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.

Nerd Nite #36: the Fall of the Nerds!

We’re back for another fun-filled season of interesting discussions, strange and fascinating topics and a community of fabulous Edmontonians who like combining education with potent potables! We’re working on some great new programming this season we’re going to be trying out, and we’ll be welcoming a new Nerd Boss into the fold. You won’t want to miss this season opener — it’ll be a doozy!

Be there AND be square.

When: Wednesday, Sept 6, 2017 (show @ 8pm)
Where: The Needle Vinyl Tavern (10524 Jasper Avenue)
Tickets: on sale Aug 21 at 11am at
$20 in advance
$10 peanut gallery tickets
[Must be 18 years or older]

Our line-up of talks includes:

What Can Stem Cells Do For You? Like, Actually Do
Alison Müller

Generalization about scientific discovery happens in the media regularly; however, in this era of stem cell science, the hyperbolizing of its potential in medicine coupled with its potential ethical implications has brought stem cell technology to forefront of popular science. This talk will explore the realistic possibilities of stem cell technology (which are still completely awesome!) as well as clarify the ethics around their use. Don’t worry, it’s much more exciting that it may initially appear, because SCIENCE!

Alison Müller, MSc, is a PhD Candidate in the Physiology Department at the University of Alberta. Her work with stem cells in patients with heart disease made her realize how little people actually knew about stem cells. As a result, she aims to educate others and has presented panels at the Edmonton and Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expos on science fiction inspired science fact with a focus on novel medical technologies. She also volunteers her time doing STEM outreach with kids with the national non-profit Let’s Talk Science where she can share her love of science with everyone! She was awarded the Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award for her community engagement.

Wormfood: Death Positivity vs Our Fear of Death
Dylan Richards

You are going to die. You, all of the people you love, the person sitting next to you right now, will all one day be food for worms. Death and everything about it terrifies most of us. But have you ever asked yourself why? When did our fear of the end of life, the common unifier of us all, become so ingrained? Is our fear of the Grim Reaper something we’ve always had, or something we learned along the way? Come with us as we take a look at what death and dying really means around the world, some common misconceptions about the end of our life, and how we can maybe learn to greet Death as an old friend.

Storyteller, activist, sex educator, and Death Positivity advocate, Dylan Richards brings his passion for helping people discover what makes them shine to classrooms, boardrooms, and gatherings around North America. Dylan loves to bring his stories and experience to every topic he tackles, from sexuality to spirituality to spaghetti (well, cooking in general but then it wouldn’t be as poetic).

Decolonizing Science & Technology
Kim TallBear

Indigenous peoples are usually at the receiving end of the scientific gaze. Settler states such as the US and Canada govern through science and technology that grows in part from social and political ideas of Indigenous peoples as populations on the verge of extinction. Assimilation has been pushed on those who remain. My work challenges colonial biomedical and technology interventions aimed at Indigenous populations. I study Indigenous resistance to such research, including genetics research, and I promote Indigenous efforts to govern and transform science and technology in ways that benefit our peoples rather than do us harm.

Kim TallBear is Associate Professor of Native Studies and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience and Environment at the University of Alberta. In a previous professional life she was an environmental planner and policy specialist for US federal agencies and tribal governments. She also produces the sexy storytelling show, Tipi Confessions, which will make its Needle Vinyl Tavern premier on October 30.

Nerd Nite #35: The Time of the Season, the End of the Season

This is it, kids, the final Nerd Nite of the 2016/17 season. After this one, we take a break over the summer to enjoy that sweet, painfully hot Edmonton sun. But for just one more night, you can ignore the playoffs and learn something from passionate nerds who just want to share. Be there AND be square.

When: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 (show @ 8pm)
Where: The Needle Vinyl Tavern (10524 Jasper Avenue)
Tickets: on sale April 12 at 10pm at
$20 in advance
$10 peanut gallery tickets
[Must be 18 years or older]

Our line-up of talks includes:

Life Lessons from a Bullshit Artist
Julian Faid

We’re all just making it up as we go along. Learn how the tenets of improvisation can help you in everyday life. Using a platform provided by sociologist Ervin Goffman’s social interaction theory “Dramaturgical model of social life”, get ready to listen to a talk that is sure to be more entertaining than this description. Because that’s a pretty low bar!

Julian Faid has been improvising for over 16 years. He has appeared in improv festivals in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and even the bustling metropolis of Regina. He has also represented Alberta at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington DC and was nominated for a New Zealand Comedy festival “Best Show” award. He is also the co-creator of TEDxRFT, the improvised Ted Talk, which won “Best of The Fest” at the Vancouver International Improv Festival 2015. Off stage, he works at the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta in marketing and communications.

The Art of Science and the Birth of Nanomedicine
Robert Burrell

Advances in science are usually the result of carefully planned experiments, their execution and analyses, but sometimes luck plays a significant role. Some of the world’s greatest discoveries were serendipity. In this talk we will look at some of those ‘lucky’ discoveries that have changed the course of mankind. We will start our voyage of discovery in merry old England in 1776 and move 200 years through time to 1996 in Edmonton, Alberta. This time frame will cover events from the greatest lifesaving technology of all time to the birth of nanomedicine and its promise for a better future.

Robert Burrell is a scientist innovator who is currently the chair of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alberta. Technologies he has developed include Acticoat dressings, the world’s first therapeutic application of nanotechnology. Acticoat has changed the lives of millions of people around the world. He has been recognized as a top Canadian innovator by the Governor General and the Manning Foundation.

Behind the Walls: Tales of Cooking Behind the Iron Curtain & under Michelin-stars
Doreen Prei

Have you ever wondered what is behind the wall in a restaurant kitchen, what you might find in a forest, or what your fish monger may bring to your kitchen door? Is it really so crazy hot with many long hours and too many drinks? Coming from East Germany, learning what food can do and how delicious it can be, is a story in and of itself. And while we’re at it, let’s do some nerdy cooking stuff because who can be still when talking about food!?!

A Michelin-star trained, award winning chef, Doreen has cooked in private restaurants and hotels in Germany, Ireland, and Canada. She completed her training in Berlin, Germany at First Floor Restaurant, before moving to Dublin where she cooked at the Four Seasons Hotel, Chapter One, and Gordon Ramsay at the Ritz Carlton. Now at Get Cooking, Doreen is teaching and finding new ingredients to cook with.