#25 Nerd Nite – 6 June 2017

In June, Nerd Nite speakers will be discussing how scientists are growing mini-brains, tea culture and how the animal kingdom is adapting to the environmental change around us. Be there and be square!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017
at Mr Wow’s Emporium
97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Doors 7pm/$5

Back to the lectures at hand:
*Presentation 1
Making mini-brains in a dish
by Dr Damian Hernandez

Description:  Once upon a time we were all just one single cell, a single cell that was formed by one oocyte and one sperm from our parents. That single cell managed to survive, growth, multiply and organised into a more complex structure to become the person that we are now. Ten years ago, a group of scientists discovered a way to reset the software and modify an adult skin cells into that single cells that has the potential to become any cell of the body such as heart, brain or blood cells. More recently, we have figured it out how to not just transform those single cells into other cell types, but to generate a whole organoid-like structure with a more complex cell organisation. We can now generate mini-guts, mini-kidneys, etc. Here you will be hearing on how we are generating mini-brains from skin cells of people to study Alzheimer’s diseases.

Bio: Damian is a stem cells researcher from the Centre for Eye Research Australia and the University of Melbourne. He graduated from the University of Mexico, his home country, and moved to Melbourne where he studied his PhD degree at St Vincent’s Institute, University of Melbourne. His research focuses in the study of stem cells and their potential to become any type of cell in the human body to study relevant diseases. He is currently generating human “mini-brains” to study Alzheimer’s diseases in a dish.

*Presentation 2
Tea – ‘The Cup of Humanity’*
by Dorothy Chan

Description:  In a city dominated by incredible coffee culture, tea often takes a back seat when we think of an energising beverage in our busy day-to-day schedules. But with speciality tea slowly and steadily increasing in popularity within the western world, heightened interests about the health benefits, varying styles and types of tea are also raising interests within its culture and its complex and often brutal history. What is tea culture? What benefits does it bring to the individual? And why is it so strongly upheld within certain cultures worldwide? In this presentation, Dorothy will be touching on tea and its properties, and discussing how tea and its governing principles have personally affected her way of life and how they have solidified her reflections on identity.
*’The Cup of Humanity’ taken from the title chapter “The Book of Tea”(1906) by Kakuzo Okakura (b.1862-d.1913)

Bio: Dorothy is a certified tea master with the Australian Tea Masters Association, and winner of the Tea Paring category of the Australian & New Zealand Tea Masters Cup 2017. Currently working via correspondence with various independent tea companies researching integrated agriculture of tea fields throughout China, Japan and Cambodia, she hopes to also work alongside small communities, farming families and individuals globally, in their youth education and economic development. Having experienced some incredibly diverse countries, many communities and individuals have enriched her life and, thankfully, her palate. Her respect and devotion to understanding flavours across the globe, preservation of tea culture, environment, and understanding of heritage and community, grows more passionately and deeply everyday. She hopes to pass on good will and happiness through the way of tea to all individuals, regardless of race, colour, religion, social standing, and sexual orientation.

*Presentation 3
Species we love and hate
by Dr John Martin

Description: Has a seagull ever stolen a chip from your hand? Have you ever thrown bread to the ducks? We all have a wildlife story. Some are love stories, like giving a koala a drink on 40 degree day; others are hate stories, like being kicked by a horse. We humans have changed our surrounding environment (building cities, clearing land for farms, etc.) and some species have adapted to exploit these environments. We’ll discuss how ibis are becoming hipsters, how cockatoos are spying on you, why flying-foxes are making a ‘concrete change’ and moving from the bush to the city, and what it means for the future.

Bio: John is a wildlife ecologist. Ultimately he thinks nature is pretty cool and the opportunity to catch and observe animals is freaking awesome. Being able to assist the conservation of wildlife is also cool. John works at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

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