Nerd Nite #3

Hey nerds. We know that January is cold and you don’t want to leave your house. We have two good reasons though to fight the urge to hibernate, knowledge and beer. Escape the cold by joining Adam, Wade (your Edmonton Nerd Bosses), and our fantastic line-up of presenters at the Haven Social Club for more stimulating presentations and scintillating drink.

When: January 17, 2013 (doors @ 7:30p, show @ 8)
Where: Haven Social Club – 15120 Stony Plain Road
Cost: $10 + service charge (includes a free drink!)
Buy a ticket!

#1 – Scholarly Gym Rat
Lianne McTavish

Why would a 43-year-old full professor lift weights, lose 25 pounds, slather herself in orange tanning dye, and prance around in a crystal-encrusted bikini? To undertake embodied research as a competitive bodybuilder, of course. After pumping iron seriously for three years, I forged my seemingly separate identities as: 1) an academic specializing in seventeenth-century French visual culture, the history of the body, and critical museum theory, and 2) a fitness enthusiast able to bench press her own body weight. I entered a contest in the category called ‘Figure,’ which favours muscular physiques with wide, capped shoulders, broad upper backs, and well defined legs, but requires a softer appearance than traditional forms of bodybuilding. My scholarly research project allowed me to experiment with different methods of knowledge production, and I will describe them along with my research results.

Bio: Lianne McTavish (PhD, University of Rochester, 1996) is Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta, where she offers courses in early modern visual culture and critical museum theory. In addition to numerous articles, chapters, and exhibition catalogues, she has published two books, Childbirth and the Display of Authority in Early Modern France (Ashgate, 2005), and Defining the Modern Museum (University of Toronto Press, 2012). Lianne is currently completing another manuscript, inspired by her recent participation in a bodybuilding competition. For fun, she blogs at, cooks exotic meals, teaches spin classes, travels as much as possible, watches Coronation Street, and grunts while lifting heavy things at the gym.

#2 – Extreme Lutherie – Haiti 2012
Catherine Robertson

Wanting to further her skills in repair and restoration, Catherine moved to England for 3 years to attend the world renown Newark School of Violin Making where she specialized in restoration work. Upon completion of college, she traveled to Haiti with Luthieres sans Frontieres UK on a volunteer mission to assist in training local people in maintaining and repairing instruments in the thriving music programs there. She will be speaking to you about her rad trip to Haiti.

Bio: Catherine is a violin maker, player, repairer and lover. Upon landing an 18yr old violin nerd’s dream job at Alfie Myhre’s music shop, she has since been working in violin and guitar shops  doing repair work around Edmonton for 10 years. From working in banjo-friendly Alfie’s to shredder-heaven Axe Music, instrument setup, repair and restoration has become her life.  Not without A few deviations here and there – fiddling in a touring country band and fixing the score clock at Rexall Place.

#3 – Hands on Mars
Chris Herd

For centuries the planet Mars has been a source of inspiration and trepidation, its influence reflected in art, culture and science. Even as the space age has grounded Mars as a harsh, inhospitable place, its exploration today remains driven by the search for life.  Mars exploration has revealed that Martians have been visiting Earth for thousands of years as chunks of the Red Planet have fallen to Earth as meteorites. What do these meteorites tell us about Mars? Does holding one make you more aggressive?  Together we’ll explore Mars through its visiting meteorites, and learn what role they have to play in understanding if life exists elsewhere.

Bio: Chris is an associate professor in geology at the University of Alberta. His training in meteorite research comes from a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, postdoctoral research at the NASA Johnson Space Center, and a sabbatical at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Chris curates the University of Alberta meteorite collection, the largest University-based collection in Canada, and which includes some fine Martian specimens.  When not professoring, Chris enjoys a good martini, hiking with his wife and kids, playing basketball, and reading science fiction.

Nerd Nite #2

Hey nerds. Our first nite was a sold out success and Edmonton nerds are clamoring (very calmly and orderly) for more. We’ve almost tripled our capacity for our second iteration, so escape the cold and snow by joining Adam and Wade (your Edmonton Nerd Bosses) at the Haven Social Club for more stimulating presentations and scintillating drink.

When: November 29, 2012
Where: Haven Social Club – 15120 Stony Plain Road
Cost: $10 + service charge (includes a free drink!)
Buy a ticket!


#1 – Exo-lent Planets!
Abigail Stevens

Travelling to another world has long been a dream of humankind, and recently astronomers have added hundreds of so-called ‘exoplanets’ to the list of possible destinations. We also see representations of these exoplanets in sci-fi and fantasy, but how realistic are they? There are a variety of types of exoplanets, and some of them are even Earth-like. Together we’ll dive into the scientific literature to explore how exoplanets are formed, how scientists discover them, and if we could ever move to one.

Bio: Abigail is an M.Sc. student in astrophysics at the University of Alberta. She studies dead compact star remnants that eat other stars and spin ridiculously fast and emit X-rays. When she’s not dodging interstellar X-rays you can find her TAing at the Campus Observatory. In her “free time”, Abigail enjoys geeking out about interior and graphic design, math, music, social activism, and cute animals. Check out her online nerdery too.

#2 – Political Bias: The Red Pill
Rodrigo de la Jara

If you disagree with a story, is it biased? If a story is balanced, is it unbiased? What if a story comes from a partisan–is it automatically biased? At this point you might (understandably) be confused about what bias really is. It’s time to take the Red Pill. We’ll explore, from a scientific perspective, what bias really is, and how to detect it. We’ll also identify how to determine what experts or sources of information are trustworthy and why. Finally, we’ll look at how your decisions as a consumer of information can have life-or-death consequences.

Bio: Rodrigo de la Jara is dedicated to enlightenment values and emphasizing empirical evidence over ideology or dogma. He belongs to the Greater Edmonton Skeptics Society and thinks you should too. Rodrigo has a wide educational background: molecular biology, psychology, microbiological sciences, education, and computer science. He works as a software engineer, likes to do high dynamic range photography, especially when travelling, and he loves having discussions with rational people.

#3 – Sexagogy
Lauren Albrecht

What is sexagogy? The perfect combination of education! and titillation! In this presentation I will reconceptualize sexuality education for adults (yes, adults!) outside of the ‘all too familiar’ risk prevention model. I will challenge old-school notions of ‘sex ed’ (think: segregated classes, anatomy charts, and secret question boxes) by sharing my journey and my research on one of the fun, sexy and pleasure-focused spaces of sexuality education – the home sex toy party. So bring your three-ring binder, your list of naughty words, and an open mind – who knows, you might learn a thing or two!

Bio: Lauren Albrecht is an educator and researcher. She recently completed her Master of Education with a thesis that examined sexuality education in the context of home sex toy parties. Currently, she works in research in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Aside from academia, Lauren loves a good glass of wine, documentary films and non-fiction books. If she was rich, she would spend her days travelling with her husband to exotic locations around the globe.


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Calling all Nerds

Thank you nerds for a making Edmonton’s first Nerd Nite a huge success. We packed the Gogo Lounge and drank and learned and chatted and had an all-round good time. Thanks again to our great speakers, Ross, John and Rachelle; you did it in style, thanks for setting the bar high on nite one. Check out photos from night one.

Now it’s time to start thinking about Nerd Nite Edmonton #2! We have secured a much larger location for our second iteration and will be releasing details soon. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we’re looking for presenters for both the November edition and subsequent nites. Each nite we’d like to showcase all types of nerdery typically including one art, one science and one out of left-field presentation. There is much diversity in the nerdiverse and we want to sample it all!

If you are someone or know someone that is an expert nerd, we want to hear from you/them. What makes a good Nerd Nite presentation? While most presentations tend to be family-friendly, sober, and very accessible to a general audience, we’re a little different. A good Nerd Nite presentation should violate at least one of those, preferably more. If you need some inspiration check out these videos from various Nerd Nites herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (quality varies).

If you have ideas, questions, suggestions, or media inquiries don’t be shy, connect with us at . We want to hear from you!

Adam & Wade

P.S. Rachelle Saunders has graciously put together a list of great science resources, many of which were highlighted in her presentation. Thanks Rachelle. Enjoy!