Nerd Nite #47

Nerd Nite #47 is happening at WURST on October 17th:

When: Thursday, October 17, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – tickets

This is an 18+ event.


Presentation # 1:

Chernobyl, Zombie Apocalypse, & Climate Armageddon: the role of Public Health in prevention & mitigation.

Franco A. Rizzuti BSc MD, Senior Public Health & Preventive Medicine Resident Physician | University of Calgary/ AHS-Calgary Zone; President, Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA)

Exploring emergency & disaster management using 3 known case studies, with a public health & preventive medicine twist.


Dr. Franco Rizzuti is a senior resident physician in Public Health & Preventive Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services-Calgary Zone. He’s also the President for the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA). Since 2010 Franco has held various leadership and board roles within the university, medical education, and healthcare/health systems. He has a keen interest in emergency disaster management, population informatics & health system transformation, including recent work in revising AHS’s communicable disease emergency response plan.

Presentation # 2:

Starting from the Bottom: The World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Stephanie Coward, PhD

Come on a journey—from gum to bum—through the world of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

SCoward image 2


Stephanie has spent both her MSc and PhD exploring the epidemiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Canada. The focus of her research extends from defining the current Canadian burden (i.e., diagnoses, hospitalizations, and medication use) of IBD and working to forecast the burden into the future—without the use of a crystal ball.

Presentation # 3:

This nerd will blow your nerdy mind!

Nerd Night #46 – Season Opener!

Nerd Nite #46 is happening at WURST on September 19th:

When: Thursday, September 19, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – tickets

This is an 18+ event.


Presentation # 1:

Do you really know where you are?

Martin Pratt, Director, Bordermap Consulting

In the age of GPS and Google Earth, it may come as a surprise that the alignment of many international boundaries remains uncertain. This talk will explore the challenges of locating positions on a lumpy planet and highlight some of the geopolitical consequences of imperfect mapmaking.


Martin is a geographer, cartographer and map nerd. He works with governments around the world to resolve territorial disputes and establish clearly-defined and well-managed international boundaries.

Presentation # 2:

Consonance and Dissonance: A Brief Look at the Overtone Series and Math in Music. AKA Why stuff sounds good

Blake Doucet-Lewis

Sounds in Music can be wonderful one moment and gut-wrenching painful the next, but what makes sounds good or bad?

Blake (1)
Blake has been teaching, composing, and performing music for over 15 years. His area of speciality is in piano, violin, composition, and theory with an interest in fusing medieval and renaissance sounds with more modern harmonies.

Presentation # 3:

Arrow’s Theorem, or why we won’t ever have a good election system

Joel Reardon, Assistant Professor, University of Calgary

Elections with more than two candidates always produce weird strategic voting; it turns out this can never be fixed. We’ll see why.


I am a computer science professor who primarily researches security and privacy issues related to mobile devices.
See you all there!

Nerd Night #45 – Season Finale!

Nerd Nite #45 is happening at WURST on June 20:

When: Thursday, June 20, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – join waitlist (SOLD OUT)

This is an 18+ event.


Presentation # 1:

Is gluten causing a celiac disease epidemic?

James King, MSc Student in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary

‘Gluten’ is perhaps the dietary buzzword of this decade, as there have been many advocates in the media claiming its modern properties are toxic to humans. Congruently, the rate at which celiac disease is being diagnosed has been dramatically increasing over the last several decades. With a gluten-free diet as the sole treatment for celiac disease, is there justification for the hype around ‘toxic’ gluten?

King_James_ProfileJames King is a master’s student specializing in epidemiology at the University of Calgary. During his undergraduate degree, James was diagnosed with celiac disease – since then, he’s dedicated his educational training to studying the condition from a public health perspective. His research aims are to better understand global trends in celiac disease epidemiology, identify factors causing the condition to occur, and develop ways to improve disease treatment.

Presentation # 2:

Reconstructing Ancient Forests and Climate using Data Buried Underground

Andria Dawson, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics, Department of General Education, Mount Royal University

This talk will describe how scientists use data buried underground to learn about the history of forests and climate on Earth, and how this information helps us understand future Earth system changes.

Andria Dawson is an Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Mount Royal University whose research is in the field broadly described as mathematical ecology. More specifically, she uses quantitative methods, and ecological data, to address questions about how the Earth’s forests and climate change through time and across space. She enjoys teaching both mathematics and science, and challenging students to think critically.

Presentation # 3:

When Software Goes Wrong

Clarissa Peterson, User experience designer & tech educator

The unofficial motto of Silicon Valley is “move fast and break things”; they should have moved a bit slower, because a lot of things are broken, and not in a good way. Learn about some of the surprising ways that software can turn on you.


Clarissa Peterson is a user experience strategist and writer who focuses on creating purposeful online content and designing websites and software with empathy. She is the author of Learning Responsive Web Design (O’Reilly Media). Clarissa also creates online courses for LinkedIn Learning ( and speaks at design and tech conferences around the world.

Game of Thrones viewing with special guest David J. Peterson

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you have probably heard the phrase ‘valar morghulis’ or ‘dracarys’. These are invented words that did not exist before Game of Thrones.  Have you ever wondered how those languages came to be, how ‘real’ they are or who is behind them?   Well wait no longer, Nerd Nite Calgary is very excited to be bringing in David J. Peterson, the inventor of all of the languages used on Game of Thrones. David will be giving a presentation on language creation with a focus on Game of Thrones.  David has also created languages for Emerald City, Defiance, Into The Badlands, The 100, Doctor Strange, Bright, Thor: The Dark WorldThe Christmas Chronicles and will be working on the upcoming Dune movie to just name a few.  

Join us Sunday before the Game of Thrones viewing party at Wurst for David’s presentation with a Q&A afterwards.  Then stay to watch Game of Thrones afterwards.

When: Sunday, May 12, 2019 (Presentation at 5:15, Arrive at 5pm)
Where: Wurst
Tickets: FREE (SOLD OUT – Waitlist)
This is an 18+ event.


Nerd Night #44

Nerd Nite #44 is happening at WURST on May 16:

When: Thursday, May 16, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – available on Eventbrite (on sale Tues. April 23, 6 PM)

This is an 18+ event.


Presentation # 1:

The War on the War on Sitting

Naomi Dolgoy, M.OT, PhD(c)

There has been considerable criticism of sitting – sitting has been compared to smoking, described as lazy, weak and unhealthy, and most recently, an aggressive militant media campaign titled “The War on Sitting” was launched against the posture; let’s explore this sitty situation: is it time to take a stand on taking a seat?



Naomi Dolgoy is an occupational therapist and clinical researcher based in Calgary.


Presentation # 2:

Inside the caves formed of fire and ice

Christian StennerCD, FRCGS. Alberta Speleological Society and Glacier Cave Explorers.

Active volcanoes, glaciers, and caves. Extremophile bacteria. Breathing apparatus made for military special forces. An ice climbing robot with a big red kill switch. Find out how these things all tied together during the exploration of caves carved through glacial ice by volcanic gas & steam. Learn about this unique frontier of exploration that is contributing to the knowledge of the inner workings of a “decade volcano” that could impact millions of lives and at the same time is helping guide the search for life on other planets.


Stenner_Chritian_profileChristian Stenner has been a caver for fifteen years, partaking in expeditions to explore and survey cave systems in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.  During that time he has contributed to the Bisaro Caves project – the deepest cave in Canada, and the exploration of the world’s largest network of volcanic steam caves.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Explorers Club, the society dedicated to human exploration of land, sea, air, and space.  He also runs ultramarathons slowly.


Presentation # 3:

Design considerations for maximizing the quality of life in a large space settlement

Bryan Versteeg, Conceptual Design Artist for Space Exploration and Settlement. Gallery of work at

Living away from Earth will be difficult and dangerous. But, could it be fun? Understanding the similarities between diverse societies and their ideas about the quality of life can give us a blueprint for the design of large communities living in space. What would we bring with us to ensure our happiness?


Bryan Versteeg has spent decades working with architects, engineers, scientists, and researchers to design and visualize our potential in the building, infrastructure, residential, and exploration fields. His work is used internationally in documentaries, scientific publications and by exploration advocates in the space industry and settlement community

Nerd Nite #43 – SOLD OUT

Nerd Nite #43 is happening at WURST on April 18:

When: Thursday, April 18, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00 pm, talks start at 7:00 pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – SOLD OUT (waitlist available on Eventbrite)

This is an 18+ event.

***TO ALL ATTENDEES: One of the presenters would like you to fill out this survey ( before his presentation. Please fill it out when you can to test your perceptions of current world issues!***


Presentation # 1:

Booze, Broads & Brothels

Kimberly A. Williams, Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, Mount Royal University

Notorious as the booze, brothel, and gambling capital of the Canadian West, early Calgary was home to dozens of entrepreneurial sex workers. This talk will introduce you to a few of these dynamic women, whose clients were the miners, ranchers, NWMP officers, and CPR railmen commonly known as the “mavericks” of Alberta’s pioneering past.

Dr. Williams has given us permission to tell you that she’s a “Nasty Woman” and a “Feminist Killjoy, and that she mobilizes both identities to commit a wide array of queer feminist misdeeds, among which is her current research of Calgary’s consensual adult sex industry. She earned her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland and now directs the Women’s & Gender Studies Program at MRU. Off-campus, Kim belongs to Cricket, a mini-mystery mutt, with whom she plays agility and explores Calgary’s awesome green spaces.


Presentation # 2:

Feelings versus Facts – a Homo sapiens conundrum

Raphael Wust, PhD, PGeo; Senior Technical Advisor AGAT Laboratories; Adjunct Assistant Prof at U of C and James Cook University

In our western society, we have easy access to large data and information; what people call AI and Big Data. However, the majority of us – educated or not – are following feelings rather than numbers when it comes to understanding life on our planet. In this presentation, we will go through a series of perceived “facts” and identify how well they are understood and accepted. We will dwell into well-known data of human health and evolution as well as paleoclimate records to inspire nerdy thinking and encourage people to take numbers and data more seriously. Reasons for relying on feelings rather than facts are also discussed looking into our ancestors’ fears and position within the food chain.


Wust_Raphael_profileRaphael Wust (PhD, PGeo) is a Technical Advisor at AGAT Laboratories in Calgary. In his previous career as geologists, he performed research in Oman, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, and investigated past and current climate events resulting in over 55 scientific papers. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Marine Geology/Sedimentology at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Geoscience Department of the University of Calgary. His personal interests are embracing nature and enjoy life looking through the glasses of our ancestors and not make the same mistake!


Presentation # 3:

Extreme Space Weather: The good, the bad, and the ugly…

Dr. Ian R. Mann, Professor, Department of Physics, University of Alberta

What is space weather and how could it affect me? From the majestic northern lights to electric power grid damage, and United Nations efforts to mitigate future impacts of severe space storms.



Dr. Mann does research in space physics and space weather in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency. He’s both the PI of the CARISMA magnetometer network and the founding Principal Co-Director of the University of Alberta Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology (ISSET). He’s a Co-Investigator on the NASA THEMIS and NASA Van Allen Probes missions, was the lead for the Ex-Alta-1 cube satellite (the first ever made-in-Alberta satellite launched from the International Space Station in May 2017), and is active in space outreach as PI of the Aurora Watch program. He was named as one of Canada’s Top-40-under-40 in 2009 and currently serves as the Chairman and Rapporteur of the expert group on space weather at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).



Nerd Nite #42* – SOLD OUT

Our next event, Nerd Nite #42 is happening at WURST on March 21:

When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees – SOLD OUT (waitlist available on Eventbrite)

This is an 18+ event.

City Fibre as a Sensor
Rob Ferguson, PhD, P. Geoph, Principal Investigator, City Fibre as a Sensor (CFaaS)
Associate Professor of Geophysics, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary

The re-purposing of an oilfield technology called Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) allows us to visualized all natural and anthropomorphic motion at street level. Designed monitor the sound of gasses leaking from pipelines, DAS is simply a high-stability laser plus photo-detector attached to one end of a fibre optic line wrapped around pipe. Leaks hiss, and the hiss stresses the fibre and reveals the position of leak. In 2017, we connected a DAS unit to a City of Calgary telecom fibre that follows the LRT, and voila! we can see the position, heading, speed and acceleration of all of the LRT trains as well as all the cars on the road nearby. We even tracked ELA during the recent autonomous vehicle trial in Calgary. In that moment, our we founded City Fibre as a Sensor (CFaaS) on the idea that we adapt earth-science practices like geophysics to solve urban problems on a scale that is city wide. One of these problems is how to manage traffic and transit. GPS and microwave triangulation are much less accurate and reliable than we might think – have someone view your Map app as you drive and watch it jump around and we see DAS as a high accuracy alternative that never drops out. Right now, we are developing an app that gives the position, heading, speed and acceleration for all LRT trains in Calgary no GPS dropouts! Our DAS app will soon give LRT operators train arrival times to the nearest second! For cars, DAS will inform variable speed limits that minimize traveltime, maximize fuel efficiency and help to prevent accidents. For the environment, can we see a pothole form? Is global warming wakening our bridges? Also, we know how fast you are driving – should we mail a ticket you your house every time you exceed the speed limit?

Alternative and Augmentative Communication Systems
Margaux Keith,
Registered Speech-Language Pathologist


Margaux is a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist who works primarily in the area of Alternative/Augmentative Communication Systems with children with complex needs.   She work with children between the ages of 2 1/2 all the way up to 18.  The majority of the children that she works with have significant disabilities related to a variety of developmental or acquired diagnoses (e.g. Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Brain Injury), and are not able to communicate using verbal speech.  Solutions range from paper books, to touch-access ipads, to use of head switches, eye gaze, and more.  Her role is to support matching the child’s language needs to the right system, and to provide intervention that will help them to become autonomous communicators.

Fitting in and Standing out at Work
Dr Derek Chapman,
Associate Professor, Industrial & Organizational Psychology, University of Calgary

We all want to belong. Figuring out how we accomplish that has been the subject of my research at the U of C over the past 15 years.   I will present some highlights and insights into person-organization fit and the antecedents and effects of fitting in at work.

Nerd Nite #41 Neon! – SOLD OUT

Our February event, Nerd Nite #41 – Neon, is happening at WURST:

When: Thursday, February 21, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees, SOLD OUT

This is an 18+ event.

Fun in the Produce Aisle: Bringing Big Food Marketing to Unprocessed Foods
Christine Elliot, PhD, Professor of Communication at the University of Calgary,
Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy, and Children’s Heath
Dr. Charlene Elliot

Dr. Charlene Elliot

Charlene Elliott has spent the last 15 years studying the marketing of processed foods to children, analyzing their (generally poor) nutritional quality, symbolic appeals and impact on children’s preferences and dietary habits. We know that marketing unhealthy foods to children is bad: indeed,  protecting children from the negative impact of such marketing is the premise of Bill S-228 (The Child Health Protection Act), which is currently under consideration in the Senate. But what about marketing healthy food to children? Marketing produce to children has become increasingly popular over the past decade, largely due to childhood obesity and the public health community’s push to “fight back” against the promotion of poorly nutritious foods. Part of this strategy is to apply Big Food marketing tactics to unprocessed foods, using character licensing and also ‘junk food’ appeals to make fruits and vegetables more desirable. While promoting healthy eating to children is a good thing, intriguing questions arise from the marketing strategies. Is it, in fact, ok to “Sell out” for fruits and vegetables as the FNV initiative commands? Do we really need Disney’s Belle to make kids eat bananas? What kind of child does this marketing imagine, and what kind of food literacy does this approach sell?  In this talk, I map the marketing produce to children according to three dominant techniques, and critically assess the implications of these ‘fun’ promotional strategies when it comes to children’s health, identity, and taste.

Pseudoislets: An Engineering Approach to Type 1 Diabetes
Yang Yu, Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, University of Calgary
Derek Toms, Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary


Dr Yang Yu and Derek Toms


What would you do if you had the power to break down biological matter, and reform it in a better way? In our talk, we will be exploring a novel approach of re-engineering cellular structures in the human body, and the impact this approach has on treatment for Type 1 Diabetes.

Have you ever wondered what sort of person actually wants to go to Mars? Stop wondering, and come find out!

Why Go to Mars?
Zac Trolley, Calgarian
Mr. Zac Trolley

Mr. Zac Trolley

Zac Trolley is a Calgarian that has set his sights on Mars. He has had a fascination with the Red Planet since he was a kid, and is taking steps to figure out for himself how to survive on Mars. In 2018 he spent 2 weeks in a Martian analog mission designed to teach people what it’s like to live and work on Mars. The Mars Desert Research Station is a remote outpost in the Utah dessert that has graduated hundreds of Martian analog astronauts, Zac among them. He will be speaking about his experience, why he choose Mars, and what the realities of living on Mars are.

Nerd Nite Calgary #40 – SOLD OUT

Come start the new year with a beer! And of course a side cup of knowledge…

When: Thursday, January 17, 2019 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: $10 plus fees, SOLD OUT – Waitlist is  online here

This is an 18+ event.

Sweet Leaf or Reefer Madness: is cannabis pain medicine?
Lori Montgomery, Clinical Associate Professor, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Lori Montgomery

Lori Montgomery

Most people have a strong feeling about cannabis one way or the other — but what does the science tell us about its use as a pain medication? We’ll take a quick tour of the literature and try to find our way through the haze of claims for cannabis as a cure-all or the source of all evil.

Malled: Deciphering Shopping in Canada
Kit Dobson, Associate Professor Department of English, Languages, and Cultures, Mount Royal University

DSC_0072                                           Kit Dobson

Generally Kit Dobson hates malls. But he is fascinated by them, by their place in our society, by how we interact with them and how they end up in our books, movies and art. Over the last five-plus years, Kit has traveled across Canada’s malls and shopping spaces in order to try and understand them and the cultures that they help to create. From Chinook Centre in Calgary to the underground malls of Montreal and even up to the famous Walmart in Whitehorse, he looks at our culture of consumerism, and how malls are both shaped by their location and shape the cultures around them.

Extreme pregnancy: A case report of a pregnant native highlander trekking to Everest Base Camp (5300m)
Trevor Day, Associate Professor of Physiology, Mount Royal University

Photo Credit: Ken Imrie of Glass Beach Studios

Photo Credit: Ken Imrie of Glass Beach Studios

Over 40,000 people per year trek to Everest base camp (EBC), located at 5300m above sea level in the Nepal Himalaya range, home to some of the biggest mountain in the world. Ascending to high altitude is a profound stressor for native lowlanders due to reductions in available oxygen, leading to risk of acute mountain sickness. Native highlanders have evolved many physiological mechanisms to allow them to live, work and reproduce at altitudes that would be dangerous for lowlanders. In 2016, Dr. Day organized an expedition to EBC, where one of their Sherpa Guides was seven months pregnant. This pregnant guide ascended from 3400m, higher than most mountains around Canmore/Banff, to 5300m, where there is half the oxygen of sea level. On average during ascent, she performed ~5 hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, while the recommendations of pregnant lowlanders is half of that per week! This remarkable demonstration of the superimposition of native highlander physiology, high altitude physiology, pregnancy physiology and exercise pushes the boundaries of what we know is humanly possible!

Nerd Nite Calgary #39 – Carbon – SOLD OUT

Come join us for the last Nerd Nite of 2018!

When: Thursday, November 15, 2018 (Doors open at 6:00pm, talks start at 7:00pm)
Where: WURST (2437 4 St SW)
Tickets: SOLD OUT,  waitlist here

This is an 18+ event.


Why Us?! Backlash against Public Health Advertising Targeting Minorities

LeahLeah Hamilton, Associate Professor of Management and Human Resources, Mount Royal University

MohammedMohammed El Hazzouri, Associate Professor of Marketing, Mount Royal University

Public Health agencies often feature minority models in their advertising in an effort to persuade the featured minority groups to take on the health behaviors promoted by the advertisements. For many years, health communications experts assumed that these targeted methods were always effective. In our research, we show that this practice can create a backlash effect where minorities feel negatively stereotyped by such advertising. In our talk, we will present the results of four studies documenting this backlash effect. We will also discuss the directions of our future research on the topic.


“Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?”
Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale
Joel Reardon, University of Calgary

What’s happening behind the scenes when we run an app. It turns out a great number of ads and analytics companies are given access to sensitive data and frequently the only restraint is the technical limitations of the device itself. We build an automated system to run android apps and observe how they process and exfiltrate user data. We focus on a subset of children’s games in particular and find many potential violations of the U.S.’s COPPA law.