Nerd Nite No. 77: Diatoms, Victorian Era Flirting, Movie Product Placement

Look, it’s the dog days of summer and we know how ruff (sorry) that can be, but there’s no reason to stay home and mope. Not when we have another incredibly strong Nerd Nite planned. Here’s what’s happening at our August Nerd Nite event:

Alison Minerovic will discuss Diatoms

This talk will examine the role of diatoms in our daily life, including how they produce the oxygen we breathe, some engineering and medical applications of their amazing siliceous skeletons, and even their use in beer filtration and gardening.

BIO: Alison Minerovic is the collection manager of the world’s second largest Diatom Herbarium, housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Alexis Pedrick, “Flirt Like a Victorian”

Get your history with a side of love, lust, and witty calling cards. As it turns out, navigating romance in the 19th century was just as weird, challenging, and full of unsolicited “sexts” as it is today. Dive into the fascinating social history of the Victorian era with tales that will make you appreciate Tinder and your ability to swipe left.

BIO: Alexis Pedrick is a huge history nerd who loves playing Dungeon and Dragons and enjoys being blinded by science in her position managing public programming for the Chemical Heritage Foundation. You can find her collaborating on projects like Science on Tap, Philadelphia Science Festival and leading tours as a volunteer guide at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Ben Leach, “It Must Be What He Drinks on His Home Planet!: The Wacky World of Product Placement in Film”

Whether E.T. is lured by the delicious peanut butter and chocolate taste of Reese’s Pieces or Tom Hanks turns an official Wilson volleyball into his best friend, you know that it’s next to impossible not to be subjected to product placement in the movies after plunking down money for your ticket. Ben Leach enters Nerd Nite Philly’s hallowed 10-timers club by discussing the different ways in which movies attempt to seamlessly blend commercials into product placement. Really, though, this talk will serve as his excuse highlight some of the obscure films from the last couple of decades where the films were actually built around product placement to terrifying and mind-boggling results.

BIO: Ben Leach is a South Jersey-based science writer and web specialist who has managed not to integrate either of those careers into any of his 10 and counting Nerd Nite Philly talks. His parents took him to his first flea market when he was a month old, thereby conditioning him into an existence built around bargain hunting and amassing thousands of collectibles. He currently owns what he believes is the second or third largest private Mr. T collection in the world, unless there’s some bozo out there who’s holding out on him. He appeared on the Antiques Roadshow back in May, which really impresses people over the age of 60. He is planning to launch a new website around these varied interests and maybe he’ll have it done in time for the December Nerd Nite when he returns for The Cost is Correct: 1987 Edition.

Plus, music by local singer/songwriter Ryan Williams!

The details:

Wednesday, August 2nd. 7:30 pm.

Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19125

$5 (CASH ONLY, there’s an ATM on site and a Wells Fargo up the street)

Doors open at 4, we recommend getting there early to get a good seat!



Nerd Nite No. 76: Comic Book Sidekick Jack Monroe, 1969’s Hurricane Camille, Joke-Telling Robot, Plus the Return of SKELETOR!

NEW NN Logo 2015

Okay nerds, July is upon us and we have one of the greatest lineups ever for you! Check it out:

Glen Tickle: “Knock Knock, Who’s There? A Robot That Tells Jokes”

Comedian Glen Tickle programmed his daughter’s toy robot Mr. Toyboto to tell jokes and to generate his own original knock knock jokes using a deep learning neural network. The results are bananas.

Bio: Glen Tickle is a writer and comedian who focuses on doing dumb things like making a robot tell jokes or playing the violin bad. He can be heard on SiriusXM and his work has been all over the internet. Glen also runs Nerd Nite Bethlehem, and his debut comedy album Yes, Really debuted at #13 on the Billboard Comedy Album Charts. He’s nice, you’ll like him.

Emma Paras – “Hurricane Camille of 1969”

In this talk, Emma will be giving an overview of her favorite natural disaster, 1969’s Hurricane Camille. She’ll be talking about three things that make this storm particularly interesting as well as the impact it had on emergency management and risk communication as they’re known today!

Bio: Emma Paras is the Senior Emergency Preparedness Planner at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her background is in Emergency Management & Homeland Security, and Public Health. I’ve worked in a variety of emergency management roles including as a paramedic, municipal emergency management, and international emergency management with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Ian Chant will discuss Marvel Comics sidekick Jack Monroe.

In the world of comics, there’s only one job more hazardous than being a superhero’s arch-nemesis—being their sidekick. And while plenty of sidekicks have had it rough, there’s maybe no better cautionary tale about living in a superhero’s shadow than the story of Jack Monroe. Ian Chant recounts the life, times, and ignominious death of a kid who just wanted to help Captain America and was rewarded with several lifetimes worth of troubles.

Bio: Ian Chant is a writer, science journalist, and shameless fanboy whose work can be found in the pages of Popular Science, Nautilus, Scientific American, and pretty much any other publication that will cut him a check. You can also listen to him tell weird stories about animals every month on the podcast Menagerie.


Our returning entertainment for the night is the one, the only SKELETOR. Eternia’s master of evil will be performing some new songs and joined by our own Chris Cummins for a look at the literary classic Letters to E.T.

You won’t want to miss this one. Spread the word, and check out our Facebook event page.

The details:
Doors open at 4pm. Show at 7:30pm. We recommend you get there early to ensure getting a good seat!
$5 (cash only, there is an ATM on the premises and a Wells Fargo around the corner)
Wednesday, July 7th.
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue


Nerd Nite No 75: Philly Beer Week with a bunch of Nerds!

Nerd Nite No 75: Philly Beer Week with a bunch of Nerds!

Join Nerd Nite as we revel in Philly Beer Week on our 75th Nerd Nite. In between speakers we will have the return of Skeletor!

The first talk we’d like to announce is “The Origin of Beer” by Roger Barth. Beer is as old as civilization, and some anthropologists blame beer for the start of settled society. Unlike wine or mead, beer starts out as unfermentable starch. The sugar that the yeast converts to alcohol and carbon dioxide is made by breaking down starch in a process called mashing. How humans learned to mash has been a long-standing mystery. This talk will give a brief overview of the beer-making process and outline how it could have been discovered many millennia ago.

Have you ever stopped to ask why folks attend beer events? I mean, duh, to enjoy beer. But you’re going to do that anyway. Mary Grace Hodge will join us to talk about her research into people’s motivations behind attending beer events.

Finally, we’ll be hearing from our friends at Yards Brewing Co. and they’ll be bringing a fun hands on activity. Join us for a sensory discussion of hops with hands-on examination of the cones.

PLUS: the fun & frightful return of Skeletor!

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

Nerd Nite No. 74: A collaboration with YPACS

Join Nerd Nite and the Philadelphia Young Professionals of the American Cancer Society for our 74th Nerd Nite. In between speakers we will have the return of the dry t-shirt contest! Come in your nerdiest shirt, wear it with pride, you might win a prize!

Alexandra Psihogios will present “A High Cost for Low Adherence: Barriers to Adolescent/Young Adult Adherence to Cancer Treatments

When it comes to following medical recommendations, such as taking medications, changing our diets, or following a new exercise routine, most of us do not do exactly what the doctor orders. For adolescents and young adults with cancer (AYA), medical nonadherence is a pervasive but under-researched problem that is associated with devastating consequences. Cancer and its intensive treatments interrupt aspects of normative AYA development and family functioning, such as increased dependence on parents at a time when independence should be increasing. In this talk, I will discuss developmental and family functioning barriers to medical adherence, and how interventions that address these barriers may help to improve cancer outcomes for this vulnerable population.

Alexandra Psihogios, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in Behavioral Oncology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she conducts research and provides psychological consultation and intervention to patients with cancer and their families. Under the mentorship of Drs. Lamia Barakat and Lisa Schwartz, and with support from the American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Psihogios is completing her research on AYA canceradherence. She obtained her B.A. in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago.

David Issadore will talk about “Monitoring Cancer Progression, Metastasis, and Drug Efficacy via Exosomes

The transformative growth in microelectronics in the latter half of the 20th century was fueled fundamentally by the ability to simultaneously miniaturize and integrate complex circuits onto monolithic chips. The impact of this growth has been profound– computing is pervasive and portable, communication is instant and global, and information is ubiquitously gathered and shared. My research aims to harness these same electrical engineering approaches, which have enabled the microelectronic revolution, to solve high impact problems in medical diagnostics. To accomplish this goal my lab develops hybrid microchips, where microfluidics (i.e. micrometer sized plumbing) are built directly on top of semiconductor chips.

David Issadore is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the integration of microelectronics, microfluidics, nanomaterials and molecular targeting, and their application to medicine. This multidisciplinary approach enables Issadore’s lab to explore new technologies to bring medical diagnostics from expensive, centralized facilities, directly to clinical and resource-limited settings for applications including early detection of pancreatic cancer, Tuberculosis diagnosis in patients co-infected with HIV, and prognosis of traumatic brain injury.

Sara Meyer will give us the scoop on Acute Myeloid Leukemia

What is Acute Myeloid Leukemia and why do I study it? How did I even end up doing biomedical research to begin with? I’ll be describing why leukemia is such a challenging disease to treat by puzzling Doctors and Scientists for decades, what are some of the most significant research advancements and medical breakthroughs in leukemia, and go over what my research lab in the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson is doing to better understand and treat this disease.

Sara Meyer is an Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University in the Department of Cancer Biology. She earned her PhD at the University of Cincinnati (2009) and completed her postdoc fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (2016). Her primary research focus is acute myeloid leukemia (AML), where she uses the latest cutting-edge approaches and technologies for developing new model systems and studying the mechanisms of disease development, progression, and responsiveness to therapeutics. Dr. Meyer’s goal is to better understand and leverage the epigenetics and non-coding RNA biology of AML to inform new ways to treat the disease.

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

Nerd Nite 73: Young Ben Franklin, Operation Lusty, and the Zika Virus!

Our April Nerd Nite has three great talks lined up just for you! Coming in just one week, Nerd Nite alum Michael Ceriello will enthrall us with “Operation Lusty: Behind the Stolen Technology Which Enabled the Modern Aerospace Industry”, Chris Kuncio will regale us with “Re-Imagining the Image of Ben Franklin Pt. 1: The Boston Years – Drinking, Fighting, and the Enlightenment”, and Malaya Fletcher will be exploring her work with Zika and what it means for our region.

ALSO– local singer songwriter Emily Mineo will be joining us again for the entertainment portion of the night.

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

Admission: $10 – half of the proceeds will go to the March for Science!

Wednesday, April 5th
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Avenue