#20 Nerd Nite – 2 August 2016

Three awesome speakers who will discuss visualisation neuroscience, the web and its support of scientific research, as well as how stress impacts sperm.

Our friends at Mr Wow’s Emporium will be hosting us again with cold beers and delicious food from the Burger Boys.  Be there and be square!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016
at Mr Wow’s Emporium
97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Doors 7pm/$5

*Presentation 1
Performing science from a web browser
by Dr Robert Kerr
Description: Open-science is about making scientific research accessible to everyone, from other scientists to the general public, but too often that means just dumping data sets and publishing the researchers’ interpretations. To truly communicate findings and ignite collaboration, we need to expose the tools that the scientists used to analyse the data, simulate the mathematical models, and visualise the results. As a neuroscientist and a web developer, this is something Robert has been working towards. In his talk, he will show how the old-school, computationally-heavy software used in science can be set free using the centralised power of cloud resources and the ubiquity of the browser. He will present real-time, publicly-broadcast simulations of the electrical activity in brain cells, which will be visualised in 3D using JavaScript.

Bio: Dr Robert Kerr is a Research Staff Member at IBM Research Australia where he works on a variety of neuroscience projects, many with research collaborators at the University of Melbourne, and on developing web and cloud based tools for doing scientific research. He has been at IBM since February 2014 when he completed a PhD in computational neuroscience in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

*Presentation 2
Visual Neuroscience — ‘seeing’ what the brain is up to
by Errol Lloyd
Description:  Vision is our greatest skill.  Whilst the eye is a biological marvel, the brain’s task of using the rich information in the light of the world is daunting.  In unravelling what it is to look and see, and how the brain makes sense of the flux of light, we start to discover the tricks that our unconscious mind uses to give us an image of reality, and just how little we know about what is to perceive, let alone to think.

Bio: Errol Lloyd is an over educated professional student.  Born in Frankston, and finally arriving in Melbourne, he honestly sometimes loses count of the amount of degrees that he has started.  This saddens him.  A few years ago, though, a simple logical point was made by a lecturer about what a few neurones hanging out and chatting could get up to.  He thought that there was something simultaneously beautiful and profound in this, even though technically, the lecturer was talking about the colon … and cholera . A linking of mechanism and humanity?  After a masters in visual neuroscience, he now pursues a PhD on the same topic hoping to see detail in the big picture … or something.

*Presentation 3
Epigenetics: Can we inherit our parents stress?
by Dr Annabel Short
Description:  Have you ever wondered whether your personality is due to your DNA, or due to the sum of your life experiences? Our DNA has the ability to carry messages from our environment and can shape our lives in surprising ways. It is possible that these environmental messages may also be passed on to our children. Could our personality be a combination of not only our parents DNA, but also their life experiences?

Bio: Dr. Annabel Short is a postdoctoral researcher at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. She is investigating the effects of lifestyle on DNA and how this affects our behaviour and the behaviour of our children. She has a particular focus on anxiety and depression disorders and hopes that her research may lead to a better understanding of what causes mental health issues, with an aim to improve treatment outcomes.

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