We are back in 2019 with an awesome 3-speaker line up who will be discussing the modern era of genetic engineering, diving in Antarctica and the neurology of pain. Come join us at Howler in Brunswick, for $15 burger and pot deals whilst you are learning.
Genetic Engineering: What Pop Culture Gets Wrong
by Ben Novak
Description: Recent innovations in genetic engineering are revolutionizing the future of medicine, agriculture, and wildlife conservation. Things once only imagined in science fiction novels, tv series, and films are now materializing as real applications, but the impacts and concerns of real life genetic engineering are nothing like the dystopian tropes of popular culture – knee jerk fears are unwarranted. Amazing achievements in genetic engineering may seem underwhelming compared to the action packed plots of movies like Jurassic World and Rampage, but small accomplishments in petri dishes are poised to radically transform the the world for the better. A real look at the prospects on the horizon open up a future of wonder, rather than alarm.
Bio: Ben Novak is the lead scientist for Revive & Restore, a U.S. based non-profit organization with a mission to innovate and advance the use of biotechnologies in wildlife conservation – a field collectively called ‘genetic rescue’. Ben works on a variety of projects, but is mostly known as the lead of “the Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback”, a de-extinction project which aims to restore the vital ecological role of the extinct passenger pigeon to the forests of eastern North America. Novak’s education is in ecology and evolution, with training in ancient DNA lab techniques. His current work in Australia involves innovating animal husbandry and egg handling techniques to enable genetic engineering in domestic pigeons as a model species not only for passenger pigeon de-extinction, but for the genetic rescue of wild birds with similar reproductive biology to pigeons. Novak’s de-extinction and genetic rescue work have attracted a large amount of media attention, including print/online articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Red Bullas well as numerous tv/online video and radio documentaries and live interviews. Through his media work and consultation at international meetings on behalf of Revive & Restore, Novak has emerged as a public voice for both the technical and sociopolitical development, adoption, and use of biotechnologies for wildlife conservation.
Diving with the Kiwis among the penguins
by Matthew McArthur
Description: When Matt got the call that he was needed for a research project involving diving at the world’s southernmost dive site, he said “maybe,” and hung up to call his bride of four weeks to check that such high latitudes gallivanting wasn’t a marriage denting proposition. Fortunately his wife, also being a marine scientist, realised what this realisation of a life long ambition meant to Matt and told him to get it out of his system, little realising how readily Antarctica gets under a person’s skin. He serviced his regulators, repaired his dry suit and set south to see what he would see in the sea beneath the sea-ice.
Bio: Twenty years in marine ecology saw Matt live and work all around Australia and New Zealand, traveling where the work led him, microscope in one hand and a large bag of dive gear in the other. A super heroine disguised as a biologist from Detroit asked him out, asked him to marry her and asked him to father her children and Matt, gentleman that he is, obliged on all fronts. They returned to his homeland so the kiddos would get to know their grandparents. While tethered to Melbourne the microscope work dried up so Matt turned his hand to science communication. He spends his days sharing the idea that everyone can science and that observation, hypothesis, data, and analysis can apply to everyday situations, offering answers that go beyond guesses and estimates with audiences ranging from kindegarteners to senior citizens. His podcast, “Ice Coffee: the history of human activity in Antarctica,” led to work in Antarctic tourism and each austral summer Matt spends a month or two sharing his passion for the white continent with people making a pilgrimage to its icy shores.
The neuroscience of kink
by Aerie Shore
Description: BDSM and kink have garnered tremendous media attention and cultural traction in recent years. Unbeknownst to most people, humans have been exploring kink and alternative sexual practices for millennia. Modern scientific research provides clues as to why activities that may seem so bizarre and intimidating hold such a strong allure, seated in the very neurological chemistry and wiring of our brains. Join Aerie on a journey into the human brain, as she unravels a complex tapestry of neurochemistry, psychobiology and behavioural conditioning to explore what makes humans kinky. What allows people to override survival instincts and cultural mores to seek out, possibly even sexualise, pain and humiliation? How are fetishes formed? Are there benefits to engaging in kinky activities? (Spoiler: Yes!) Aerie draws upon a background in animal biology as well as an 18-year career in BDSM arts and kink education to illuminate this deeply enthralling topic.
Bio: Aerie Shore is an independent science communicator based in Melbourne, Australia. Her vigorous obsession with science germinated in California, where she studied marine and animal biology in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Participation in the 2013 Faculty of Science International Scholarship at the University of Auckland spawned her immigration to Australia in the name of scientific inquest. Aerie draws upon a diverse array of careers to enrich the colourful tapestry of her scientific exploits. Past and present occupations including biology tutor, aquarium exhibit interpreter, film director, cabaret dancer, dominatrix, accordionist, and kink educator inform the engaging and interactive nature of her science communication. She employs this diversity to cultivate a public interface in which her contagious passion for science is dynamically transmitted.