Author Archive

Nerdnite November 28: Suboptimal solutions to solved problems

Please join us the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 28, for the latest bout of Boston Nerdnery. We’ll kick things off at 8pm at the Middlesex. DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd-appropriate tunes. If you’d like to learn more about this month’s talks, the speakers, and possibly to find a job — read on.

Talk 1: On the vices and joys of machining at home: Blue collar aspirations of white collar men.
by Tom Trikalinos
Finding what works in healthcare is what he does in his day job, but in his other lives, Tom and his friends work on unorthodox projects that combine machining, digital electronics, house cleaning appliances, coffee, chalk and evidence-based medicine to provide suboptimal solutions to solved problems. He’ll describe one of these. Tom is Co-director of the Tufts Evidence-based practice Center and faculty at Tufts. Tom and his colleagues perform comparative effectiveness research, i.e., they try to understand whether what the doctor orders is what the patient needs. They analyze other people’s research to assess health technologies including drugs, surgeries, and tests.

If you are a programmer, a statistician, or a mathematician in search for a job, you may want to let him know.

Talk 2: What Art Can Tell Us About the Brain
by Brandon Moore
Brandon is a two-time Nerdnite lecturer — it’s great to have him back. He’s currently a research assistant with the Livingstone lab at Harvard Medical School and is applying to PhD programs in neuroscience. He has been fascinated with the way that the brain processes visual information and how art as well as optical illusions can be used to help investigate the neural basis of vision.

Be there and be square!
Monday November 28, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Check out our Facebook Group, our Facebook Page or our Twitter feed (search Nerdnite Boston).

Nerdnite October 24: Boston History and Viruses

The next Nerdnite is set for Monday October 24, 8pm at the Middlesex — note that we’re a week early this month due to Halloween. We have a frighteningly good lineup this month…see below for details. As always, DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd-appropriate tunes.

The talks:
1. A Tourist in My Own City: Uncovering the Weird and Interesting Right in Front of Our Eyes
by Devin Cole

Devin grew up in Boston, taking the train to and from high school. He got a chance to explore the other side of the river during his college days at Harvard, where, unlike many of his classmates, he actually left Harvard Square occasionally. Devin is now Director of Engagement & Programs at Boston World Partnerships, a job that connects him with people in all different parts of town, and in all different industries, that are united by their common desire to strengthen their city and expand its opportunities. These experiences as a life-long Boston-area resident left Devin curious about the lesser-known nooks and crannies of his hometown, and the history they contain — the subject of his talk.

2. Dinosaurs, Zombies, and Shapeshifters: A Paleovirologist’s Guide to Our DNA.
by Ravi Subramanian

Ravi Subramanian is a postdoctoral associate at Tufts University. When not complaining about funding or trying to convince graduate students to get out of science while they still can, he studies endogenous retroviruses in human evolution and disease. This almost justifies the amount of time he spends watching videos of lemurs and marmosets.

Be there and be square!
Monday October 24, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Check us out on Facebook or Twitter

Nerdnite September 26: Economics, Endurance, and Evil

Please join us Monday September 26 for a super-sized, back-to-school edition of Nerdnite featuring three fantastic speakers. To accommodate our expanded lineup we’ll get things started an hour earlier than usual — 7pm at the Middlesex. DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd-appropriate tunes.

Here’s the lineup:

1. What is Evil? Understanding Human Cruelty in a Secular World
by Kate Elliott
Kate is a social worker who has been providing mental health services in the state prison system for the past 9 years. From MCI Framingham (the women’s prison) to Walpole (the old max) to Souza-Baranowski (the new max), she has been treating inmate clients and wondering about such questions as: what makes people violent? how do we understand murder? and how do we teach moral behavior to adults? Having come of age reading JRR Tolkein and Madeline L’Engle and CS Lewis, she now reads grown-up books about the psychology and philosophy of good and evil – but still keeps an eye out for chances to take a stand against the dark forces.

2. What Albums and Lattes Have in Common: Consumer Psychology and the Music Business
by Jodi Beggs
Jodi is an economist and writer whose focus is on making economics accessible and entertaining to a general audience. She is (slowly) working on her Ph.D. in Business Economics, and she’s been studying the music industry ever since teaching an economics tutorial entitled “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll.” Jodi writes about economics on her web site “Economists Do It With Models” and for various other online publications, and she will talk your ear off on the subject if you aren’t careful.

3. The Evolution of Endurance Running
by Dave Rosen
Dave is a PhD student in robotics by day and a distance-running enthusiast by night (or sometimes by entirely-too-early morning).  When he’s not in lab developing improved inference methods for badass robots, he can often be found running long distances around the Charles at ludicrous (or at least moderate) speed.  He first learned of the Endurance Running Hypothesis while researching improved training methods, and thought it was sufficiently cool to merit a Nerd Nite talk.

Be there and be square!
Monday September 26, 7pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Find us on Facebook & Twitter — search “Nerdnite Boston”

Nerdnite August 29: “[indaudible]”

The next Nerdnite takes place Monday August 29 at Middlesex Lounge. We hope you’ll join us as Nerdnite makes a foray into the world of nerdy cinema, and approaches our science-nerd bread-and-butter territory from a new angle with a talk on alternative medicine and placebos. As always, DJ Claude Money will spin nerd-appropriate tunes, sharing the stage with this month’s outstanding speakers. Here is the lineup:

Talk 1. “Mumblecore: The Movement That Didn’t Roar” by Maria San Filippo.

Maria saw Blue Velvet at the impressionable age of 14, so naturally she now teaches cinema studies. She has a PhD from UCLA and currently is a visiting lecturer at Harvard and Wellesley, where she teaches “Virgins, Vamps, & Camp: Gender and Sexuality in Classical Hollywood Cinema” and “Happy Endings?: The Hollywood Romantic Comedy” among other courses. Her book The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. Her friends, relatives, and therapist often admonish her that real life isn’t like the movies…but mumblecore just may prove them wrong.

Talk 2: “How do people heal? An Integration of Acupuncture, Meditation and Placebo Research” by Jessica Shaw.

Jessica has worked for Harvard Medical School as a consultant on studies of alternative medicine since 2004. She is also the Practice Manager and Acupuncturist at Balanced Health in downtown Boston and spends entirely too much time thinking about this problem.

Be there and be square!
Monday August 29, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Facebook: search “nerdnite boston”

Nerdnite July 25 – Totally “Awesome”

The next installment in the Boston Nerdnite saga takes place Monday July 25 at Middlesex Lounge. We’re very excited to be collaborating with the Awesome Foundation for this month’s Nerdnite — our speakers this month have both received grants from the Foundation to fund their nerdery and send it in more awesome directions. The Awesome Foundation is an experiment in micro-philanthropy that began in Boston 2 years ago. Individual gifts of $100 make up monthly $1,000 no-strings-attached fellowships awarded to people forwarding the interest of awesome in the world. Since it’s inception, they’ve funded and encouraged oodles of hair-brained schemes and double-dog dared similarly minded people to do the same by starting chapters in their own cities. The current tally is 20+ chapters worldwide and counting. Big thanks to Kara Brickman from AF for curating this month’s lineup, and helping to get this collaboration going.

We’ll start at 8pm as usual.  DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd appropriate tunes.

On to the talks:

1. Cyborgs R Us: How to Resist World Domination!
by Sara Hendren

Sara likes to think about cyborgs and robots as much as the next nerd. She’s an artist, and she’s interested in things like superhuman prosthetic limbs, hearing aid jewelry, drone soldiers, furniture that gives hugs — and what technology and design can show us about global disability rights. In September, she’ll be starting the program in Art, Design, and the Public Domain at Harvard. Check out her website here.

2. The “ME2!!!X”
by Charles Guan
Mastermind behind the assortment of megavehiclomechanical creations, Charles Guan will be speaking about his Awesome Foundation Fellowship garnering proposal to build a single-wheel holonomic balancing vehicle based on reverse engineering the patent from a yet to be released vehicle model that rhymes with “Fonda”. Charles is a prolific hacker, tinkerer, designer and maker of combat robotics. He calls himself a “hobbyist” but we have a sneaking suspicion he may “accidentally” build our robot overlords. Have a look at some videos of his creations.

Be there and be square!
Monday July 25, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Facebook: Search “Nerdnite Boston”

Nerdnite June 27 – Sleepin’ with the zombies

Dearest Friends of Nerdnite,

Please join us on Monday June 27th, 8pm at the Middlesex for another nerd-tastic evening of learning and beer.  As always, DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd-appropriate tunes.

Talk 1: “Wake, REM, Light, Deep, and WTF: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Sleep & Dreams”
by Steve Fabregas
Steve is a professional sleeper, amateur photographer, and aspiring geek. He’s spent the last few years with Zeo, Inc, learning, thinking, and innovating in the world of sleep while trying to bridge the gap between scientific research and curious consumers. Steve’s not sure if the geek thing means that he’s aspiring to be a geek or that he’s already a geek who aspires to more; we think the answer is in the question.

Talk 2: The Neurobiology of Zombies
by Jeremy Kay
You might think of zombies as lowly B-movie material, but scientists have discovered many instances of zombie-like behavior in nature. Updating the talk that he gave several years ago, Jeremy will give some creepy examples. Jeremy is a postdoctoral fellow in neurobiology at Harvard — and one of the Nerdnite Boston Bosses. He loves referring to himself in the third person. His professional work concerns vision… his fascination with zombies is purely recreational. Really. Like, your brains will totally not get eaten if you show up. We promise.

Be there and be square!
Monday June 27, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA

Nerdnite May 30: Psychopaths and slot machines

Dear Friends of Nerdnite,

There’s no better way to wrap up your memorial day weekend than with a beer and some nerdy infotainment.  So join us on Monday May 30, 8pm at the Middlesex, for the next Nerdnite, and learn a thing or two about psychopaths and beating slot machines with math.

Before we get to the talks, I just want to direct everyone’s attention to our new Facebook “Page.” In the past, Nerdnite Boston has used a Facebook “Group.” For some reason, Facebook has seen fit to encourage folks like us, who use “Groups” for announcing events, to switch over to “Pages.” So head on over and give our Page a try — you can “Like” us and sign up through RSS or “page favorites” to receive updates on our events. For now, you can follow announcements and happenings related to Nerdnite Boston on both the Group and Page, but we’ll be looking for feedback from you to see which everyone likes better.

And with that, here is the lineup for Memorial Day Nerdnite:

Talk 1:  “Free Money: The Art and Science of Beatable Slot Machines”
by Zach Alexander
Zach is a cook at the Beacon Hill Friends House by day and an aspiring web entrepreneur by night. He was formerly a neuroscience lab administrator and research assistant at Harvard, until spring 2010 when he quit to embark on a road trip across the U.S. and Canada as a professional advantage gambler, or as he likes to say, “freelance applied mathematician.” He is considering writing a book about the experience, and competing for the Guiness World Record for “Most Hilarious Career Path Ever.”

Talk 2: “Stalking the Sasquatch; Or, Are There Psychopaths Among Us?
by John Fennel
If you ever wanted to know what happens to failed philosophy Ph.Ds, here is one sad case. After giving up philosophy, John Fennel became an attorney who represents convicted sex offenders at lifetime civil commitment hearings. Young nerds heed his sorry example! In this talk, John will discuss the science behind that staple of detective novels and movie thrillers — the psychopath — and how this science is applied in our legal system. John hastens to emphasize that he doesn’t spend *all* his time with sex offenders — he is a true bicycle geek (owner of 6 1/2 bicycles who once, inadvertently, blew his nose on Viatcheslav Ekimov during a bicycle race in South Carolina).

Be there and be square!
Monday May 30, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Look for us on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.


Nerdnite Nerdtacular – Friday May 6

Friends of Nerdnite,

We’re thrilled to announce the lineup for the first-ever Boson Nerdnite Nerdtacular, which will take place Friday May 6, 7pm at the MIT Museum in Cambridge.  The Nerdtacular will feature three really awesome (and nerdy) speakers, a larger venue, and a convenient Friday night timeslot. As you can imagine, we are very excited about it, and we hope you are too. In case you’re wondering, since the event is in a museum… yes, beer will be served, and nerd-appropriate tunes will be spun. It’s just like a regular Nerdnite, only more Nerdtacular.

This event is part of the fabulous Cambridge Science Festival, which runs from April 30 to May 8 — check out the full schedule here. There are tons of events that will appeal to the median Nerdnite audience member…we highly recommend you peruse their website and see if anything strikes your fancy.

Here is the Nerdtacular lineup:

1. “Shapely Sheets: Curved folding at an [almost] architectural scale”
by Joel Lamere

Joel has been teaching courses in architectural geometry, design and representation at MIT since 2007. He also has been active in architectural practice in the Boston area, working on design and realization of the Community Rowing Boathouse and Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute, both while with Anmahian Winton Architects. He also acted as canopy design and fabrication consultant to Utile Inc. for their Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion, currently under construction on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. In 2010, he co-founded GLD, a collaborative design practice.

2. “Pwned: The history of debt in the U.S. and how banks came to own you”
by Louis Hyman

Louis is a historian and newly-minted member of the Labor Relations, Law, and History faculty at Cornell University. His book, “Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink” came out recently. He worries what the book will do to his credit rating.

3. “Epitaph for the plankton: How tiny dead things quietly built the world as we know it”
by Hilary Close

Hilary is an organic geochemist finishing her Ph.D. in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. With degrees in Geology and Earth and Planetary Sciences, she considers her specialty to be an amalgam of prefixes, including Geo, Bio, Chem, Paleo, Marine, Organic, and Isotope. Her research has addressed biological contributions to the geologic record from modern times back to over a billion years ago. She is particularly fond of rocks, fossils, lipids, carbon isotopes, and the gunky green stuff in the ocean.

Plus — nerd-appropriate tunes by the Brobots.

Be there and be square
Friday May 6, 2011.
MIT Museum lobby
265 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

Nerdnite: The Trivia Night

Dear friends of Nerdnite,
Nerdnite is branching out — we’ve got two new events coming up in the next few weeks that we’ve never tried before, and we hope you’ll join us for both.  We are super-excited about our first ever Nerdnite Nerdtacular, which will take place Friday May 6 at the MIT Museum as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.  More details about that event are coming soon.

Because we’re gearing up for the Nerdtacular pretty soon, we thought we’d try something new with our usual last-monday-of-the-month time slot at the Middlesex.  Hence, we present to you “Nerdnite: The Trivia Night.”  You’ve been to trivia nights before, but you’ve never seen the Nerdnite take on it.  Yes, that does imply the use of Power Point.  So gather some friends, form a team (or find one when you arrive), and get ready to be challenged, entertained, and maybe even learn something.  Oh, and there will be prizes.

Please note: teams will be limited to 6 people max.  But if you come with more than that we expect that there will be a fair amount of new team formation as nerds mingle.

As always, DJ Claude Money will provide the nerd-appropriate tunes.

Thanks also to our co-sponsors for this event, Young Professionals in Energy. YPE is a non-profit energy industry networking organization with over 20,000 members worldwide. YPE is dedicated to providing a forum for networking and career development for professionals in the global energy industry. The desired outcome of YPE is to foster an environment where members can learn from each other’s experiences, share industry knowledge and discuss career matters. For information on upcoming events and leadership opportunities, please visit and click

Be there and be square
Monday April 25, 2011. 8pm.
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge

Nerdnite March 28: Nerds at play

The next Nerdnite is fast approaching — Monday March 28, 8pm at the Middlesex Lounge. In this edition, our talks will feature what I like to think of as “the lighter side of nerdery” — sports and video games. As always, DJ Claude Money will be on hand to spin nerd-appropriate tunes.

The talks:
#1: “The Sexy Social Science of NBA Basketball: Insights into Economics, Sociology, and Psychology from Professional Hoops”
by Adam Waytz

Adam is currently a post-doctoral fellow in psychology and neuroscience at Harvard University and will begin an assistant professor position in Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in Summer, 2011. He is also a founding member of the Free Darko writing collective and co-author of two books on NBA basketball, “Free Darko Presents: The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac” and “Free Darko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History.”

#2 “Break it Down: Prototyping Dance Central”
by Matt Boch
As a lead designer at the videogame design company Harmonix, Matt guides the direction of some of Harmonix’s premier titles. Matt began at Harmonix 4 years ago. In his first position, as creative hardware designer, Matt helped develop the look and feel of Rock Band’s iconic set of instruments. Matt transitioned to the game design world when Harmonix began work on Dance Central, where he was able to utilize his love for both music and dance. In his spare time, Matt is the lead singer for the Main Drag, is a VJ and video artist and makes video game remixes through his music project, AniGif.

Be there and be square!
Monday March 28, 8pm
Middlesex Lounge
315 Mass Ave, Cambridge

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