Nerd Nite Returns!

Nerd Nite Boston returns at 7:00 PM on Thursday, February 16th at the Aeronaut Brewery in Somerville. The event is free, but the beer is the usual price.

We’ll have a talk on sexual reproduction in corals, and at least one other to be announced.

It’s been almost 18 months since our last Nerd Nite, and we couldn’t be more excited to get together with all our nerds again. Celebrating peer reviewed science, be it physical or social, is more important than ever.

Nerd Nite November

November’s #NNBoston will be our last at the Middlesex. The past 4 or 5ish years have been a sweet and successful partnership. We wish the bar all the best as it changes format (and are open to suggestions for a new home if you’ve got ’em). For this last hurrah at the lounge, join us as we celebrate our people, the rare birds who thrive in the space where intelligence, obsession, and social ineptitude meet.

Talk 1 – “Romance for Nerds: an Introduction to the World’s Most Popular and Least Understood Genre” by Jennifer Webb

Porn for women? Tool of the patriarchy? What are those books with buff men and swooning ladies on the covers? Who reads them? And why? Romance fans, like comics geeks and fanboys/girls, are viewed with suspicion by mainstream culture. Jennifer pulls back the embossed covers and talks about the good, the bad, and the unrealistically attractive in the world of romance novels.

Jennifer is a librarian, life-long book nerd, fandom lurker, and pop culture aficionado. She may be found on Twitter at @eviltwinjen and Tumblr at

Talk 2 – “The Art and Science of Simulated Soda” by Will Brierly

In recent years first person soda simulation has expanded to mass markets worldwide. From the beginning, Soda Drinker Pro has been the leading innovator in pushing the boundaries of this technology. This talk will cover the past, present, and future of simulated soda drinking technology and its broad societal impacts.

For the past 14 years Will Brierly has run Snowrunner Productions. He has worked with Grammy Award winning artists, Emmy Award winning TV shows, NY Times best selling authors, international government agencies, video games and more… He is also known for creating the first FPS (first person Soda drinking simulation) Soda Drinker Pro which has hundreds of thousands of players worldwide and has been featured on CNN, Mashable, Game Informer, Kotaku, Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other media outlets.

Be there. Be square.

Middlesex Lounge | 315 Massachusetts Avenue | Central Square, Cambridge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite September: The Welcome Back Edition

Aaand we’re back! After a lovely summer break, Nerd Nite Boston is ready for fall and all the nerdy lectures that come with it.

Talk 1 – “Building like termites: Bio-inspired robotic construction” by Paul Kassabian

Traditional human construction relies on detailed structural design, careful sequencing of assembly steps, and extensive top-down coordination of workers. By contrast, builders in nature construct large-scale structures through the actions of many independent agents with no centralized control. These structures are built in ways responsive to features of the local environment and the changing needs of the group.  What if we could develop autonomous robots that could achieve this?  This talk will present the start of this development…

Paul is a structural engineer who designs unique structures at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) and teaches graduate engineering students at MIT in the Fall and Harvard’s GSD in the Spring.   His current projects include various structures with innovative materials and behavior using SGH’s in-house lab that are on the cutting edge of both structural systems and materials.  He is also working with Harvard’s Wyss Institute on a robotics project related to their TERMES work.

Talk 2: Back by popular demand, – “How to Teach a Robot to Bake Cookies” by Mario Bollini

A return of a March 2014 talk on teaching a robot to bake cookies, or in academic speak, it will discuss “motion and task planning for a mobile manipulator in semi-structured human environments.” It will tell the heartwarming story of a robot that yearned to leave the lab and enter the kitchen, punctuated with every roadblock reality placed in its path.

Mario Bollini is a local entrepreneur who earned his Master’s degree from MIT by teaching a robot to autonomously bake. He currently is the Chief Technology officer of GRIT, a local social enterprise that designs off-road wheelchairs for developing countries. He is also the founder of Democratech, a local design collaborative that crowd-funded Sprout, a plantable pencil that can grow into flowers and herbs.

29 September 2014 | Middlesex Lounge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite May: Design Talks co-hosted by the BSLA EPs and the BSA EPNet

Talk 1: “BA…or BS: Landscape Architecture” by Landon Young

Landscape architects can be found doing many things – designing human spaces, curating culture, restoring habitat, creating art, the list goes on. We are criticized for trying to be engineers, architects, horticulturalists, artists, and planners. Yet with education shifting to interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial thinking, this Jack-of-all-trades discipline facilitates the human-centered design skills and systems thinking critical for success. In this talk, Landon describes his unusual journey from traditional practice to genetic engineering, organic agriculture, and tech entrepreneurship in Africa.

Landon Young is Director of Creativity and Innovation at William Jewell College, a National Science Foundation Fellow, a Kauffman Global Scholar, and Curator for the World Economic Forum. Landon earned a B.S. in Landscape Architecture, M.S. in Interdisciplinary Ecological Science and Engineering, and is currently pursuing a PhD from Purdue University.

Talk 2 by Siqi Zhu

Siqi Zhu is an urban designer and technologist whose work focuses on using place-based design and development strategies to improve challenging urban conditions and devising alternative methods of analysis, ideation, and communication to enhance that process. Currently a senior designer at Utile, a Boston-based architecture and urban planning practice, his notable projects include the Boston Complete Streets. Previously, he was a research fellow at MIT Senseable City lab, where he lead data visualization projects for corporate and institutional partners. He also completed a major interactive exhibit for the Singapore National Museum that explored the use of an universal “data browser” to narrate dynamic urban conditions. He hopes to bring some of the analysis and communication potential of the data visualization field back into the practice of urban design.

19 May 2014 | Middlesex Lounge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite April!

AKA The Kids Are Alright with DNA Nanotechnology

Talk 1 – “Making (Tiny) Stuff Out of DNA” by Richie Kohman, PhD

Everyone knows that DNA is the molecule that contains the genetic code of life, but did you know that researchers are now using it as a building material as well?  In fact, structures made from DNA may be the most intricate nanoscale objects ever made by humans. This talk will introduce the field of DNA nanotechnology and give a brief overview of its history and current status.  Find out not only what you can make out of it, but also what DNA nanotechnology is good for.

Richie has worked on a variety of research projects such as creating biomaterials for regenerative medicine and gene therapy, turning brain cells on and off with light, and developing surgical methods to deliver drugs into the brain. He is now pursuing various scientific endeavors at the interface between neuroscience and nanotechnology. Richie received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is now a postdoc in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University and a research affiliate in the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Talk 2 – “What the kids are learning these days: an exploration of learning through play” by Jackie Gonzalez

Informal youth educator & creative technologist Jackie Gonzalez shares anecdotes that highlight the innovative ways local educators are trying to re-engage youth in their own learning. From preschool robotics to 3D modeling to wearable tech, school has never looked so cool.

Jackie is the program manager of the Flagship Computer Clubhouse, located at the Museum of Science, Boston. Prior to her involvement at the Clubhouse, she has worked as an educator of robotics and other STEAM initiatives through work with an assortment of Boston-area groups, including PBS’s Design Squad, FableVision Studios, the DevTech group at Tufts University, and the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

28 April 2014 | Middlesex Lounge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite March!

(Or, Look Who’s Talking about Robots that Bake Cookies)

Talk 1 – “How to Teach a Robot to Bake Cookies” by Mario Bollini

This talk will teach you how to teach a robot to bake cookies, or in academic speak, it will discuss “motion and task planning for a mobile manipulator in semi-structured human environments.” It will tell the heartwarming story of a robot that yearned to leave the lab and enter the kitchen, punctuated with every roadblock reality placed in its path.

Mario Bollini is a local entrepreneur who earned his Master’s degree from MIT by teaching a robot to autonomously bake. He currently is the Chief Technology officer of GRIT, a local social enterprise that designs off-road wheelchairs for developing countries. He is also the founder of Democratech, a local design collaborative that crowd-funded Sprout, a plantable pencil that can grow into flowers and herbs.

Talk 2 – “How We Complicate Things for Babies to Make Language Learning Easy” by Mohinish Shukla

What kind of learner is a human baby? We used to believe that the baby was a blank canvas that experience painstakingly painted on in incremental steps. While studying how infants pick up the structure of language spoken around them, we now know that this picture is wrong. Instead, babies arrive equipped with a Swiss-army-knife toolkit of cognitive capacities that help them rapidly impose structure on what they perceive. According to the old, incremental view, learning is a step-wise process, where babies learn simple stuff, then use that knowledge to learn harder stuff. In this talk, Mo will describe results that show 6-month-olds succeeding at a word-learning task that 9-month-olds typically fail!

Mo started studying microbiology and molecular genetics, switched to ecology, then neurophysiology, and somehow ended up studying how humans learn language. He received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati in Trieste, Italy, and then spent four years in Rochester, NY, as a post-doctoral fellow. He currently is one of three principal investigators at the UMass Boston Baby Lab.

31 March 2014 | Middlesex Lounge| 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite February features the MIT Water Club!

Talk 1 – “Membrane Desalination: Past, Present, and Future” by Leo Banchik

Since the 1960’s, membrane desalination technologies have burst out of the lab to become the most energy efficient way to attain pure water from saline waters. Reverse osmosis (RO), in particular, has made tremendous strides and the amount of energy it consumes is nearing the thermodynamic limit. While new RO plants continue to be built around the world, new membrane technologies, such as forward osmosis and pressure-retarded osmosis, are receiving great attention in scientific literature. These technologies may further decrease the energetic costs of RO desalination or replace RO systems altogether. How do these technologies work? In which markets can these technologies be applied? What is reverse osmosis anyway? This talk will attempt to answer these questions and more.

Leo is a PhD student at MIT aiming to improve the performance of membrane-based desalination technologies. As a master’s student, he studied osmotic mass exchangers for use in desalination, energy recovery, and salinity gradient power production. Leo currently serves as Vice President of the MIT Water Club, a group which connects researchers working in the water sector to related industries. Prior to grad school, Leo worked at the Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and at Oak Ridge National Lab. When not in classes, he enjoys playing a variety of string instruments, reading, cooking, biking, and developing websites.

Talk 2 – “Ceramic Water Filter Design for Developing Countries” by Amelia Servi

Amelia will discuss challenges faced in getting clean water to the rural poor of the developing world. In particular, she will describe her work with ceramic pot filters, a locally produced, household-level water treatment option, and her experience addressing the design and manufacturing challenges of the product.

Amelia spent the last few years working with ceramic pot filters as part of a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering at MIT.  Through her work she spent time with filter manufactures in both Cambodia and Ghana. Amelia is currently continuing her interest in water treatment, pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at MIT working on desalination systems.

24 Feb 2014 | Middlesex Lounge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite January 2014!

Talk 1 – “Slope : Intercept” by Sara Hendren

A ramp is a machine. It’s a deceptively humble object—but it’s everywhere. From building the pyramids to industrial mechanics to the politics of skateboarding, the ramp—an inclined plane, one of Galileo’s iconic “simple machines”—has multiple lives with profound social consequences. It inspired an entire utopian architectural practice in 1960s Paris. It made the dramatic, controversial construction of large-scale highways possible in the last half century. And it’s been a way for people to move about cities in playful and political ways—on a skateboard, or using a wheelchair. Sara Hendren wakes the inclined plane as a sleeping technology, uncovering the ways this simple geometry has altered social and cultural history.

Sara is an artist, design researcher, and writer in Cambridge. She writes and edits Abler at Gizmodo, and she lectures at Rhode Island School of Design. She’s @ablerism on Twitter.

Talk 2 – “Ask Us Anything (No, really, that’s our job): the World of Public Librarians” by Meagan Parker and Colin Wilkins

Libraries aren’t silent book warehouses with card catalogs and dusty shelves. Instead, libraries are vibrant–and often loud–places of connection, technology, and collaboration. Public librarians Meagan Parker and Colin Wilkins reveal what it is they do all day (hint: it’s not reading), share bizarre but true stories from the library world, and discuss how libraries are evolving in the 21st century.

Meagan is the Programming and Community Outreach Librarian at Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA. A Wisconsin native, Meagan attended DePaul University and University of Wisconsin-Madison before moving to New England. Fulfilling librarian stereotypes, she owns two cats and wears lots of cardigans.

Colin is a Reference and Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Public Library of Brookline. A product of Springfield, VT, and a graduate of Davidson College and Simmons College, he is currently training to run the 2014 Boston Marathon to raise money for the Brookline Library Foundation.

 27 Jan 14 | Middlesex Lounge | 8PM | $5

Nerd Nite Boston 10 Year Anniversary Party & Winter Soul-stice!


Tuesday | 12/10/13 | OBERON | 2 Arrow Street | Harvard Square, Cambridge | 8PM | $10

Ladies, gentlemen, nerds. It is with great pleasure that we invite you to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Nerd Nite in Boston. The last 10 times the earth has gone around the sun, some of the apes that think they’re in charge of the planet have gathered monthly to drink beer and talk about science, art, history, language, film, books, engineering, and whatever else they want. Some other apes in other cities thought this was a good idea and now Nerd Nite is a global phenomenon.

But it started here! And so, we celebrate that beginning.


A minimum of two fantastic presentations, one from Canada’s Greatest Know It All and nerd nite fixture, Andrew Rader. Don’t miss his talk on the technology of Star Trek, how we’re already living in the future, and how we’re not.

Nerd Nite founder Chris Balakrishnan returns to Boston to give the talk that started it all: Brood parasitism in indigo birds!!!

We’re experimenting with lots of fun stuff this year, so prepared to be surprised. Or don’t. Surprises work better that way. 😉


Spirited all-vinyl DJ sets from Claude Money of Soulelujah and Athena Moore of Cool Kids Club!


Bring a nerdy gift of less than $25 that you don’t mind walking home with at the end of the night and walk home with a different yet equally nerdy gift.


Your festive best.


Click here to purchase tickets in advance.

Nerd Nite 10/28/13 !!!

Something nerdy this way comes…

Talk 1: “Why Your PCP Should Have a DMD” by Alexandra Bassett, Tufts D’14

Perfect teeth have been a sign of wealth and poverty and a cherished aspect of attractiveness for thousands of years. Yet few understand oral health disease and its effects, quickly regarding the dental visit as a chore instead of an educational adventure! The dentist, more than ever, has the unique potential to develop healthy habits in our nation’s population: No other doctor sees a patient as often or has the kind of intimate information about a person’s health that teeth can give. There is an inherent mystery behind that strange orifice of your mouth, a expressive vessel – literally and figuratively – of your eating habits, stress level, genetic origins, and even your identity itself. Alexandra Bassett, 2014 DMD candidate and current Albert Schweitzer Fellow, will discuss several common dental questions – ones, judging by the fact that she gets them at almost every cocktail party, you are all dying to know.

Talk 2: “Nobody knows best.” by Clara Vandeweerdt

Why do we keep buying clothes that looked awesome in the store, but that we never wear again after that one cocktail party? Why did you keep asking your mom for a goldfish when you were seven, but decided that Bubbles was boring only two weeks after she finally gave in? And why is it that, whenever you talk to somebody who didn’t get a job they wanted, they always say it ‘turned out for the best’? It looks as if people are pretty terrible at predicting how they will feel about something in the future. Time to find out why.

Clara Vandeweerdt is an experimental psychologist-turned-student of international relations. At KU Leuven University in Belgium, she researched human judgment and decision making. Now, she is enrolled at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

You know the deal, Nerds. Two talks, interesting discussion, funky tunes provided by DJ Claude Money. Doors at 8PM, 5 Doll-hairs. We’re just coming off of our super successful speed dating event. Tim’s voice is almost back! Gear up for your Halloween bacchanalia by learning about enjoyment. And learn about dentistry right before you start eating way too much candy.

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