Three presenters share a topic they are NERDY about while the audience shares a drink.

Join us for another fabulous Nerd Nite show! Speakers Chris, Nic and Ash will open new doors of understanding in their own nerdy way. Our shows have been selling out quick, so get in before all the tickets disappear!! Be there. Be square.

Wednesday, 22nd May
Howler (7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick)
Doors: 7 pm
Show: 7:30 pm
Tickets: $15 + BF – Available now!!!

Picking up good vibrations: how propagating waves become squeals, squawks, and symphonies.

Chris Freelance

Description: The ominous rumble of an earthquake. The roar of jet engines. The lyrical chirps of the early bird. The timbre of a familiar voice. The tones of a catchy 60s tune whose title has been cannibalised for a Nerd Nite talk! All are the result of propagating waves caused by vibrations. So how are these sound waves detected by animals? How have animals evolved to produce and use sounds for communication? How does human-generated noise impact this and what can we do about it? Come along to hear Dr Chris’ vocal chords produce sound waves that answer these questions with a healthy serving of microscope images, bad jokes, and quirky facts about insect sensory systems and animal mating behaviour thrown in! 

Bio: Dr Chris Freelance wears many hats: evolutionary biologist; research platform manager at The University of Melbourne; science communicator; photographer; violinist; and Lego nut. It wasn’t until nearly a decade into a career as a scientist he realised he could combine his interest in sensory systems with a love of nature and photography by using microscope techniques to examine the sensory systems of insects to learn more about how animals see, hear, and smell in different environments. (Alas he’s yet to find a way to work Lego into his job!) These insights contribute to a clearer understanding of the relationship between animal communication strategies and the environments in which they evolve, how this might be impacted by environmental change, and what this means for the future of those animal populations and the ecosystems they’re part of.  

Socials: @biologychris (Twitter/X)

From Firewood to Fraud: A Victorian Tale of Taxa and Scandal in Brunswick

Nic Dolby

Description: In this talk, we will be taking a thrilling journey through the tangled vines of Victorian firewood history! We’ll dive deep into the fascinating world of taxa usage over time in Victoria, unearthing secrets about the neglected Casuarinaceae along the way. But hold onto your hats, because things are about to get scandalous! Picture this: a woodyard in Brunswick, devout Wesleyans, ethnic tensions, bigamies, fraud, and even a dash of intrigue ending in tragedy. It’s a rollercoaster ride through the social, geographic, and economic underbelly of Victorian firewood, where every twist and turn reveals a new layer of historical drama. Buckle up, because this talk is anything but ordinary!

Bio: Meet Nic Dolby, the globetrotting Aussie with a twist! From the swinging ’60s migration Down Under to traversing the landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand, Traralgon, and the vibrant streets of Brunswick, Nic’s life reads like a colorful world map. From delivering papers to exploring ancient artifacts as an archaeologist, and from pedaling through city streets as a bicycle courier to advocating for the homeless, Nic’s journey has been as diverse as the cities he’s called home. With a knack for geography, environmental science, and even a dash of culinary expertise thrown in, Nic’s bio is as eclectic as it gets. And did we mention he’s as friendly as they come? Get ready to be inspired and entertained by Nic’s incredible adventures!

How to live on air

Ashleigh Kropp

Description: Bacteria are simply amazing. These tiny pockets of life cover every surface across the globe and have evolved to survive in the most hostile of climates. Usually when we think of bacteria, skin infections and 6-days-past-used-by chicken comes to mind. However, bacteria actually are far better at surviving than multiple cellular organisms like us. My research focuses on one of the most mundane but incredibly biodiverse places on the planet: the soil. Soil is everywhere and it is full of bacteria – in 1 gram of soil there is something like 40 million bacterial cells. In the soil these bacteria are employing some quirks to flourish, but also to survive. Frequently bacteria find themselves starving, struggling to survive in the absence of necessary nutrients (sugars), however, instead of dying, they rearrange their whole metabolism to eat air. Specifically, they ‘eat’ hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases, and turn this into energy that allows them to survive. Join me to tell you all about how they do this and why! 

Bio: Ashleigh is a late-stage PhD student at Monash University studying weird and wonderful soil bacteria. She is trying to understand how bacteria can survive starvation by eating air and the enzymes at the heart of this process. She hasn’t always been fascinated by bacteria but after many years of pursuing human biology and getting confused by all the cellular metabolic pathways, she decided that soil bacteria are actually more fascinating. In her spare time, Ash is a keen reality TV aficionado and cat mum.

Socials: @Ashleigh_Kropp (Twitter/X)