8th June 2022

@ Howler 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

Doors 7pm


In another fabulous Nerd Nite for 2022, we’re submerging ourselves into areas of
interest that we’re not able to categorise without channelling our teenage selves.

Phalluses, Feminism and Bacterium are our topics for our June event, where our
speakers Jarrod, Beck and Haylo will open new doors of understanding in their own
nerdly way. Join us!

#1 Fantastic Phalluses and Where to Find Them

with Dr Jarrod McKenna: Twitter, web

Sex, even at the best of times, is a challenging pursuit. Being too tired, not in the mood, or having the wrong shape or wrong kind of penis can all influence your sexual success. Despite the shared function of penises (phalluses, if we’re getting technical), they are fantastically diverse across the animal kingdom. Many of their species-specific differences are the result of sexual selection and divergent and convergent evolution – but what specifically are those driving forces? In this talk, i’ll be diving into the fantastic world of the male appendage: What they look like, why they look like that, where to find them, and why they are where they are. There will be puns, there will be photos, and, hopefully, a new found appreciation for the evolution of the male reproductive tract.

Dr Jarrod McKenna is a science communicator and, in a previous life, a reproductive biologist. Jarrod loves taking boring scientific ideas and concepts and making them fun and interesting – it just so happens penis diversity is quite a fun topic to begin with. Jarrod has presented on the radio, podcasts, conferences, and written several articles all about the wonderful natural world to hopefully inspire the next generation of nerds of how amazing science can be!

#2 Feminism and fairy tales

with Beck Tomkins

Not an oxymoron! When a best friend asked if she should be reading fairytales and watching traditional Disney movies with her 2 year old daughter, the answer was a bit longer than expected. 

Beck is an early 30 something who is totally unashamed of still watching Disney movies. She will read anything except horror (unless the story is particularly good) and thinks that everyone should embrace their inner child. 

#3 Wild and wacky Wolbachia: the strange bacterium found everywhere

with Haylo Roberts

Not all bacterial infections cause illness – some bacterial infections cause.…strangeness. Let me introduce you to Wolbachia – a bacterium that lives inside of other beings – namely insects and worms, and manipulates their development and behaviour. Wolbachia infections can lead their hosts into bizarre circadian rhythms, being more picky about who they reproduce with, and even what sex they develop into. How does it do this? Why does it do this? And more importantly, how can we harness this strangeness to our benefit?

Haylo Roberts is currently finishing his PhD at La Trobe University where he researched parasitic nematodes, and of course Wolbachia. Haylo currently works as a molecular biologist at EnviroDNA and Cesar Australia, companies that inform biodiversity, conversation, agriculture and biosecurity fields using molecular genetics. Haylo is also an active committee member of Queersinscience – a not-for-profit organisation working to empower LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEM.