#26 Nerd Nite – 1 August 2017

In August, Nerd Nite speakers will be discussing how food intake impact our bodies , can our food choices impact the climate, and bans on blood donation from gay/bisexual men.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017
at Mr Wow’s Emporium
97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Doors 7pm/$5

*Presentation 1
Putting the money where the mouth is: How to tackle climate crisis through the food we eat
by Prof Trichur Vidyasagar
Description:  Faced with an existential crisis from global warming, the world seems largely blind to the single most effective solution to avert the catastrophe.  While fossil fuel use has quite rightly been a burning issue and we are making belated and largely inadequate attempts to reduce its use, most people have been blissfully unaware of or delusorily deny the massive impact that their daily food habits have on the environment – on greenhouse gas emissions, large-scale loss of habitat with consequent loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, water shortage, etc. Specifically, the huge increase in our consumption of meat and dairy in the last 70 years is contributing more greenhouse gases than transport, heating and other non-agricultural uses of fossil fuels together.  Even moderate reduction in our consumption of meat and dairy has the potential to take us far beyond the targets set in Paris. It will be helped also by carbon sequestration from reforestation of large areas of land presently devoted to livestock.
Bio: Prof Trichur Vidyasagar (called Sagar) qualified as a medical doctor from the University of Madras and then did a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Manchester.  He then worked at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen (Germany) and the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra before moving to the University of Melbourne in 2002. His main research has been on the neural mechanisms underpinning perception and attention, mostly undertaken by recording the activity of single neurones in many mammalian species. He has a further interest in applying these to understanding how we normally read and what is neurally different in dyslexics. Unafraid of heterodoxy, he is writing a book called “Why I am a vegetarian and do animal experiments”, to explain how both positions are imperative and also ethically consistent with each other.  Almost everyone has polarised opinions on these two issues, leaving Sagar with very few like-minded friends.

*Presentation 2
(Functional) food for thought: nutrition and nutraceuticals for mood and cognition
by Prof Andrew Scholey
Description: “You are what you eat” as the saying goes. Over the past two decades there has been increasing interest into the influence of diet and nutrition on mental functions in both clinical and healthy populations. This has led to studies revealing that certain components of diet are associated with better mood and cognitive functions. These include certain vitamins and other specific nutrients found in fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, wine, tea and certain herbs and spices. These components can be enriched in the form of functional foods or made into “nutraceuticals” for improving mood and brain function. This talk will illustrate how changes in cognitive performance are measured. It will present evidence, including from brain imaging studies, demonstrating that certain nutritional interventions can improve mood and mental function.
BioProfessor Andrew Scholey is director of the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University, Melbourne Australia. He has led research into the neurocognitive effects of metabolic substrates, recreational drugs, natural products, supplements and food components. His current research focuses on neuroimaging and biomarker techniques to better understand the mechanisms of cognitive enhancement. Andrew works closely with industry which allows rapid translation of research into evidence-based end-user health benefits.

*Presentation 3
Gay blood is good blood? How respectability politics, privilege and HIV stigma rekindled the gay blood ban as an object of gay activism
by Tyler Gleason
Description: The ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood in Australia has long been a contested area of health policy. Initially seen as an unjustified attack on the gay community at a time of great uncertainty about the origins of AIDS and the public scandal of the ‘Queensland babies’ case, the ban eventually became broadly accepted as a necessary part of the national response to HIV/AIDS. In recent years, there have been increasing calls for the ban to be lifted, supported by arguments that it constitutes an unjustified form of discrimination against gay men. This talk, co-written with Paul Kidd, will examine the history of the Australian ban on blood donations from the 1980s to the present, and the ways in which the gay community has responded as the experience and understanding of HIV has evolved.
Bio: Tyler is a Research Assistant at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, where he also taught a course on China’s ongoing social, economic and political transformations. He’s a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) graduate from the University of Melbourne, where his thesis examined the use of language and online spaces by gay men in mainland China. His research interests largely focus on the greater China region and span across histories of sexuality, gender, disease and epidemics. If you want to know more, you can tweet with him at @tylergleason.

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