Nerd Nite #9 is going to be a little different than our previous iterations. Throughout November the U of A’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) is having their first ever Festival of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (FURCA). We are helping them cap the month off at Nerd Nite with a showcase of some of their excellent nerds. The URI loves nerds. They’re all about creating a supportive environment for students to hone their nerd skills and to explore whatever they’re passionately nerdy about. That’s a mission we can get behind. So, rather than three presentations we’re having five. Four shorter presentations from the URI students and one typical length one from an individual who is well established in his field. It’ll be different but it’ll be awesome. On with the details!

When: November 28, 2013 (doors @ 7:30p, show @ 8)
Where: The Club (Citadel Theatre, 9828-101A Avenue Edmonton)
[Children 17 & Under Will Not Be Admitted]

Robotic Evolution
Adam Parker

At an ever increasing pace, robotics are being used to improve the quality of our lives. In a short span of time, consumers have progressed from having access to simple machines to owning robots that do our vacuuming and mow our lawns. Having robots help us is all well and good, but what if they could actually make us better? What if robots could improve us by augmenting our bodies? What utility might an extra limb offer? Why not a tail to help with balance? Or how about an accessory to portray emotion? In this presentation we will explore the possibilities of wearable robotics in the near and distant future. Fear not, you will not be assimilated during this presentation.

Bio: Adam received a diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering tech from SAIT then, after approximately 6 month in the field, he decided it wasn’t for him. Lots and lots of nights, forever. His academic idol is Nikola Tesla, and his comic book idol is Iron Man. Put together, electrical engineering seemed to be the ticket. Adam is in his second year at the University of Alberta studying electrical engineering with a focus on nano. He also works with Patrick Pilarski on artificial intelligence and communication for prosthetic limbs. When not studying or working, Adam will likely be be found participating in an 18th century or Viking re-enactment. More nerd cred? He owns a musket.

Following Threads: From China to India (without getting stuck on the knots)
Ann Salmonson

Research grant in hand, days before purchasing my flight to China, and possessed by a fervent love of Qing Dynasty robes and their opulent embroidery; I lose all signs of the master embroiderer I hoped to find. A timely e-mail, a steadfast friend, and the illogical results of a Google search send me off on an adventure of unimaginable scope. From the politics of China’s traditional Han embroidery to spending time teaching sewing to refugee Tibetan Nuns finding solace in India; sidestepping the roadblocks and searching for answers, I continue on to find, among other things, that the Dalai Lama’s Tailor is a really nice guy.

Bio: As well as being a fourth year Human Ecology student, Ann is the cutter and tailor for the University of Alberta’s Drama Department. Her love of textiles and clothing includes perspectives ranging from practical, historical, cultural, social, environmental, economic and technological. Her passion for Chinese textile and embroidery traditions developed over a summer of studying with the MacTaggart Art Collection. Ann is on the board of the University of Alberta’s Fashion Culture Network and a member of the Edmonton Needlecraft Guild. In 2012, she was the recipient of a Timms Theatre Innovation Fund grant to explore CAD pattern drafting, 3D body scanning and the use of avatars in costume and pattern development in a theatre wardrobe setting.

Dinosaurs in our Backyard
Katherine Bramble

Did you know that dinosaurs have been found in Edmonton? Long before we called Edmonton home, Edmonton was home of the Edmontonsaurus. That’s why we call it Edmonton – good thing they didn’t find Bruhathkayosaurus! The Danek Bonebed is found in southern Edmonton and contains the fossils of a herd of edmontosaurs, plus bits and pieces of five other kinds of dinosaurs. The site has seen a considerable amount of research by palaeontologists from the University of Alberta and from around the world. What do we know about this herd of edmontosaurs? How did they die? And, what can we learn from their remains 73 millions years after they perished?

Bio: Katherine Bramble has a thing for dinosaurs; she loves them so much that she moved across the country to study them at the University of Alberta. She is currently finishing the final year of her undergraduate degree in palaeontology. Katherine then plans to move into the masters program and study dinosaurs as a starving grad student at the University of Alberta. This is her second undergraduate degree and she swears she won’t do a third.

Zebrafish are Awesome
Shubham Shan

Zebrafish are tiny minnow fish native to the Himalayan region in India, Pakistan and China. And, they’re awesome. They are an important vertebrate animal model which have been involved in variety of important scientific findings in various fields. Zebrafish are widely used for research in addiction studies, embryology, neurophysiology, electrophysiology, genetics, vision and auditory studies, to name a few. In this presentation, we will look at zebrafish morphology and some exciting results they’re producing.

Bio: Shubham is a full time student at the University of Alberta, currenly doing a B.Sc in Physiology (honors). He enjoys learning new things about the human body and is always amazed by its wonders. His true passion is medical research as he has had accomplished research in Pediatrics (Oncology, Hematology and Gastroenterology) and Neurophysiology. Shubham sits on several boards including the Undergraduate Physiology Students’ Association, Pre-Medical Students’ Association, Golden Key International Honours Society, Canadian Digestive Health Foundation Initiative, Canadian Liver Foundation, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. When he does have free time (which never happens!), he enjoys an intense game of badminton, watching Modern Family and eating himself into a diabetic coma.

Kim Solez

Kim Solez is a physician techno-geek who reads various organ transplant biopsies under the microscope and sets the standard for how such biopsies are read by other doctors. For the past twenty-two years he has run the international meeting that expands and makes further changes to these global medical classification systems. In 1999 this meeting incorporated poetry for the first time. In 2002 Kim also began organizing separate musical, art, and poetry events celebrating the birthday of iconic Canadian poet, singer, songwriter Leonard Cohen. He met with Leonard over a three-day weekend in November 2005. Leonard described Kim as being “serially surreal.” A robotic dog accompanied him on the visit.

In 2011 Kim began teaching and directing a unique University course on Technology and the Future of Medicine, LABMP 590, which any Nerd Nite audience member could attend. This massively multidisciplinary course involves the best and brightest lecturers and students from all Faculties within the University. The course explores the possibility of a future post-scarcity world of abundance where any experience you want you can have because virtual reality is better than real reality. Kim is convinced that poetry is a universal component of humanness and that poetry is able to accomplish important things in the world which nothing else can.

Kim Solez is Professor of Pathology at the University of Alberta. In 2010 he took a 9-day course at Singularity University teaching about exponential technologic change and the future merger of humans and machines when machines become smarter than we are, the technological Singularity predicted to occur in 2045. He always wanted to be a spy and his interests in the Singularity in music have caused him to be a regular stealth listener to Hot 107, a local radio station catering to the mainstream musical tastes of teens and 20-somethings which assumes that they have no older people or physicians in their audience. He doesn’t know anyone else who listens to Hot 107. He has an official alter ego, David Crippen at the University of Pittsburgh, a totally cool doctor dude who is completely unlike him in every way.