Nerd Nite No. 89: Higgs Boson, Biomedical/Animal Research, The Fonz

Hello again nerds!

It’s been awhile since our last Nerd Nite Philadelphia event, and we are so pleased to announce our triumphant return!

Our hiatus is over, and here’s the info on our next event:

Jonathan Heckman with “My Universe Is Bigger Than Yours. And So Is My Higgs Boson.”

Why is the Universe so big? And why are atoms so small? And what does it have to do with the Higgs boson? One of the big puzzles confronting physicists is how to make sense of the very big and the very small in a single framework. Explanations range from everything being a giant cosmic accident to the presence of deep new physical principles which control matter, space and time at the shortest scales imaginable. Come learn how theorists continue to propose new ideas and how experimentalists are beginning to test some of these proposals at particle accelerators and telescopes around the world.

Bio: Jonathan is an Assistant professor in the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania, and mainly works on string theory and what it can tell us about subatomic particles, the size of the Universe, and everything in between.

Dr. David Garbe, “Communicating the Importance of Biomedical and Animal Research Through Education”

Since 2012, in an effort to educate the public about the importance of biomedical and animal research, PSBR has engaged more than 26,000 students, 2,200 teachers, and countless numbers of the general public. It is our belief that quality education is essential for changing the conversation surrounding the lab animal and scientific communities while opening people’s eyes to the value of biomedical and animal research. During this talk, attendees will learn about PSBR and the programs we offer. We will also provide tips and strategies for communicating, debating, and exploring the health and medical benefits that humans, as well as animals, obtain from biomedical and animal research.

Bio: Dr. David Garbe went to high school in a small New York town called Narrowsburg. Following high school, he spent four years at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1998, Dr. Garbe embarked on his scientific journey in the laboratory of Dr. Meera Sundaram and performed cancer research using C. elegans as a model system. He then attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and used Drosophila melanogaster to study nervous system development. Upon obtaining his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at UPenn in 2007, Dr. Garbe performed research focused on discovering novel therapeutics for mood disorders at Pfizer and then investigated the underlying mechanisms of circadian biology and sleep at the University of Pennsylvania. During this time, Dr. Garbe was also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia as well as Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges.
Since joining the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research (PSBR) as their Outreach Educator in 2016, Dr. Garbe has developed numerous in-class programs and activities, presented to countless classrooms, and engaged over 4,000 students. Dr. Garbe also participates in Teacher Professional Development Programs, Science Fairs, Career Workshops, and Public Community Outreach initiatives. He was recently promoted to Director of Outreach and Education and looks forward to extending the scope, reach, and mission of the organization to educate the public about the importance of biomedical research and its significance to human and animal health.

Chris Cummins,”The Perfectamundo World of the Fonz”

Ayyy! In the late-1970s and early ’80s, The Fonz was the coolest being on Earth. But how did Henry Winkler’s portrayal of Milwaukee’s greatest greaser become such a pop culture touchstone? In this talk, Chris Cummins will explore the how, when, and why of how a Happy Days supporting character eventually dominated the show, discuss the merchandising bonanza he spawned (including two cartoon spin-offs) and generally talk about a brief but magical time in history when the Fonz was everything.

Bio: Nerd Nite Philly co-boss Chris Cummins is a regular contributor to Den of Geek, is the producer and host of the events Sci-Fi Explosion and Music Video Book Club, and is an Archie Comics historian.

Wednesday, February 6th. 7:30pm (arrive early to ensure you get a good seat).

Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Avenue

$5 (cash only, ATM on site and there’s a Wells Fargo up the street).



Nerd Nite No 87: Dying in Space, Star Wars and your Genome!

Here’s what we have lined up for you on August 1:

Death by Snu Snu or: All The Ways That Space Will Kill You.

Traveling to distant worlds has long been a dream of us earthbound humans, and incredible advances in technology mean humans will likely walk on Mars in the next few decades. The only limit is our imagination.

But there’s one little problem…space is a really scary place.

Join professor and science communicator Michael McConville for a sobering look at all the ways that space can kill us — from the dramatic to the mundane — and how scientists are trying to ensure that humans truly become an interplanetary species.

In space, no one can hear you scream, but they might see you boil.

Michael McConville has always wanted to be an astronaut, and as a fifteen-year veteran of the planetarium field, he gets to make others feel like astronauts every day. A six-time presenter at Nerd Nite Orlando, this is Michael’s first talk for Nerd Nite Philly! Michael is noted for his unique storytelling ability and a love of learning and exploration. This very particular set of skills is useful in his other day jobs, as sales manager for the planetarium company Spitz, Inc., and as a professor of American History. Michael is an alumnus (twice!) of the “maybe national champions” University of Central Florida.
What Can Your Genome Say About You?

In the last decade, we suddenly have access to each position in our DNA. My talk will focus on what this can (and cannot) tell us: about ancestry, health, and behavior.

Shweta Ramdas is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. She moved here from Michigan (go blue!) where she studied the genetics of diseases in humans.
The Law of Star Wars

Could Han Solo legally shoot first? Were R2-D2 and C-3PO unlawfully discriminated against in the Tatooine cantina? From war crimes to child custody, the Star Wars galaxy is brimming with legal issues. Join attorney and Army JAG officer Thomas Harper for a breakdown of some of the biggest legal topics in the galaxy far, far away.

Thomas Harper is a Lehigh Valley attorney with the firm Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo. Thomas served on active duty as an Army JAG officer for seven years and now serves in the Army Reserves. During his time in the JAG Corps, Thomas served in a variety of positions, including as a prosecutor, criminal defense counsel, and as an Operational Law attorney advising on the law of war and rules of engagement in Afghanistan.

While he loves all things geek, he is a massive Star Wars fan and collector who may or may not still carry his lunch in a Darth Vader lunchbox. Thomas blogs and podcasts for The Legal Geeks (, using Star Wars to teach about a wide variety of legal topics. He regularly shares his love of Star Wars on the national stage, and has presented at San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, WonderCon, and DragonCon. You can follow him on Twitter at @thomasLharper.

Plus, nerdy fun, surprises and perhaps even a little bonus talk!

Join us!

Nerd Nite Philadelphia

Wed., Aug 1. 7:30 pm (doors at 4, we recommend getting there early to ensure you score a good seat).

$5 cash only, there is an ATM onsite and a Wells Fargo up the street.

Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Ave, in the heart of Fishtown

Nerd Nite #86: Paleontology, STEM Gender Biases, Game Masters Giveaway

Greetings Nerds! Our next Nerd Nite will be July 11 due to July 4 landing on our usual Wednesday (so go to the Jersey shore! Barbeque! Enjoy Welcome America!)

Here’s what we have lined up for you:

“The Science of Dinosaur Art” by Christopher DiPiazza

Prehistoric animals have always fascinated us. But how do we know what they really looked like? How much is imagination and how much is real science? Paleoartist, Christopher DiPiazza sheds light on the process of bringing long extinct beasts back to life through art.

Bio- Christopher DiPiazza is a paleoartist, employed by paleontologists and museums to paint life reconstructions of prehistoric animals as scientifically accurate as possible. He is also a full time science teacher, and was a zookeeper for over a decade. Christopher has a degree in animal science from Rutgers University.

Joshua Raclaw will be discussing Vocal Fry.

Kelley Commeford will be giving a talk about Gender Biases in STEM.

Plus, nerdy fun, surprises and perhaps even a giveaway or two!

Join us!

Nerd Nite Philadelphia

Wed., July 11. 7:30 pm (doors at 4, we recommend getting there early to ensure you score a good seat).

$5 cash only, there is an ATM onsite and a Wells Fargo up the street.

Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Ave, in the heart of Fishtown

Nerd Nite No. 85: Ebola/Petty Moments in Science History/Nerdy Dry T-Shirt Contest

We are one week later than usual, on Wednesday, June 13th, and what a lineup we have for you:

Hannah Lawman: “What a Snake Can Teach Us About the 2015 Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone”

This talk explores some of the behavioral aspects of the 2015 Ebola epidemic and efforts to support behavior change to halt the spread of the disease. Learn how you can be a part of current efforts to rebuild communities after the devastating epidemic through work by Welbodi Sierra Leone, a 501(c)3 nonprofit providing scholarships for girls.

Bio: Dr. Hannah Lawman received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of South Carolina and specializes in health behavior change and research methodology. She worked as an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and currently works as Director of Research and Evaluation for Get Healthy Philly at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Outside of her day job, she founded and directs Welbodi Sierra Leone, a nonprofit that supports health and education in Sierra Leone.

Alexis Pedrick, “Petty Moments in History: Science Edition”

Bio: Alexis Pedrick is the Science History Institute’s Manager of Public Programs and co-host of the Distillations Podcast which explores the human stories behind science and technology. She works with Science on Tap and the Philadelphia Science Festival. She is known for her Laurel Hill Cemetery tours on Victorian era scandals and superstitions as well as her history –themed Nerd Nite talks. She was nominated for Geekadelphia’s Geek of the Year in 2015 and was recently a guest on the popular game show podcast, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.

Plus: The Return of the Nerdy Dry T-Shirt Contest! Do you have a nerdy T-shirt that you want to show off AND have the chance to win the admiration of your peers and some fabulous prizes? Then join us for this fun contest/fashion show!

Cover’s $5 which gets you in to the show and happy hour specials throughout the evening.

Wed., June 13th. 7:30pm (doors open at 4, we recommend getting there early to ensure you get a good seat)

$5, cash only (an ATM is on site)

Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Avenue, in the heart of Fishtown


Nerd Nite 84: #ZeroWaste with KPB, UBB and PWD

Join Nerd Nite for a special event with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, the Philadelphia Water Department, and United By Blue! There will be talks about waste reduction! Info about getting involved in a local cleanups! Trivia with giveaways from all four of our organizations! $5 gets you in the door for a night of fun.

First up, Nic Esposito:

Nic’s talk will focus on the creation of the Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan, which was released last year and is one of the most comprehensive and collaborative initiatives Philadelphia has every created to combat litter and improve waste management. Nic will nerd out about the complexity and excitement of tracking down and stopping short dumpers. And he’ll also take a deep dive on how detrimental our disposable culture has been on our city and our planet and actions people can take to reduce the waste in Philadelphia.

Nic Esposito is the Zero Waste and Litter Director for the City of Philadelphia. He served as a PowerCorpsPHL project manager for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and then as their Sustainability Manager. He was then selected by the Managing Director’s Office to take on the challenge of creating a coordinated public and private sector plan to address Philadelphia’s litter problem and set Philadelphia on a path to Zero Waste by 2035.

Adam Hendricks from Philadelphia Water Department will discuss options and opportunities for food waste recycling in the City of Philadelphia. He will cover some of PWD’s current efforts and his own research into food waste recycling.

Adam Hendricks supervises the Research Program in the Planning and Environmental Services division of the Philadelphia Water Department. He has been with PWD for 7 years, and previously worked on policy and regulations surrounding stormwater management. He has lived in Philadelphia since 2001 and currently resides in West Philly.

United By Blue’s Bastianna Mene will talk Bison Fiber and how that relates to reducing waste in the supply chain!

Bastianna is the Production Manager at United By Blue, often referred to by her team as ‘Bison Basti.’ She is a fiber nerd by choice and recently became certified in fiber grading and sorting.

In this talk, Bastianna will discuss the use of natural fibers in the apparel industry, walk you through each step of United By Blue’s unique bison fiber supply chain and how they are reducing the amount of waste generated from the ranching industry.

Wednesday, May 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!