Nerd Nite No. 64: Mapping the Arctic, Smoking Grass, and Beanie Babies!

Here’s the lineup for this first August Nerd Nite:

Kelly McCarthy with “Mapping the Arctic from 1500 Feet: A Glimpse into our Changing Earth”

The Arctic, known for its pristine beauty and terrifying isolation, largely unoccupied by humankind, is one of the most sensitive and telling regions of our dynamic Earth. But without setting foot in most of its great expanse how can we understand exactly how it is changing? NASA’s Operation IceBridge uses remote sensing methods from aboard an airborne laboratory to collect data on the thickness, depth, and movement of ice features in the Arctic and Antarctica. Fly along with PolarTREC teacher Kelly McCarthy on the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever conducted to learn about how this critical data is collected, life in the field during an airborne Arctic campaign, and the implications of the data acquired from this extensive operation.

About Kelly: Kelly McCarthy has been a science educator in Pennsylvania for the past eight years. With a background in physics and enthusiasm for NASA’s airborne and space science programs, she is passionate about making STEM accessible and exciting for all students. As a 2016 PolarTREC teacher, Kelly worked in the field with NASA’s Operation IceBridge during their 2016 Arctic Campaign in Greenland and recognizes the importance of sharing the processes, science, and implications behind the work this team does year after year.

Katie Bohri with “Smoking Grass for the Environment – Managing native grasslands with fire”

How to maintain a grassland environment: Add fire to it! Each spring land managers across the country set prescribed burns to grassland environments. These fires maintain the health of habitats. Katie Bohri talks about the how and whys of prescribed burns.

About Katie: Katie Bohri works for Mt. Cuba Center, a botanical garden that focuses on native plants and the habitats that sustain them, where she is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator.

Kae Lani Kennedy with “The Secret Life of Beanie Babies

The Beanie Baby craze is one of the most talked about trends of the 1990’s, with Ty Warner being hailed as one of the decade’s most brilliant businessmen. But was Ty Inc.’s success really the result of a well-run company with a genius marketing strategy? Explore how Chicago soccer moms, the rise of a secondary investment market, and the dawn of the Dot Com, all puppeteered by a mad man, turned $5 under-stuffed plush dolls into one of the strangest market bubbles of the 20th century.

About Kae Lani: Kae Lani is a travel writer and photographer whose global exploits are guided primarily by food. She and her partner, Jon, run Foodful Thinking — a site where thousands tune into to watch broadcasts about nostalgic food brands, weird dishes, and anything foodie culture. Kae Lani is also a media historian, an economics nerd, and a trends enthusiast. Recently, she’s been putting her Business degree to work, analyzing and profiling one of the most perplexing multi-billion dollar companies to grace the 90’s: Ty Inc.

PLUS! Music by Pixel8ter!

The details:
Doors open at 4pm. Show at 7:30pm. We recommend you get there early to ensure getting a good seat!
Wednesday, August 3rd
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue

Nerd Nite No. 63: Nerd Nite At The Rail Park!

We are having a bonus Nerd Nite at The Rail Park! Joining us for this evening of outdoor nerdery will be:

Michael Garden from Friends of the Rail Park will present “The Rail Park: Beyond the Viaduct”

Rhyan Grech from Audubon Pennsylvania giving a talk entitled “Saving Birds Through Healthy Watersheds”

Ariell Johnson from Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse will spotlight 10 geeky suggestions for things you should be into.

PLUS! Be sure to wear your nerdiest T-shirt so that you can participate in the first-ever Nerd Nite Philadelphia Dry T-Shirt Contest.

The details:
Wednesday, July 20th

PHS Pop Up Garden at the Viaduct Rail Park

10th and Hamilton, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123

7:30 pm. $5

See you there!

Nerd Nite No. 62: SEPTA! Comics! Max Headroom!

Here’s the lineup for this first July Nerd Nite:

Anita Davidson, “Proposed SEPTA North-South Route 49”

Proposed Route 49 is a new SEPTA bus route that aims to provide improved transit connections for the communities of Brewerytown, Fairmount, and Grays Ferry to the growing jobs and health resources in University City.  In this talk, Anita Davidson will go through some of the analyses SEPTA has done to come up with the current proposal. This will hopefully also help to demystify some of their planning process.
Bio: Anita Davidson is currently an operations planner for the City Service Planning department at SEPTA. She left Philadelphia briefly to study maps in DC, but quickly came running home to my gritty city of diverse neighborhoods and functioning public transportation (well, outside of this week at least). While not riding on buses and being a SEPTA Am-badass-ador, she hangs out at woodshops, and all of the restaurants in South Philly.
Kelly Phillips & Claire Folkman, “Drawing on Imagination with Dirty Diamonds”
From our weirdest fantasies, our darkest dreams, our brightest creations, and all the figments of our imagination, we challenged female comic creators from around the world to reveal what goes on in their brains, and we’ve assembled them into a new comic anthology! Join us as we read from the book and talk about imaginary friends, collaborating on fan fiction, the mystique of pro wrestling, becoming a ghost story, and much, much more!
Bio:  Dirty Diamonds is an award-winning all-girl comic anthology based out of Philadelphia, edited and published by Kelly Phillips (creator of “Weird Me”) and Claire Folkman. The goal of Dirty Diamonds has been to give the women of comics a dedicated outlet for telling their stories, and artists from around the world have contributed their semi-autobiographical comics over the years. Celebrating their fifth anniversary, they were recently the recipients of the Philly Geek Award for Comic Creators of the Year, and they are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of Dirty Diamonds #7: Imagination and to pay all of the artists that contributed their work to the book.
Chris Cummins, “20 Minutes Into the Future: The Curious Case of the Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion”
On November 22, 1987, Chicago television viewers were confounded when a broadcast of Doctor Who was interrupted by a strange pirate TV signal in which a man dressed as Max Headroom began ranting for 90 seconds about everything from local media to soft drinks. It was creepy. It was odd. It was amazing. Not to mention, highly illegal. This hijacking of the airwaves was a federal crime, but to this day the person or persons responsible have never been caught. Having long been obsessed with the case, Nerd Nite Philadelphia co-boss will delve deep into this incident, examining what it might have all meant, its possible relationship with the phreaking/hacking subcultures of the 1980s, and look at the possible culprits.
Bio: Chris Cummins is a Philadelphia-based writer and comics historian who regularly contributes to Den of Geek and Uproxx. He is also the producer/host of Sci-Fi Explosion, a cosmic cabaret of craziness that explores the wacky world of science fiction. You can follow him on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.
PLUS! Music by Emily Mineo!
The details:
Doors open at 4pm. Show at 7:30pm. We recommend you get there early to ensure getting a good seat!

Wednesday, July 6th
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue

Nerd Nite No. 61: Plant Intelligence, Macrophages, and Park Ranger Life. Plus SKELETOR!

It’s time for another Nerd Nite! Here’s what we have planned for you:

Sophia Seifert, “Plant Intelligence”

Plants are the oldest and most massive organisms on earth. However, our chlorophyll-filled friends are able to do much more than just grow big and old: they can communicate, share, and even remember. We will explore some of the amazing things that the earliest land-dwellers can do and, in the process, challenge what it means to be intelligent.

BIO: Sophia has spent the better part of the last decade as a science teacher in Philadelphia’s public and charter schools. While in the classroom, she wrote and delivered an interdisciplinary middle school curriculum called Science and Society that explored everything from the neuroscience of mindfulness to (you guessed it) organic gardening and food security. These days, Sophia works at the Philadelphia School Partnership supporting collaboration between schools and at Penn Graduate School of Education training new science teachers.

Ritama Gupta, “White Blood Cells and Red Blood Cells : A Love Story”

A type of white blood cell called Macrophages have long been revered in the scientific world as superhuman defenders of the body. They eat up germs that invade us and keep us healthy. But recent research reveals a new identity for these cells. Macrophages are also essential for red blood cells, the cells that carry oxygen in your body. We dug deeper and looked into the genome of these cells. Turns out the genes are telling an interesting story, and we’re listening.

BIO: Ritama is currently pursuing her PhD in Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. She recently moved with her lab to the department of Hematology of the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia at University of Pennsylvania. A lot of her research is primarily on mice, investigating hematological disorders and sequencing the RNA of macrophages in these disorders. She always has her ear out for interesting hematological findings, and she will most definitely swap fun science stories for beer and some good old cider.

Tom Bryan, “Hey Mr. Ranger!”

Pennsylvania Park Ranger Tom Bryan will discuss how to become a ranger, various aspects of the job, and provide lots of anecdotes of daily life on duty.

BIO: Tom Bryan has worked as a ranger for 10 years at the federal and county levels.  He began his career as a visitor use assistant at Hopewell Furnace and Valley Forge national historic sites.  He is currently working for Montgomery County Parks, Trails and Historic sites as a Ranger. He holds current lethal weapons, boating, outdoor education, FEMA and wildland firefighting certifications.

Plus: Entertainment (and evil!) from returning Nerd Nite favorite SKELETOR!

Doors open at 4pm. Show at 7:30pm. We recommend you get there early to ensure getting a good seat!

Wednesday, June 1st
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue


Nerd Nite No. 60: Microbes, Political Campaign Memorabilia, Star Wars Collecting

It’s time for another Nerd Nite! Here’s what we have lined up for May:

“Governing Our Guts: On Food And Policing Microbes” by Nicole Welk-Joerger

Current research has suggested we need to think more about the microscopic creatures living inside of us, since they are the ones ultimately determining our weight, and health.  We’ll touch a bit upon this and take one step further – looking at how farmers are worried about the food of our food to better feed *their* microbes.  Get ready for some new meta-relations and meta-language to talk about our food system, and may the fork be with you.
Bio: Nicole Welk-Joerger is currently pursuing her PhD degree in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  She looks historically and ethnographically at developments in animal nutrition science, spending a lot of time with veterinarians, farmers, and cows.

“A Chicken in Every Pot, and Campaign Memorabilia in Every Garage: The Eerily Relevant History of Presidential Campaigns” by Ben Leach

Presidential campaigns are known for a trail of broken promises and nasty mudslinging, but in the aftermath of our electoral process, centuries worth of souvenirs commemorating the eventual winners and losers of the country’s most important popularity contest have accumulated in the homes of our ancestors. It may not be fun to watch endless coverage of an election today, but for many collectors, these pinback buttons, ribbons, posters, and other artifacts tell a colorful tale about the kind of marketing required to get someone elected to the highest office in the country. Ben Leach, the Ralph Nader of Nerd Nite Philly, takes you through the truly outrageous presidential campaigns of yore and tells their story through images of 100 percent authentic artifacts that may help put the insanity that is the 2016 presidential race into proper historical context.

Bio: Ben Leach is a New Jersey-based science and medical writer. However, he is also a collector of the eclectic and unusual, especially if it’s something that relates to his childhood from the 1980s and 1990s. He has been a published author on collectibles since he was 19, with work appearing in Lee’s Toy Review, Toyfare, and Currently, he operates a website dedicated to antiques and collectibles with his family called The Collector Gene (


“A Star Wars Collecting Overview At Lightspeed” by Paul Harrison

May the Fourth Be With You today with this special presentation in which Star Wars expert Paul Harrison discusses collecting all things related to a galaxy far, far away.

Bio: Paul Harrison is the co-owner of and the co-author of Steven Sansweet’s The Ultimate Action Figure Collection.

Plus! Music by They Might Be Giants cover act James K. Folk.

The details:

Wednesday, April 4th.

Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Avenue in the heart of Fishtown.


7:30pm/doors open at 4pm. We recommend you get there early to ensure that you snag a seat.