June 2017 – Plastics, Nutrition, Biodiversity

Nerd Nite Miami XXVI 6.8.17

1) One Word: Plastics by Nathan Laxague

The use of plastics in everyday objects has become as American as apple pie. As an example: good luck making apple pie without any plastic tools or implements. Not a problem, right? Plastics are light, cheap, and durable… maybe a bit too durable. I’ll give a brief history of our favorite family of synthetic polymers, talk about how they’ve become a part of our daily life, and do my best to describe what that means for the natural world and its inhabitants.

Nathan Laxague is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). He received his B.S. in physics and his Ph.D. in applied marine physics, both from UM. His research focuses on small-scale fluid mechanical processes which govern physical interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean. He is also a co-founder of Nerd Nite Miami (back for one night only!).

2) Fat or Fiction: Debunking Nutrition Myths by Amanda Gilhool

The world of nutrition has exploded in the past few decades, and there are more opinions circulating than there are calories in a Crunch Wrap Supreme. As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve heard people spread plenty of questionable information about food and the human body. Let’s talk about the inaccuracy of these nutrition fallacies that are popular in our society and the downright nerdy reasons why.

Amanda Gilhool is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) with her M.S. in Human Nutrition from Drexel University in her hometown of Philadelphia. She has worked in customer service, foodservice, private consulting, and clinical nutrition. Her hobbies include (but are thankfully not limited to) eating, napping, and watching animal videos on YouTube.

3) Biodiversity in Miami by Chelle King

Miami-Dade County is home to a great diversity of life, from Biscayne Bay to the Everglades, and all areas in between. You see examples of biodiversity everyday –

February 2017 – Archaeoastronomy, Everglades, Forensic Anthropology

Ancient Aliens and Crystal Skulls: The Stellar Truth About Archaeoastronomy
by Mallory Fenn

Let’s set the record straight: archaeologists have never actually uncovered alien skulls, ancient spacecraft, or found evidence for any extraterrestrial species’ involvement in the construction of monuments or pyramids. However, some archaeologists do study the way human beings interacted with space thousands of years ago. While light pollution has changed the way we see the sky today, celestial bodies were of vast importance to ancient humans. The movement of the sun, moon, stars and planets are thought to have affected architecture, landscaping, and the way people living all over the planet understood the universe. We’ll be talking about real archaeoastronomy, and how scientists figure out what the sky meant to human beings before light pollution.

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Snakes in the (saw)Grass
by Dawn Shirreffs

Pulling back the curtain on the world’s largest ecosystem restoration program reveals conflicts lurking in the shadows of Miami which threaten to derail the worlds largest ecosystem restoration project . Although so much of it seems suitable for a telenovela – the problems and pythons are a very real threat to our lifestyles and livelihoods. Can America’s Everglades survive a landscape of invasive snakes, politics and radical environmentalists?

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I See Dead People and So Can You!: An Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
by Tony Morales

This presentation will introduce forensic anthropology with a focus on biological profiling. We’ll talk methods, look at some gory images, and discuss the types of information that can be ascertained through analysis of the human skeleton. By the end of the presentation, attendees will each have had a chance to sex (yes, sex) dead people. Expect to leave feeling disgusted, amused, or both!

Best of @ PAMM

Nerd Nite Miami @ PAMM 2.2.17

“Best of Nerd Nite Miami”
A special event at the Perez Art Museum of Miami 

“Everything I Need To Know In Life I Learned From Sharks” by David Shiffman
Marine biologist and science writer David Shiffman shared a series of life lessons learned from his studies of shark behavior, ecology and conservation. He has seen or interacted with thousands of sharks of more than 50 species on five continents. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpYdBQy_GlU
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“Graphic Classes: Why Graphic Novels should be a Literature Teacher’s Best Friends” by Adam Schachner
From Batman to Bukowski, or from The Far Side to Foucault, graphic novels are amongthe most effective tools for teaching readership, analysis, and inference, but many veteran teachers and old-school curriculums dismiss them as just base “comic books”. There’s a case to be made for graphic narratives and their ability to expand minds, not limit interpretation or reduce the canon to childishness. Open your mind, read between the panels, and go get some graphic action!

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“Sex Underwater: A Slightly Inappropriate Musical Revue” by Gary Bremen
Sex has a purpose. Sex can be violent. Sex can be a solo experience. Sex can be kinky. The really cool, nerdy connection is that all of these are happening RIGHT NOW in the waters off Miami. Marine science educator Gary Bremen gave our audience a humorous (and maybe even inspirational) look at everyone’s favorite “hobby,” with a soundtrack to match.

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* Nerd Nite Miami XXV

Nerd Nite Miami XXV 11.10.16

“The Good Old Days: Growing Up On Biscayne Bay” by Captain Dan Kipnis

A history lesson leading up to the critical environmental problems that have recently surfaced to degrade the health of the Bay.

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“#BayDrift: Using nerds like you to find the solution to pollution.” by Laura Bracken Chaibongsai

Picture this – you’re enjoying a long walk on the beach, the sun is setting over the Miami skyline, warm breeze in your hair…. until you stumble upon a lone flip flop, a bottle, or maybe a diaper?!?! Gross! Where the hell did that come from?!?! With the help of citizen scientists, researchers are working to understand how ocean currents in Biscayne Bay are transporting trash and other pollutants. The #BayDrift study is a collaborative community research project led by CARTHE (research team based at University of Miami RSMAS), Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, and Frost Science. The nerds learned about our Bay and ocean currents, and how we are trying to solve the marine debris mysteries. Bonus: painting drift cards for the upcoming drift card release.

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“A Dredgeful Situation: PortMiami, corals, and the endangered species act.” by Rachel Silverstein

In a race to expand U.S. ports to accommodate larger, next-generation shipping vessels, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is targeting ports along the eastern seaboard for expansion and dredging. The Port of Miami was first on the list, where the shipping channel bisects a once-thriving coral reef and critical habitat for threatened staghorn corals. Our reefs have been smothered by sediment from the dredging but the Army Corps and its contractors have still not been held accountable for the damage. In response, Miami Waterkeeper, along with three other co-plaintiffs, filed a citizen suit in October 2014 to enforce legally-mandated protections for these imperiled corals through the Endangered Species Act.