Nerd Nite #47 #47 Nerd Nite – 8 June

8th June 2022

@ Howler 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

Doors 7pm


In another fabulous Nerd Nite for 2022, we’re submerging ourselves into areas of
interest that we’re not able to categorise without channelling our teenage selves.

Phalluses, Feminism and Bacterium are our topics for our June event, where our
speakers Jarrod, Beck and Haylo will open new doors of understanding in their own
nerdly way. Join us!

#1 Fantastic Phalluses and Where to Find Them

with Dr Jarrod McKenna: Twitter, web

Sex, even at the best of times, is a challenging pursuit. Being too tired, not in the mood, or having the wrong shape or wrong kind of penis can all influence your sexual success. Despite the shared function of penises (phalluses, if we’re getting technical), they are fantastically diverse across the animal kingdom. Many of their species-specific differences are the result of sexual selection and divergent and convergent evolution – but what specifically are those driving forces? In this talk, i’ll be diving into the fantastic world of the male appendage: What they look like, why they look like that, where to find them, and why they are where they are. There will be puns, there will be photos, and, hopefully, a new found appreciation for the evolution of the male reproductive tract.

Dr Jarrod McKenna is a science communicator and, in a previous life, a reproductive biologist. Jarrod loves taking boring scientific ideas and concepts and making them fun and interesting – it just so happens penis diversity is quite a fun topic to begin with. Jarrod has presented on the radio, podcasts, conferences, and written several articles all about the wonderful natural world to hopefully inspire the next generation of nerds of how amazing science can be!

#2 Feminism and fairy tales

with Beck Tomkins

Not an oxymoron! When a best friend asked if she should be reading fairytales and watching traditional Disney movies with her 2 year old daughter, the answer was a bit longer than expected. 

Beck is an early 30 something who is totally unashamed of still watching Disney movies. She will read anything except horror (unless the story is particularly good) and thinks that everyone should embrace their inner child. 

#3 Wild and wacky Wolbachia: the strange bacterium found everywhere

with Haylo Roberts

Not all bacterial infections cause illness – some bacterial infections cause.…strangeness. Let me introduce you to Wolbachia – a bacterium that lives inside of other beings – namely insects and worms, and manipulates their development and behaviour. Wolbachia infections can lead their hosts into bizarre circadian rhythms, being more picky about who they reproduce with, and even what sex they develop into. How does it do this? Why does it do this? And more importantly, how can we harness this strangeness to our benefit?

Haylo Roberts is currently finishing his PhD at La Trobe University where he researched parasitic nematodes, and of course Wolbachia. Haylo currently works as a molecular biologist at EnviroDNA and Cesar Australia, companies that inform biodiversity, conversation, agriculture and biosecurity fields using molecular genetics. Haylo is also an active committee member of Queersinscience – a not-for-profit organisation working to empower LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEM.

#46 Nerd Nite – 13 April

April 13 2022

at Howler 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

Doors 7pm

Tickets $15- on sale here and now!

*Presentation 1

Don’t Trash Waste and Don’t Waste Trash!

by Dylan Nichols (@revdanichols)

Description: Australians landfill about 27 million tons of “waste” every year, a level that is actually rising despite increased recycling and recovery efforts.  This causes enormous environmental issues now, as well as in the future. While this is a new talk, it will include a lot of recycled content, though will try and avoid being a total dumpster fire.  It will also look at what is being done about this problem, and the incredible opportunities that are in no way garbage.

Bio: Dylan Nichols is a Sustainability Consultant who helps his clients minimise waste and maximise recycling, reuse and recovery.  His job takes him to such ritzy locales such as landfills, transfer stations and even prisons.  More of an Oscar the Grouch than Oscar Wilde, this talk will allow Dylan to share things he has bin doing to clean up the world a bit.

*Presentation 2

Metadata matters

by Lauren Dunstan (@rodgerdunstan)

Description: Metadata has been around since the Ancient Egyptians labelled some scrolls on a shelf in 280BC. Fast forward almost 2000 years, card catalogues and the Dewey Decimal System made it easier for people to find the information they needed in libraries. In our digital world, the purpose of metadata remains the same, it allows us to find and manage information. And be tracked…sometimes for the better. With so much information out there, metadata matters. So how do you find the right stuff, to make the right decisions? Of course you can Google it, but if you really absolutely have to know, ask a Librarian.

Bio: Lauren is a library and information management professional at RMIT University.  It’s not just books, there are electronic collections, databases, repositories, archives, art, discovery tools, search systems, learning objects and digital asset management systems. Have I lost you?  Sorry. It’s not all boring. As a frontline worker, some of Lauren’s experiences have become a sitcom on ABC TV.  From handling medieval manuscripts to what people put in the return chute on the way home from the pub, some of it is really dirty work. You need gloves. Despite the view that all Librarians are introverts hiding in the 994’s, she’s here tonight to share all on how librarians can save lives with their bookish approach to managing data.

*Presentation 3

An army of claw-some friends

by Elodie. Camprasse, Twitter (@ECamprasse) and Instagram (elodie.camprasse)

Description: Every winter, in the heart of Port Phillip Bay, a truly amazing natural phenomenon unravels: the gathering of thousands and thousands of great spider crabs. Those crabs, which come to the shallows together to seek safety in numbers are on a mission: in order to grow, they need to moult whilst dodging hungry rays and other predators. The spider crabs and their aggregations are world famous – Sir David Attenborough himself featured this extraordinary event in BBC Blue Planet II. But would you believe that despite all this attention, we know very little about spider crab biology and ecology? Elodie and her team at Deakin University are here to change that and they need your help! Elodie will tell you all about how you can take the plunge, and become the spider crabs’ friends by helping scientists gather information on their whereabouts to understand their aggregations better. 

Bio: Elodie came to Australia about 8 years ago to do her PhD at Deakin University. She fell in love with Australia’s biodiversity, particularly in urban areas, above and below the surface. She used tiny devices to sneak into the lives of penguins and shags and understand their hunting strategies. She really enjoyed being a penguinologist (anyone who thinks this isn’t a proper job title can argue with her over a drink at NerdNite!). But a few years after her PhD, she decided that helping solve the mysteries surrounding the great spider crab aggregations was going to be her next endeavour. Her passion lies in better understanding marine environments and increasing awareness for the biodiversity of the Great Southern Reef. When Elodie is not busy teaching people how to make vegan cheeses, helping people connect with nature and wildlife or communicating science, you can find her underwater, taking photos of the unique, weird and amazing creatures that call Port Phillip Bay and the Great Southern Reef home.