Wednesday 14 July 2021

at Howler 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

NerdNite Melbourne continues to demonstrate its superb grasp of both event planning and forecasting epidemiological trends by flanking yet another lockdown period with its third show of 2021. Our three speakers are representing the top minds in all of Melbourne, maybe the whole world, and promise to deliver the ultimate midweek wisdom bites. Jessica van Zuylekom will recount her superhero origin story, wherein the bite of a radioactive mouse imparts her with superhuman abilities, probably. David Mesa Saldarriaga will elaborate on good product design principles in familiar situations, such as bulletproofing floating dredges for the benefit of Columbian gold miners. Then, Georgia Atkin-Smith dispels the commonly held belief that curing cancer is as easy as rubbing amethyst crystals on your skin and adhering to a gluten-free paleo diet.      

#1 Why haven’t we cured cancer yet? 

by Georgia Atkin-Smith (@SomeBlondeSci)

What do onions and cancer have in common?.. Layers upon layers of tear-jerking complexity. With my background in cell biology and genetics, I am going to peel back the layers one by one, providing an insight into the complex task of developing ‘the cure for cancer’. I’ll share some of the history of genetics which has changed modern medicine, ambitious goals for the future, and introduce you to the amazing world of cell death research. The ultimate goal of anti-cancer drugs is to kill the cancer so, get ready to hear about the wacky and wonderful ways that we can kill these bastard cells.

Georgia Atkin-Smith, also known as Some Blonde Scientist, is a Cell Biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and La Trobe University. She has a PhD in Biochemistry, lectured undergrad and postgrad Genetics, and is continuing a post-doctorate understanding how cells die in models of disease. Her research uses a variety of high-resolution imaging approaches to monitor the impact that diseases such as viral infections and cancer have on the health of our cells. Nerd Nite contains both of Georgia’s favourite hobbies, public speaking and (responsible) drinking.

Georgia’s presentation is below

#2 The Bumpy Road to Innovation

by David Mesa Saldarriaga

We all want products that not only look great but work flawlessly. So, when something is not easy to use or breaks without any apparent reason, it drives us to drink. Why do some brands make better, more innovative products? In this talk, I will show you what it takes to create new, innovative products. To demonstrate, I’ll take you on a journey to the mountains and jungles of Colombia to show you two projects. The first, a product that helped improve the working conditions of gold miners inside bulletproof rooms on floating dredges. The second, an enormous flexible container to deliver cement in mountainous regions. While it may be half a world away, the lessons learned from these projects are just as applicable here as there are anywhere — the basis for good, innovative products is empathy.

David Mesa is a product design engineer who has worked on many innovative product design projects. As a designer, he has helped many companies solve problems through design. David currently teaches innovation and prototyping at Swinburne University of Technology. His research explores the process of identifying applications for new scientific discoveries and transforming those ideas into products that can reach the market. He loves soccer (as most Latinos do), building stuff and a good conversation with friends over a drink or two.

David’s presentation is below:

#3 Nuclear Medicine: Will I glow in the dark? 

by Jessica van Zuylekom

From the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the nuclear power plant disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear radiation has been the Big Bad for the last century. An invisible danger that can invoke the dreaded C word: Cancer. But what if radiation isn’t quite as bad as it seems… what if radiation can be used to cure cancer? What if I told you we could inject, ingest and breathe in radiation safely? Let me show you the world of nuclear medicine where we use radiation to find, treat and cure disease. You’ll hear about my research in the pre-clinical space where we trial new radioactive tracers to find rare cancers and test radionuclide therapies to help patients resistant to other treatments. I might even be able to tell you just exactly what happens to a person who’s been bitten by a radioactive mouse… 

Jessica Van Zuylekom is a Nuclear Medicine Technologist (don’t worry, she’ll explain on the night) and Research Assistant at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. This means she works both clinically with radioactive human patients, and undertakes research with much smaller radioactive non-human patients (who perhaps might get a little nippy at times). Her research revolves around cancer imaging and using radioactive tracers to find and treat cancer and, hopefully, help the world move towards personalised medicine. She loves anything radiation (yes, she watched Chernobyl, and yes, she loved it) but also has other nerdy hobbies like board games, reading sci-fi/fantasy and ballet. She hopes Nerd Nite will help her show some people that radiation isn’t always the villain. 

Jessica’s presentation is below