The Nerd Nite Edmonton T-Shirt Design Contest

nerd nite nebula

Announced at our last Nerd Nite (#37), we’re now running this contest until November 7, 2017 at 11:59pm.

Submit your T-shirt design to before the deadline and you could win:

  • Two tickets to Nerd Nites #39 to 46 inclusive (Jan-Nov 2018).
  • $50 in Needle GCs per show.
  • Everlasting recognition at all NN shows and on our website.

We’ll accept multiple submissions (that is, more than one submission per person). The winner will be selected by a panel of 3-5 AlumNerds (former presenters).

Nerd Nite #38: Pre-Xmas Nite of the Nerds


Only, what? Like 37 days between NN #38 and Christmas? Well, you could worry about your Christmas shopping (or whatever occasion you celebrate around the Winter Solstice, up to and including the Solstice itself), or you could huddle close to some fellow nerds, and learn about things other people won’t even imagine… because they’ve never been to a Nerd Nite before!

Be there AND be square.

When: Wednesday, Nov 8, 2017 (show @ 8pm)
Where: The Needle Vinyl Tavern (10524 Jasper Avenue)
Tickets: on sale at
$20 in advance
$10 peanut gallery tickets
[Must be 18 years or older]

Our line-up of talks includes:

How you get a Flesh Searing Relativistic Particle Cannon to Zap Cancer Cells
Chad Hay

Cancer sucks. There is a lot of fear and tragedy associated with this disease. This talk isn’t going there. Instead, we’ll explore External Beam Radiation Therapy, a very cool technology in the fight against cancer that is making it possible to view cancer as a chronic illness. Specifically, we’ll explore the moment when a patient is laying on the bed of a linear accelerator waiting for a beam of high-energy particles to destroy carefully targeted cancer cells in their body and what it takes to get this patient to that crucial point.

Chad Hay is a senior consultant with CancerControl Alberta. He has led a series of projects there focused on quality, efficiency and the patient experience. These include transitioning radiation therapy treatment delivery to a fully electronic process, implementing electronic prescriber ordering in a cancer centre, and optimizing the utilization models for Daycare chemotherapy delivery. The challenge has been getting brilliant clinicians to re-assess how they view their operations. The reward (beyond successful delivery) has been working with some amazing people and learning a tremendous amount from them, some of which I can now share with you.

Birds don’t give a Dam: Politics of wildlife conservation and developmental projects in the Himalayas
Titash Choudhury

Over the last decade, the Himalayas, has not only become a potential energy frontier to meet world’s surging energy demands, but an opportunity for those in the state seeking political and financial independence. Dams are celebrated and endorsed as a “clean” and “renewable” energy sources that ensure sustainable development, and politicians and major corporations are making promises of great economic benefits and job opportunities arising from these projects. However, rapid development, and the deficiencies of environmental and social impact assessment have provoked political and social debates in the region. Simultaneously, development in this biodiversity rich and geographically fragile region, has raised concerns among wildlife biologists, ecologists and experts resulting in ongoing interaction and negotiation between scientists or experts and the indigenous community. There are interesting parallels between resource politics in northern Alberta and the Himalayas on how different stakeholders such as developers, conservationists, government deploy narratives of change; articulate their respective claims over resources and the power relations within and between these different stakeholders.

Titash Choudhury recently completed her second Master’s degree in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Alberta. Her project was in the eastern Himalayas among the Monpa community. From working in the laboratory to doing fieldwork in one of the world’s largest stretch of mangrove forest, the Sunderbans Delta, she studied the human tiger conflict in the landscape. Currently Titash works with the City of Edmonton as a sustainable scholar to understand the perceptions of Edmontonians in regards to energy transition and the implication of the policies of the government on the community.

Learning to see culture: VR learning worlds in ethnographic film research
Michael MacDonald

The immediate response to my first short documentary film shot with a spherical VR camera was: “Whoa, I need to sit down, that made me feel sick.” Filming with a VR camera allows viewers with VR headsets to look around the video, no longer watching the screen from a distance, you are somehow located in an educational space. A VR pedagogical film is no longer passive, it creates a VR environment that students can explore. This is a new space for educational filmmakers, creating preplanned environments. For cultural studies researchers, it provides an opportunity to rethink how we make films and how we think about education. VR video has the potential to allow researchers to share fieldwork in radically new ways. And create an opportunity for students to experience activities and places, unlike anything previous fieldwork technology has allowed. Previous kinds of filmmaking, like Cinema Verite, worked to help the viewer feel like you were there. But VR learning worlds do it at an existential level that is nothing short of disconcerting.

Michael B. MacDonald is a filmmaker, ethnomusicologist, and associate professor of music in the faculty of Fine Arts and Communications at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His research focuses on youth and community studies, ethnographic film, and the critical pedagogy of music. He has published two books: “Playing for Change: Music Festivals as Community Learning and Development” and “Remix and Life Hack in Hip Hop: Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Music”, and is the director of Michael’s films are freely available at

Nerd Nite #37: Octoberween

It’s October, and that means a time to give thanks for nerds and to nerds, and probably to dress up as something we’re not at some point. Will your nerd bosses come in costume? Will there be a giant roasted turkey with all the fixins? Almost certainly no! But there will be three fantastic speakers the likes of which you have probably never seen drunk.

Be there AND be square.

When: Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 (show @ 8pm)
Where: The Needle Vinyl Tavern (10524 Jasper Avenue)
Tickets: on sale NOW at
$20 in advance
$10 peanut gallery tickets
[Must be 18 years or older]

Our line-up of talks includes:

Pineapples: The most interesting fruit in the world
Andrew Williams

Of all the fruit, pineapples have the most bizarre, fascinating, and shocking history and biology. For just a taste of how bizarre, can you name another fruit that can dissolve your fingerprints, was used as a status symbol at Victorian parties, and was grown in England in the 1700s under piles of manure? This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the weird world of pineapples. In my talk, I’ll take you on a journey around the world and through history, stopping off at royal palaces, wild jungles, and 70s TV sitcoms to break down the how the humble pineapple has influenced human culture over the years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your sex life may even be improved by the end of it. There’s only one way to find out!

Bio: I’m not a biologist. I’m not a historian (though I do have a history degree). I’m actually a marketing strategist and music producer by trade. But for the last 10 years or so, facts about pineapples seem to find their way to me. What started as a set of humorous facts that I’d tell at parties to get a laugh, slowly built up into a part time obsession. Over the years I’ve read books, done research, and amassed a horde of useless, but interesting, information about pineapples. My friends now send me pictures of pineapples wherever they come across them and whenever I’m given gifts, they are usually pineapple themed. It’s a fun life, and I want to share it with you.

Spider butts and spit glands: Adventures in working with Galleria mellonella silk
Mary Glasper

Have you heard about those plastic-eating worms in the news? I work with those! One summer, while working in an entomology lab, my supervisor asked, “Have you ever looked at Galleria silk? It’s really strong and they produce a TON of it.” Suddenly, a master’s thesis was born. Galleria mellonella, a.k.a. the greater wax moth, is a pest of beehives and is also a popular model organism for the study of medically significant mammalian pathogens. In this talk, I’ll share with you how to collect, process, and characterize this silk as a textile fibre. Could it be a viable alternative to spider silk? Come and find out! Spoiler: I don’t feed them plastic.

Bio: Mary Glasper has been a fan of our many-legged friends and of fibres for as long as she can remember, and has professional experience in both Entomology and Textile Science. She earned her BSc in Biological Sciences & Human Ecology from the University of Alberta, and is currently completing her MSc in Textile Science. It’s only natural that she would combine both of her interests by studying how bugs create fibres! When she’s not working on her thesis, Mary volunteers her time for student groups and outreach initiatives, is doing some kind of odd job on campus (lighting fabric on fire or feeding bugs), or is at home creating her latest embroidery project.

Cat pee, baby vomit & bottle bombs and other ways you can seriously screw up beer
Kirk Zembal & Shane Groendahl

We hope you didn’t come to learn how to home-brew your own beer. You’ll be sent down a very, very wrong path. Instead, we’re going to turn our brewing brains upside down and show you exactly—in more detail than you’d ever want—what happens when beer goes horribly wrong. And just think—every example we’ll give comes from somebody’s personal experience. Maybe it will dissuade you from signing up for brewing school to learn the particulars of adjectives like “goat-y”, “sewer-ish”, “nail polish”, “roadkill” or “blood-like”. Getting paid to drink beer isn’t always the best job in the world, we swear!

Kirk Zembal & Shane Groendahl met over beers some years ago—or they assume they did because they can’t really remember. (It was probably an Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous—a group Shane started—event). Together with a few other beer geeks they started Blindman Brewing out of Lacombe. They’ve drank some of the best beer in the world together and some of the absolute worst. They prefer the former.