And Nerd Nite is back! We have a fantastic series of shows lined up for 2023. We kick off on March 8th with three brand spanking new talks including two from alumnerd presenters. Be there. Be square.   

Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Howler (7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick)
Doors: 7 pm
Show: 7:30 pm
Tickets: $15 – Available now!!!

I have a body, therefore I think, therefore I am

Sarah Polkinghorne @sarahpolk

Swapping bodies, uploading minds, trading identities … these sci-fi tropes show that we’re intrigued by the idea that your mind can be separated from your body. But (fortunately? unfortunately?) these tropes are probably destined to remain in the realm of fiction. It turns out that our bodies are pretty fundamental to the workings of our minds (ie. how we think, feel, learn, remember). Sarah will speak to how researchers are figuring all this out, and why it matters.

BIO: Dr. Sarah Polkinghorne has always been intrigued by how people build connections and become informed. She’s travelled a unique path from theatre to librarianship to research, most recently studying how people from different walks of life come to feel informed about food. She works as a Research Fellow in Social Change, at RMIT University. She has given talks around the world.

Sleep in Worms, and Why we Should Care

Shauni Omond — @ShauniOmond

Regardless of how much or how little we get, sleep is something that we all do. But why we sleep, and how sleep evolved is still something of a mystery. Four F’s of life have persisted throughout evolution – fighting, foraging, fleeing and mating. I look at a small aquatic worm as a new model for sleep research. Through characterising sleep, modulating sleep and manipulating sleep in these animals, I have discovered what might be the simplest form of sleep that we can still study to date. As the Brain evolved to become more complex, new mechanisms arose to aid in the onset, maintenance and cessation of sleep. If we can understand the basics and simplest mechanism underlying sleep, we can better understand potential fixes to sleep problems. 

BIO: Shauni Omond is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University. Shauni investigates the evolutionary mechanisms in sleep. She became involved in this research during my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation and has quickly fallen in love with the field of sleep. Post-PhD she’s planning to pivot into human sleep research, tying in impacts of sleep manipulation on physical and cognitive performance. Outside of her research, she loves to knit, hike, fish and visit as many breweries and distilleries as she can, all around the world. 

Heart of Darkness

Michelle Rank

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do” — Potter Stewart (1915-1985). Most of us have a passing familiarity of the Hippocratic oath – a Greek medical text that outlines professional ethical standards for new physicians. It still informs training in medical ethics for young doctors today. But what happens when an important historical piece of scientific work was conceived in evil and born of malevolence? What if this piece of work was still used prominently in the training of modern doctors, surgeons, and other health professionals? We’re going to have a difficult conversation about some of the darker legacies at the heart of medical training. But, don’t despair, I’m also going to give you a window into the bright and hopeful future of optimistic young doctors today.

BIO: Michelle Rank has a PhD in Neuroscience and is an Associate Professor of Anatomy. She is a passionate educator who focuses on the training of first year medical students in human anatomy and is a relentless advocate for equity and inclusion across everything she does. This is her second time speaking at Nerd Nite, and she’s had a career change and a promotion in the meantime, so expect some truly boundary pushing stuff here. She also plays roller derby and takes classes at circus school – which perfectly exemplifies her unique combo of grit and optimism that she’ll bring to the stage. And no, there will be no circus tricks on roller skates.