Sept. 21 – Let’s Get CRITICAL!

nna2-2017-sept-shareableHello, Nerd Nite A2 Friends! Join us Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7 pm at LIVE on First St. for NNA2 #48!!

LET’S GET CRITICAL: The extreme effects of commentary from the worlds of architecture, online harassers, and Gilded Age shut-ins

Join us as architecture expert Jessica Letaw takes us on a tour of the landscape famed critic Ada Louise Huxtable built, or, well, influenced. U-M School of Information Ph.D. student Lindsay Blackwell returns to NNA2 to reveal new research on what happens when online critique goes bad – like, harassment-and-doxxing-bad. Finally, NNA2 co-boss (and pinch hitter) Sara Wedell will tell the surprisingly sweet story of our much-overlooked 21st president and his relationship with his greatest critic. It’s going to be a great night! Bring a friend, a sense of curiosity, and plenty of constructive feedback and join us as we GET CRITICAL!

Jessica A.S. Letaw – Architecture Throwing Shade
Jessica is a marketing consultant for architects and builders, a freelance writer and speaker on green building and diversity in architecture, and spends most of the rest of her time…talking about architecture and the built environment.  She is a board advisor for several Ann Arbor nonprofits, has led the AADL’s Building Matters Workshops conversation series for the past two years, runs the “Ann Arbor Architecture” and “Ann Arbor YIMBY” Facebook pages, and as of this summer can say that she has successfully organized an architecture scavenger hunt.  She lives in the Mighty Fifth Ward with her rescue hound, Henry, and enjoys reading, gardening, good conversations, and well-made White Russians. Follow her on Twitter @jasletaw.

Lindsay Blackwell – An Eye For An Eye: When Online Harassment is Perceived to be Justified
lindsay blackwell
Lindsay Blackwell is a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan School of Information’s Social Media Research Lab. Her research explores misbehavior in online communities, including trolling and online harassment. Prior to graduate school, Lindsay enjoyed a career in social media marketing, where she won several awards for her work with clients like I Love New York. You can follow Lindsay on Twitter (@linguangst) or by visiting

Sara Wedell – Arthurian Legend: The Story of Our 21st President
IMG_5431 1Sara Wedell is a Production Librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library and a Nerd Nite Ann Arbor co-boss. She is happy to fill in when speakers cancel last minute as it allows her an opportunity to tell strange stories from history that she finds compelling. If you don’t like it, please consider applying to speak at Nerd Nite A2! Don’t worry about following her on Twitter, she never posts anymore.

August 17: Cycling, Schizophrenia, Soaring: The Science of Mind and Body

Join us Thursday, August 17 at LIVE for another great NNA2, where we’ll feature:

  • Andrew McAllister – The Science of Cycling*
  • Molly Simmonite – Schizophrenia, Explained
  • Jennifer German* – Solar Ecplise 2017
  • Anne Ryan – Aerial Acrobatics @ The Aviary

Doors at 6:30, talks at 7, and no cover, thanks to our sponsor, the Ann Arbor District Library! See you there!

Note 8/16: Unfortunately, our cycling speaker had to cancel, but we are SUPER EXCITED to swap in Jennifer German, a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, who will be giving us all the lowdown on Monday’s Solar Ecplise

Donate! Vibrate! Refrigerate! The Scoop on Bone Marrow, Hysteria, and Ice Cream



July’s Nerd Nite A2 truly has it all, friends! Something serious, something sweet, and something sexy (but like… weird sexy.) Join us as Dawn Davis sets us straight on marrow – specifically, the experience of being a bone marrow donor. Kulky Nakai unveils the unexpectedly intimate history of hysteria and how doctors sought to treat this condition in females. Set your phones to vibrate, people, you don’t want to miss it. And for something sweet, ice cream innovator and entrepreneur Rob Hess of Go! Ice Cream breaks down the molecular magic for us all, and there might even be ice cream samples if everyone is very good and eats all their vegetables at dinner.

So! Be there, be square, and prepare for another great Nerd Nite Ann Arbor!

When: Thursday, July 20 – doors 6:30 pm/talks 7:00 pm
Where: LIVE (102 S 1st St)
How much: $0, Aw, thanks, AADL, you shouldn’t have!

Thursday, June 22: A Special Lightning-Round Nerd Nite at Top of the Park!

Join us at Ann Arbor Summer Fest’s Annex (on Washington) as some recent Nerd Nite audience faves return to the stage!

The lineup of talks includes: how being a scientist is different from studying science in high school, the insane world of romance subgenres, an examination of the concept of time (and how time is dumb), an international case of mistaken identity on Twitter, and a live performance of an episode of the excellent local history podcast Ann Arbor Stories.

Get there a little early, talks will start right at 7pm!

More details here

Mall Madness & Medical Mutations

nna2-2017-june-shareableIt’s thinking and drinking time again, my friends! Britain Woodman will be covering the Great Retail Space Race of Ann Arbor, recounting what has come, gone, and what will rise again. Laura Drislane will set the record straight on psychopaths – spoiler alert, what you’ve seen on TV is not a 100% accurate depiction of the condition. Long time NNA2 friend Brad Pingel will explain ways new antibiotics are disarming bacteria in a bid to undercut super-villainous superbugs.

It’s gonna be a great one, folks! Bring your friends, the overextended retail worker and the one you suspect of being a psychopath, leave your superbugs at home, and come enjoy another excellent Nerd Nite Ann Arbor!
When: Thursday, June 15 – doors 6:30pm/talks 7:00pm
Where: LIVE (102 S 1st St)
How much: $0, gee, thanks for sponsoring, AADL!

laura drislaneLaura Drislane – Psychopaths: Myths and Misconceptions
Media portrayals of psychopathic individuals are often sensationalized and inaccurate, leading to misconceptions about what this condition entails. This talk will cover what exactly a psychopath is (and is not), and the intersections between psychopathy and other phenomena, including psychosis and serial murder.
About Laura: Laura is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University in 2017. Her research interests include psychopathy, antisocial behavior, personality, and substance use. Outside of the lab, Laura can be found enjoying a craft beer at one of the local breweries or scouring the internet for the perfect canine companion. Check out @SSSpsychopathy or the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy.
britain woodmanBritain Woodman – Schemes From a Mall
I started a blog that is the talk of the town. By “the town,” I mean “my friends,” but I have a lot of friends in this town. I want to take a few minutes to discuss my influences, my past as a retail worker, and the interesting stuff I found when I went looking for a support group online. Please don’t leave, there’s still alcohol here.
About Britain: Britain Woodman grew up in Ann Arbor, moved away for a few years (for work), and came back at the beginning of this decade (also for work). He met (and hugged) two of the Last Poets at Rick’s, and the others are probably a little jealous. Check him out @Britain and learn about the A2 retail scene at
brad pingel

Brad Pingel – Pacifying Pathogens

While there is a myriad of different antibiotic agents available, almost every one of these agents falls into one of five modes of action. These mechanisms actively disrupt the growth of both helpful and harmful bacteria, facilitating a strong selection for mutations that can continually overcome our current roster of antibiotics. What if we could design antibiotics that only target the bad apples? Is it possible to slow down the evolution of resistance if we simply disable instead of destroy pathogenic bacteria? Can we clip the capes of the ever-growing population of superbugs?

About Brad: Brad is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan with a Masters in Microbiology and will be beginning his Ph.D at Balor College of Medicine in the fall. He is currently a researcher in the Schmidt lab at the University of Michigan and studies the interactions between bacteria and archaea in the human gut microbiome. Find him @bpingel31.

Genomes, Atoms, & Scientific Discovery

nna2-2017-April-shareableCalling all science geeks, nerds, dweebs, dorks, and goobers! For the second year running, Nerd Nite Ann Arbor is proud to partner with the Michigan State University Science Festival and RELATE to host a strictly-science evening.

On tap this year: RELATE alum Shweta Ramdas gives us the inside scoop on the kinds of information about our own genes can – and can’t – tell us about our health and ancestry. MSU’s own Zach Constan talks about how we study teeny tiny atoms – and why it matters for everything from your body’s function to nuclear science. Terry McGlynn will round us out by talking about when scientists make huge discoveries…by accident?! Going to be a great co-hosted edition of NNA2, so grab a buddy and a couple of brews, then head on down and join us for a science-tastic good time!

When: Thursday, April 20 – doors 6:30pm/talks 7:00pm
Where: LIVE (102 S 1st St)
How much: $0, thanks AADL!



Shweta Ramdas: “What your genome can 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.

About Shweta: I’m a 5th year PhD student in the department of Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. My research focuses on the genetic basis of psychiatric traits and aging.



Photos of NSCL at Michigan State University.Zach Constan: “A Supernova in the Lab: Nuclear Research at NSCL”

MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) is one of the world’s leading rare isotope research facilities. How do researchers study atomic nuclei that are too small to see, exist for less than a second, and can’t be found on Earth? Simply accelerate them to half the speed of light, smash them, and then study the pieces. The secrets we learn could help explain what happens in exploding stars and the origins of elements in your body. In addition, MSU has begun constructing the $730 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a DOE Office of Science project to design and establish a world-leading laboratory that will push the boundaries of nuclear science.

About Zach: Zach Constan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in physics (1995) from Albion College, studied psychoacoustics for his Ph.D. in physics (2002) at Michigan State University, taught college astronomy for three years, and served as a church Youth Director. Now, as NSCL Outreach Coordinator, he gets to tell everyone about the exciting developments in nuclear science at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and future Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.


terryTerry McGlynn: “Unknown Unknowns, and how we make scientific discoveries”

Scientists do research to answer specific questions, but many of our biggest discoveries come out of the blue? How can scientists do research to make big discoveries when we don’t see them coming?

About Terry: Terry is a tropical biologist who does research to solve the biological mysteries involving ants and rainforests. He is a professor of biology at California State University Dominguez Hills and a research associate of the Natural History Museum of LA.

Tests, Transition, & Time: How to save lives, energy, and daylight


Ah, Nerd Nite! A time for nerds of all kinds to come together and talk of many things.This time around, we’re talking about what medical diagnostic tests can (and cannot) tell us, sustainable living in a solar-powered house made of straw, and how time is dumb – we’re looking at you, Daylight Saving Time!

Testing, testing! NNA2 alum and PhD/MD student Carl Engelke is here to talk about medical testing – the how, the why, and the reality of what some of these common screening exams can and can’t tell us. Science!

Hay is for houses! Professor, designer, and farmer Joe Trumpey built his house out of straw and field rocks and determination and ingenuity, and he’s here to tell you the practical side of transitioning to an off-the-grid, sustainable lifestyle.

(H)our third speaker is engineer Matt Carpenter – he’ll take a moment to explain the stories behind leap years and the agony and ecstasy that is falling back and springing forward with Daylight Saving Time.

So text the friend you’ve been meaning to hang out with and come see us for Tests, Transition, & Time: How to save lives, energy, and daylight at LIVE on First St, Thursday, 3/23, doors at 6:30 pm.


Medical tests: a sensitive and specific subject
Navigating the increasingly complex world of medical tests can be difficult, even for those who have spent years training in health care. When should certain tests be ordered? How can they be reasonably interpreted? What makes a test good or bad? The extent to which there is gray area in this field has been hinted at by recent articles in popular media about controversies surrounding cancer screening tests like the mammogram or prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Together, we will explore some fundamental principals of evidence-based medicine in order to begin answering these questions.

About Carl: Carl had many, varied interests throughout the years, and he still sometimes wonders what he wants to do when (if) he grows up. He studied trumpet performance in college at Indiana University and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Currently, as a completely logical next step, he is an MD/PhD student at the University of Michigan Medical School, where he studies how next-generation interrogation of the molecular landscape of prostate cancer can lead to better diagnostic and prognostic tools.

trumpey.headshotTracking Your Electrons
I have practiced doing sustainable stuff for more than 25 years – and am still practicing to get it right. We live off the grid in a strawbale house in Grass Lake and grow about 60% of our food. Life off the grid in Michigan can be challenging during our short, cloud covered winter days. I will share some technical and behavioral details of life off the grid – where it is necessary to track your use of electrons each and every day.

About Joe: Joe Trumpey is a Farmer, Transition Designer, Science Illustrator and Educator. As an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, he holds appointments at the Stamps School of Art & Design, Program in the Environment, and School of Natural Resources and Environment. He directs the University’s Sustainable Living Experience. As a freelance illustrator, he founded and directs, Michigan Science Art, one of North America’s largest groups of science illustrators. He is the recipient of the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Teaching Award and has been a TedX Speaker.  He and his family live off the grid in a strawbale home he designed and built in Grass Lake, Michigan. There they farm a variety of heritage breed livestock and grow more than half their food. He was named the 2015 Homesteader of the year by Mother Earth News Magazine.

A Brief Analysis of Time2017-03-07 13.13.55
Many of us live our lives in the moment. Some live theirs day by day. Regardless, we all live within the constraints of time. We understand days and years are caused by the earth spinning on its axis and orbiting around the sun. But what about seconds, hours, and months. And what the heck is a leap year, anyway!?  … “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.” – Billy Joe

About Matt: Matt is a Michigan Engineering alum who, just like Jim Harbaugh, spent a few years working on the West Coast before giving in to the irresistible pull to return to Ann Arbor. He is now left wondering where all the time went. And for that matter, what time is.

Red Light Romance: A Very Nerdy Valentine – Thursday, 2/16

It’s Nerd Nite time again, Ann Arbor friends! We have an exceptional lineup of Valentine’s Day-adjacent topics presented by a lovely assortment of local nerds that we are delighted to be bringing to the LIVE stage on Thursday, 2/16.
Romance novelist Celia Mulder will lead a ridiculous romp through the world of romance novel subgenres – from time-traveling Vikings to firefighting cowboys to shapeshifting were-creatures – and so much more.

Rich Retyi and Brian Peters, the beer-drinking, local history-loving duo behind the Ann Arbor Stories podcast, will bring the story of Ann Arbor’s seedy underbelly to (red) light.

Physicist Brian Worthmann says pink is bulls&%# and he’ll give a whole spectrum of reasons why in this colorful talk.
So bring someone you love, like, or love to hate, and join us for Red Light Romance: A Very Nerdy Valentine at LIVE on First St, Thursday, 2/16, doors at 6:30 pm.

Time Traveling Vikings: Or, the many layered subgenres of romance novels
Within the romance genre there are dozens of subgenres, some well known, some very unknown. Most people can name a few – contemporary, historical, or paranormal for example. Some people have even heard of Amish romance, westerns, or highlanders. This talk isn’t about any of those. It’s about the subgenres that almost no one’s heard of, the time traveling viking romances that we never knew we were missing.
About Celia Mulder: She is a first year Master student at the University of Michigan School of Information. She happens to be a huge romance fan but she honestly can’t tell you what her favorite book is, there are just too many. In addition to reading the smutty stuff, she writes it too. Her first book comes out this October.

Rich and BrianProstitutes, Politicians and Pornography: The History of Ann Arbor’s Red Light District
There was a time in Ann Arbor’s history when the Fourth Avenue area of downtown was known as the red light district. Lined with prostitutes, adult bookstores and massage parlors, Ann Arbor’s red light district was presided over by the Pied Piper of Porn, Terry Whitman Shoultes. Take a trip into the seedy underbelly of Ann Arbor’s dirty past.
About Rich Retyi and Brian Peters: These gents produce Ann Arbor Stories, a podcast featuring stories from Ann Arbor’s distant and not so distant past. Rich runs digital and social media strategy for the University of Michigan hospitals and enjoys writing, playing with his kids, and Friday beers. Brian is the Operating Officer for Ghostly International, a multi-platform cultural curator and record label, as well as co-owner of local indie label, Quite Scientific; he enjoys fishing, camping, mustard, and surprise surprise – Friday beers.

Pink iNNA2_Feb2017_Worthmanns Bullshit
The question is – which ‘Pink’ am I referring to? Perhaps this talk will be about gendered color-coding of children’s toys. Or maybe it’ll be about breast cancer awareness. Perhaps it’ll be about Victoria’s Secret’s advertising campaign for college-aged women. Or maybe the Grammy-award-winning pop singer from the early 2000s. Or perhaps it’ll be about all the overdose deaths associated with the powerful synthetic opioid eight times stronger than heroin. But as you might have guessed – this talk will be about none of these things!
About Brian: Brian is a fourth-year Applied Physics PhD student at UM, and a third-time presenter at NNA2. While not busy preparing for a Nerd Nite talk, he can be found teaching a class at OLLI, giving conference talks, traveling the world, and, on rare occasions, actually doing the research he’s paid to do.

The Next Nerd Nite will be Thursday, February 16

Stay tuned for more details, but we’re excited to hear why Pink is Bullshit, a little more about Ann Arbor Stories, and even a little bit of (ridiculous) romance!

Packing a PUNch, Making Light, & Fake News

…AND nna2-2017-jan-shareableWE’RE BACK!
It’s the new year and we’ve got an all new line up of speakers ready to let their nerd light shine. First up is Reema Abi-Akar, who knows there’s nothing new under the pun, but has some quip-witted repartee on everyone’s (dad’s) favorite kind of wordplay. Andrew McAllister, he studies applied physics, he works on a super computer, and he predicts a glorious and well-lit future in which super-efficient LED bulbs are also super-affordable. Newshound Jim McBee of The Ann magazine is here to talk about those phony news stories your uncle keeps sharing on Facebook, and how to separate the credible from the incredible.
It’s going to be illuminating in more ways than pun one!
When: Thursday, January 19, 2017, doors at 6:30 pm, talks at 7 pm!
Where: LIVE, 102 S First St, Ann Arbor
NO COVER, thanks to your friendly neighborhood AADL!


HeadshotReema Abi-Akar: The Rogue Pun: More than just quip-witted repartee

Puns abound in society, whether we realize it or not. In this pun-apologetic analysis of wordplay, discover the linguistic and social history of puns. Learn how to identify different types of puns, their place in the linguistic structure, and why they are true language anarchists.

About Reema: Reema is a master’s student at Michigan studying Natural Resources and Environment. She is an avid punster and knows the names of all the US presidents in order because history is important. In her spare time, she researches adorable baby animals online. Find her on twitter at @ReemaAbiAkar

20140816_201124(2)_2Andrew McAllister: LED Light Bulbs: Why do they cost an arm and a leg?

The light sources of the future will be LED bulbs. They are efficient, last a long time, and some can even change colors on the fly. But why are they so expensive? Come learn about what LEDs are, why they are so important, and some of the ways we’re trying to make LED lighting affordable for everyone.

About Andrew: Andrew is a first-year in the Applied Physics program at the University of Michigan. He studies the many materials that we use to interact with light, and is interested in ways these materials become inefficient when we push them to extremes. He does all of his research using supercomputers, so instead of wearing a lab coat and glasses, he sit in front of a big computer monitor all day. When he’s not doing that, you’ll most likely find him wearing spandex (on a bike), playing board games, or ogling books at Literati.

mcbee mugJim McBee: What’s up with all this fake news, anyway?

All of a sudden, we seem to be deluged in completely made up phony stuff masquerading as credible news. How bad is it really, where does it come from and what should we do about it?

About Jim: Jim is a co-founder and creative director for The Ann magazine in Ann Arbor. He’s a lifelong newspaper gypsy. Find him and The Ann on twitter