Nerd Nite #39: A New Year and a new venue!

We’re saying goodbye to the dumpster fire that was 2017—where the only highlight was spending time with lovely nerds; and saying hello to 2018, which will hopefully include nerdy learning and nerdy drinking. We have a new home at the ATB Financial Arts Barns in the heart of Old Strathcona, and we’re so excited to host you in our new space!

Be there AND be square.

When: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 (show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: On sale NOW at the Fringe Box Office
$20 in advance (service charges apply)
[Must be 18 years or older]

Our line-up of talks includes:

Living organs, outside of your body! From preservation to organ repair
Allan Wu

“But Allan, don’t your organs need to be inside your body being pumped with blood and stuff?” Yes, but machines can do the same things for us now! From heart-lung bypass and ECMO to hemodialysis in renal therapy, we have gained the ability to replace various bodily supports for organs. Yet there is still much to be learned when it comes to developing technologies to support individual organs outside of the body – could we one day repair our own organs outside the body in lieu of transplants? Today we will talk about some recent breakthroughs in the field of ex vivo organ perfusion and the challenges to come.

Allan is a graduate student at the University of Alberta studying Ex Vivo Kidney Perfusion. He is passionate about physiological research and sharing exciting new discoveries. Allan studies in a lab focused on ex vivo organ perfusion and stem cell research, where biomedical engineering, industrial design, and medical research come together to create magic! Throughout his undergraduate and graduate careers, Allan continues to spearhead student initiatives for community outreach and engagement in science. In his spare time, Allan volunteers as a first aid responder with St Johns Ambulance and works as a lifeguard with the City of Edmonton.

WTF, Autonomous Vehicles won’t solve the world’s transportation problems?
Megan Strickfaden

Hype about autonomous vehicles is everywhere. Automobile companies around the world are fighting to be the first ones to launch the ultimate autonomous vehicle that will solve the world’s transportation problems. But can they make the mark and satisfy all the wants, desires and expectations of our diverse and needy society? Not yet. This talk focuses on a recent collaboration with researchers at Cambridge’s Engineering Design Centre. Highlights include: an overview of the new wave or autonomous vehicles; public perceptions of autonomous vehicles; future users of autonomous vehicles; and (most importantly) an analysis of the directions that automotive companies need to take in order to create meaningful anti-universally designed vehicles. This presentation promises to debunk normative approaches to creating adapted designs for persons with differing abilities. It will also bring awareness to the limitations and viability of various technological solutions.

Megan Strickfaden is a migrant who has lived in seven exotic countries including Canada. She currently makes a home in Edmonton’s University of Alberta at the Department of Human Ecology. Megan is an associate professor of design studies who has built her career around solving complicated problems for people who live without sight, people who move around speedily on wheels, and/or people who are considered to process the world differently from other. In her spare time, Megan has co-edited one book, written another, written 56 journal publications and chapters, produced/directed 13 films with 5 underway, designed/curated 19 exhibitions, been involved in the design of 44 products, and holds 2 patents. Her biggest claims to fame were involvement with: the dementia village ‘de Hogeweyk’ in the Netherlands, the Brussels Metro System STIB/MIVB in Belgium, Alain Mikli International in France, and Alberta Ability Lodges Society in Canada.

Stone Dildos and Porno Pots — Sex and the Archaeological Record
Katie Biittner

To archaeologists even the most mundane objects can reveal many exciting and interesting things about the lived experiences of people in the past. This also means that archaeologists must acknowledge that those things, which at first glance, that seem fantastic could in fact be mundane. Is that carved rock really a marital aid? Why do those figures have such large breasts? Did Moche rulers really serve guests using vessels with such explicit sexual imagery? What is pornography and wtf will people in the future think about us based on the junk we leave behind? In this talk Dr. Biittner will examine how our own biases, especially those regarding sexuality, influence our interpretations of artifacts.

Dr. Katie Biittner is the Anthropology Lab Instructor at MacEwan University. Katie’s passion for archaeology has led her to participate in excavations in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Idaho, and Tanzania. Her current archaeological research focuses on the Stone Age and Historic archaeology and Cultural Heritage in Tanzania. Since her last Nerd Nite Edmonton appearance, Katie has continued to corrupt undergrads with the anthropological perspective and acquired a new tattoo. When not in the classroom, Katie can be found arguing about cutie marks with her kiddo and role playing possibly the worst bard ever.

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