, back! It’s everyone’s favorite entomologist, Dr. Michael Wall! He’s returning to give part 2 of his 3 part series on insect sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Breaking Bug: Insects as Drug Lords, Pharmacists, and Addicts Dr. Michael Wall

It is not happenstance that a 70s blaxploitation drama about the drug underworld was titled “Super Fly.” Insects have been in the drug game for over 400 million years. They have been doing drugs, being drugs, or pushing plants to make drugs. In the seedy underworld of the underworld the original Pusherman had six legs and compound eyes, while other insects went legit. In other words, we’re going to have fun talking about the medicinal use of insects and their role in the evolution in recreational and medicinal drugs.

Dr. Wall is Curator of Entomology at the San Diego Natural History Museum and lover of all things buggy.

What happened in December

Nerd Nite San Diego #4 was a fun intro to three super interesting subjects!

Ryon Graf is a medical scientist working in the field of liquid biopsy cancer diagnostics. He did his PhD in Biomedical Sciences between Sanford Burnham Prebys and the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, focusing on how cancer spreads inside cancer patients. Ryon enjoys biostatistics, craft beer, and is really good at banging his head against a wall (essential for scientific progress).

The Future of Cancer Diagnostics: Liquid Biopsy

Cancer is a disease that can develop and evolve over a long time in a patient. Many cancers are difficult to detect at a stage that is easily treatable. For patients living with cancer, current standard of care is not very amendable to monitoring a patient’s cancer. Ryon’s talk discusses the ways that emerging technology is being developed to detect, track, and recommend the most effective treatments for cancer, using a routine blood draw: the “liquid biopsy.”

The next speaker is president and co-founder of Legacy 106, an investigative archaeology firm in southern California, so of course it follows that he will be introducing a wild topic about creating the future from the past … steampunk! It’s a combination of Victorian aesthetics and science fiction technology. Presenter Ron May shares steampunk’s history, its empowerment of women, and his own experiences exploring this strange and beautiful world. Tea battles, anyone? Consider this steampunk 101.

Speaker number three is biologist and physics teacher Tom Hamilton! Tom will be discussing the nature of matter, from atoms to quarks! He’s kind of like a local Carl Sagan. Need we say more?