5th Annual Neuroscience Graduate Program Awards Ceremony

by Erica Akhter
photos by Amielle Moreno

Spurred by good ol’ program spirit and the promise of free booze, Emory’s finest showed up dressed to the nines for the 2017 Neuroscience Awards Ceremony.


Leadership Award
Chris Sinon
SinonWinShot 2
GIN ex-president Chris Sinon has enthusiastically served the Emory Neuroscience community in almost every capacity imaginable. Aside from fearlessly hosting recruitment parties and successfully campaigning to increase the GIN budget in dicey economic times, Chris has continually worked behind the scenes to organize, support and rally the program to both improve our community and expand our connections with other programs in Laney and beyond.

University Service Award
Elyse Morin

Morin_win_2017Elyse Morin has excelled in service both within and outside of the scientific community. Elyse has taken an active role in science advocacy, meeting with GA representatives and joining her advisor, Mar Sanchez, to speak to the House Committee on Appropriations in DC. In addition, she has served as senior coordinator for the Emory RespectCon, led workshops bringing together Atlanta resources for rape survivors and spent more than 1,700 hours on call for the Rape Crisis Center.

Outreach Award
Desiree De Leon

DesireeWinShotThough her outreach efforts may sometimes put her in hot water with advisors Larry Young and Mar Sanchez, Desiree has made a huge impact on the community. As the graduate representative for the Atlanta Chapter of SfN, Desiree has built a multi-university outreach empire, growing outreach efforts by nearly 1,000 students while serving as chair of the Atlanta Brain Bee and coordinator of Brain Awareness month and the ATL Science Festival Booth.

Outstanding Early Achievement Award
Andrea Pack

Pack_win_2017Andrea Pack had the honor of being the sole nominee for this award. When you view her CV it’s not hard to see why. In her two years at Emory, Andrea has been placed on two training grants, received an NSF graduate research fellowship, presented at two international conferences and is currently preparing a first author manuscript. In addition, she is extremely active in scientific outreach, pioneering her own course to teach science within a local prison.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award
Elizabeth Pitts

Pitts and profElizabeth Pitts has presented at too many conferences to count and is an author on eight publications, including first authorship on a paper in Neuropsychopharmacology and a review in Neurobiology of Disease. While spanning two distinct model systems and actively teaching, Liz has remained active in the program and received multiple awards for her research, including the prestigious honor of presenting to prospective students during the Emory recruitment process.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Arielle Valdez

ArielleWinShotArielle Valdez has served as a teaching assistant for a variety of rigorous courses on a variety of topics: everything from human anatomy to the ethics of vegetarianism. Arielle has reached students far beyond the neuroscience realm in which most of us live. In each course she’s taught, both her instructors and students have recognized her excellence, so much so that she was awarded the GDBBS-wide TATTO Teaching award. Despite already hitting this ceiling of recognition, she plans to continue broadening her teaching experiences.

Excellence in Mentorship Award
Elizabeth Pitts

Pitts Acceptance1Liz Pitt’s excellence in mentorship is reflected through both the quality and quantity of her students. Liz directly mentored eight undergraduates while at Emory, guiding them through in depth, long-term research projects. Her students have graduated with highest honors and – even more remarkably – a literature based understanding of their field and the ability to think critically about it. Some might say that thanks to Liz, they’re now positioned to have their own outstanding scientific achievements.

GIN Faculty of the Year
Shannon Gourley

GourelyWinShotDr. Shannon Gourley, pictured here with her Elizabeth’s, was selected from a sea of wonderful mentors because of her passion and dedication for her students. Perhaps best said by one of the Elizabeth’s themselves,  “Her altruistic and well-organized use of her time” and “dedication to her students’ and colleagues’ success” make her an exemplary representative of what makes Emory neuroscience a wonderful place.

GIN Student Service Award
Byron Gardner

Byron Acceptance3Byron Gardner continually attends, assists, and invigorates GIN events. He is always willing to use his creative energies for the betterment of the program and he stands out in his ability to make prospective students want to join in the fun. Ironically he could not attend this ceremony, but his efforts to go above and beyond at almost everything else make him more than deserving of the award anyway.

 

 

2015 GDBBS Banquet Fashion Spread

By Amielle Moreno

2015 GDBBS Interior Panoramic – Version 2

On a rainy Thursday night, the brightest things in Atlanta were the women and men of Emory’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. I plucked the prettiest flowers from the bunch for this article to honor their stylishness.

Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute

The solid purple dress took center stage this year with multiple ladies donning this trending color. With many ways to wear it, this color is flattering on everyone, but who do you think wore it best?

Josh Lewis from BCDB
Josh Lewis from BCDB
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
R to L: Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date
Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date

In man’s fashion, the surest way to stand out in the sea of polo shirted lazy-lads, was easy: sports jacket and tie. Josh Lewis’ mix of jacket and plaid skinny tie set him apart from the crowd. Look out Chris Hardwick! Unfortunately, some people think fashion ends after your pants, such as Marko, who looked like the whole package until you notice his shoes. When asked about his ensemble he responded “#Marko #swag #swagco #yolo #yololifeforever #ijustputiton.” But Anzar Abbas gets extra flair points for his light brown tips. And yes, Gary Longstreet, people are going to think you’re a server if you dress in all black. “Black’s my favorite color,” he responded with aplomb.

Gina Lenzi  Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Gina Lenzi Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis

The LBD is a fashion staple but Gina’s lacy number will stand the test of time. It’s versatile with long sleeves which keep it in rotation from fall to late winter. Meanwhile, Madeline pulled this little number out of the closet after getting into shape. Can you think of anything more rewarding than slipping into that dress after months of working out? Her classic pumps make her ready for any formal event, but one might say that her accessories are lacking while Gina’s gold accessories take her ensemble over the top.Who wore black better: Gina, Madeline or Gary?

Version 3

Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh

And then there were the red mavens. Rachel  not only had hands and toes in theme with her red dress from Paris, her glass slippers “make [her] feel like she can twinkle float.” Dr. Neigh gets a chance to wear this beautiful gown for the second time. I was shocked that it was an Ann Taylor because I’ve never seen anything this bright. That dress, much like these two ladies, stand out from the crowd when everybody else is wearing tan. Thanks for the photo bomb, Gary.

Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience

Both of these Neuroscience gentlemen received their neuron accessories, from their significant others. Lukas’s purple tie is from Bow-Tie For a Cause with all the profits from this gift benefiting Alzheimer’s research.

Julia Omotade from BCDB
Oh MY, Omotade! Julia Omotade from BCDB wins the best dressed award!

Black and White doesn’t get any better. In my humble opinion, Julia Omotade’s cocktail dress puts all others to shame and as the best dressed at the GDBBS Banquet.

Besties!
Besties!
Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow claims she does "this with my hair everyday at lab."
Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow from Neuroscience claims she does “this with my hair everyday at lab.”
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Because it's alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
Because it’s alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
The food was much better in years past.
The food was much better in years past.
Version 2
Constance Harrell Shreckengost from Neuroscience receives the graduate Career Award
IMG_2437
Lauren DePoy receives the Neuroscience Scholar of the Year Award
Version 2
A bowl?! I work for 13 years and all I get is a bowl with a dent in it?!?!
Version 2
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience receives the Graduate Program in Biology Academic and Achievement Award
Version 2
My two bundles of joy!

Fun Had By All: 3rd Annual Neuroscience Award Ceremony

IMG_2135Congratulations to all our 2015 student award winners! It’s time to update your CVs.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement: Kelly Lohr
Outstanding Early Achievement: Maria Briscione
Scientific Outreach: Carlie Hoffman
University Service: Natty Chalermpalanupap
Leadership: Ashley Sullivan
Excellence in Teaching: Karl Schmidt
Excellence in Mentorship: Zachary Johnson
GIN Faculty of the Year:  Malu Tansey
GIN Service Award: Maylen Perez Diaz
Director’s Impact Award:  Machelle Pardue
Director’s Unsung Hero Award: Don Noble
Excellence in Service: Gary Longstreet
IMG_2128
Award winner Carlie Hoffman and her entourage. Chris is obviously Ari Gold.
IMG_2116
And the winners for first in food line are… Of course, dominated by program veterans.
Our new Director with his award winning protege.
Our new Director with his award winning protege.
IMG_2120
While grad students mingle, Monica Taylor smiles and plots the next GDBBS update for your spam folder.
IMG_2131
Ladies…
IMG_2122
Tom, as always, demonstrates his superior cheese stacking technique while in perfect cocktail attire.

 

IMG_2133
“There’s the door, Don! What’s stopping you?”
"So a penguin and a farmer walk into a bar..."
“So a penguin and a farmer walk into a bar…”

IMG_2125

Atlanta Science Festival 2015: The Science of Beer

By Don Noblebeerscience

One of the highlights of this year’s Atlanta Science Festival (held March 21-28) is sure to be the Science of Beer series, sponsored by Georgia Bio and organized by our very own Neuroscience Graduate Program alum, Dr. Jacob Shreckengost (affectionately referred to as Dr. Cupcake by those in the know). This two-part event will encompass exciting talks, tours, interactive demos, and surprise!… plenty of beer to make you forget everything you’ve learned and come back next year!

Each event consists of a brief lecture and several activities designed to fully immerse you in the theme of the day. In both cases, you will hear from scientists and brewers, taste some of the relevant beers, tour the brewery, and explore interactive demos on the science of beer.

Part I on Monday, March 23rd from 6:30-8:30 @ Orpheus Brewing: The first Talk, Tasting, and Tour (modeled after former presidential candidate Herman Cain’s T-T-T plan) will focus on discovering the biology of bacterial fermentation and its role in making certain beers sour. The lecture, given by Dr. Chris Cornelison of Georgia State University, will explore the bacterial processes that give your favorite farmhouse ale and saisons just the right amount of funk, and will be accompanied by beer pairings crafted by Orpheus Brewing. After the talk and discussion, participants will have the opportunity to take tours, view and participate in demos on the science of beer, and mingle with fellow beer nerds and novices. Tickets are available here.

Part II on Wednesday, March 25th from 6:30-8:30 @ Monday Night Brewing: The second event will focus on discovering the neuroscience of taste and how the brain experiences hoppiness. The lecture, given by Emory’s Dr. Kerry Ressler, is titled “From the Brain to the Bulb: How Your Head Handles Hops”, and will explore the neuroscience of taste and how the brain experiences the floral, citrusy and piney bouquets of different hop varieties. It will be accompanied by beer pairings crafted by Monday Night Brewing. Again, after the talk and discussion, participants will have the opportunity to take tours, view and participate in demos on the science of beer, and mingle with fellow beer nerds and novices. Tickets are available here.

If you don’t pass out trying to drink Jacob under the table, you’ll leave with a greater appreciation for the expanding and innovating scientific and brewing community in Atlanta, as well as a collectible Atlanta Science Festival Science of Beer 400mL beaker/pint glass.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets to the event can be purchased below:

http://atlantasciencefestival.org/events/event/1053 (Part I)

Orpheus Brewing: 1440 Dutch Valley Pl NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

http://atlantasciencefestival.org/events/event/1054 (Part 2)

Monday Night Brewing: 678 Trabert Ave., Atlanta, 30318 

#ShutItDownATL / Solidarity for Black Bodies Action

Written By Katherine Bryant

Photographs by Filomene Morrison

How does power move through institutions? Systems? Communities? Bodies? How can we localize power and grapple with it? What are the leverage points of this power – and how can you access them?

A good way to find out is to get upset, grab a handmade sign, and head downtown.Shut it Down

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, hundreds, perhaps nearly a thousand, congregated at Underground Atlanta in response to the Grand Jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown. It was pretty easy to find the crowd – after passing about 6 different news trucks, we saw the 103.3 FM tent, live broadcasting the protest. Another sign was the presence of three helicopters continuously circling above the crowd.

The event began with a 4-minute moment of silence, which had been requested by the Brown family after the announcement of the verdict. Four minutes for the four hours that Mike Brown’s body lay on the pavement after being shot by Darren Wilson. From there on, at the top of every hour, hundreds of people paused and reflected silently for four minutes. I thought about Mike Brown’s parents seeing their son’s body, slumped over in the middle of the street.

The hours-long event was packed with poets, professors, artists, and musicians. There was spoken word. There was dance. There was singing. There were powerful speeches. There were young people, scared for the future of their generation, but still full of energy and ready to start a revolution. There were older folks, bringing historical perspective, and no less passionate.

The action demonstrated the incredible power the community has when it comes together BlackLivesMatterto share information, pain, and strength. As multiple speakers stated, this was not just about Mike Brown, but about Trayvon Martin. Charles Smith. Ezell Ford. Vonderitt Myers. And many others we don’t hear about. Like Kendrick Johnson, a teenager whose body was found face down in a rolled up wrestling mat in a high school in South Georgia. Federal investigators were brought in after evidence of wrongful death and a coverup by school officials and Sheriff’s office were discovered by an independent pathologist hired by Johnson’s parents.

There is no way for me to do justice to what was said, or summarize the speeches effectively. The best I can do is tell you what I heard and felt. I heard people taught to be ashamed of their heritage. I heard people whose lives meant being ostracized. I heard people who were getting the message, loud and clear, that their lives didn’t have value and weren’t worth protecting by those in charge. I heard people who didn’t feel at home in their own country, a country that generations before had lived in, and built. I heard people who were tired of trying to explain why they deserved to live, and were tired of fearing for their children’s lives.Who's next

I left before the protestors marched and eventually physically shut down traffic, with just their bodies, on the I-75/I-85 connector. That’s right – Atlantans, with their hands raised, marched onto the highway and shut it down. SWAT teams appeared, with tear gas canisters; 40 were arrested.

For a moment, the system was shut down, and the police were forced to respond. A leverage point, perhaps small, but important, was used. Since Tuesday, there have been actions nearly every single day, including a staged die-in, an educational flash-mob and a Moral Monday event at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which included a speech from Attorney General Eric Holder.

What kind of clout should we expect from an embattled bureaucrat like Holder? What structural change we can hope for when the nation’s first black president declines to visit the site of Michael Brown’s murder? I don’t know. But here’s what the people of Atlanta have to say about it:

Hands Up – Don’t Shoot . Black Lives Matter. We Charge Genocide. Shut It Down.

SfN Field Report and Swag Cheat Sheet 2014

By Don Noble and Mandy Bekhbat

Not everyone comes entirely prepared for the annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting. Some of us are working on our posters up to the last second, or wondering why we booked a townhouse 40 minutes from the convention center during a polar vortex. But that doesn’t provide an excuse to miss the important things in life, like national landmarks, free swag, and entertaining episodes of self-loathing.

Our swashbuckling editors Don Noble and Mandy Bekhbat attended SfN 2014 in Washington D.C. for at least one of these reasons. Don’s account reflects the experience of a seasoned veteran (i.e. old man) while Mandy’s reflects that of a second-year who on more than one occasion was sighted passed out on the convention floor from sheer exhaustion. Indeed, one’s first time going to SfN can be quite an experience. This year, more than 31,000 neuroscientists convened at SfN’s annual meeting, presenting 15,000 abstracts, and approximately 600 vendor booths exhibited their products and services. Just looking at these numbers, Mandy braced herself for an overwhelming experience. But in this case, she learned that one can never quite be fully prepared for being overwhelmed by the breadth of different types of neuroscience research and the sheer number of posters.

Additionally, throughout the five days of the meeting, the evenings were filled with SfN-sponsored socials. While some of them, including Alzheimer’s and Behavioral Neuroendocrinology socials, were packed full mostly of postdocs and junior investigators, others, such as the Clinical neuroscience social, were events where undergraduate researchers could mingle with some of the biggest names in the field. Below we describe the conference and provide photographic documentation that rigorous science and human inanity are not mutually exclusive.

Self-loathing: Michael McKinnon contemplates his own intrinsic nature, and the reason his poster got assigned to row VV.

MichaelJefferson
Magnets, how do they work?
Row VV
Row Double V. Tumbleweeds airbrushed out of photo.

 

 

Landmarks: There was also ample time to visit museums and admire the incredible (in)efficiency of government.

DonWhiteHouse
This picture was taken shortly before Don Noble attempted to jump the fence.
D+MWashingtonMonument
A metaphor for SfN: neuroscience graduate students dwarfed by their surroundings, are reminded how small they really are.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History provided some pleasant respite on the last night of the conference.

DonBear
This same bear made a semi-transparent appearance in Don’s SfN poster.
DonMonkey
It’s okay, fake animal. Someday we’ll understand why your brain is so small.

 

The vendors: If you still had energy left from meeting so many people and being mind-blown by their awesome research, there were also vendors to be explored.

One notable vendor was Backyard Brains, a start-up that designs and offers affordable electrophysiology experiment kits for students of all ages to learn about neural communication. One of their products, the Roboroach, is what they describe as the world’s first commercially available cyborg. It comes with a surgical kit that enables the insertion of electrodes into the antennae of the roach, thus allowing the experimenter to control its movements using his/her smart phone. Other products, such as the SpikerBox, are equally straightforward and interesting to students of all ages

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_B7kCjs4jg#t=20

Mandy Chimp
Mandy proudly wears her SfN freebie, then does a chimp dance.

Many of the vendors were also giving away freebies (see Mandy, now with 2% less chimp!). For the first time, we release top-secret techniques for augmenting your ‘bag’ or ‘swag’ inventory.

Bag Technique:

If you didn’t know, SfN is all about carry-bag game, and select vendors produce some beauties. In scoring the crème de la crème at SfN, you’ll need to master good bag technique. Even if – aside from drinking enough PBR at the Clermont Lounge to start your own indie band – you usually refrain from the hipster lifestyle, you’ll want to be a Hipster Bag Hag. Let us break down what this means:

i) First and foremost, you want a dank ass bag. But this means other people will also have your awesome bag, unless it is…

ii) a limited edition bag that was only available during the Sunday session, which means it’s cooler if….

bird swag
Nerd Michael says: Don, that’s a finch, not Bird Jesus!

iii) you managed to swipe one from someone else, so it doesn’t look like you spent a full week at the conference to avoid doing research.

Some examples that escaped our grasp were the Abcam and Bethyl photo bags. Nice neurons are in style for a hot minute, and these were top of the line neurons.

However, after some back-and-forth about undergraduate research in zebra finches, Don landed his favorite bag of the year: a simple yet swanky specimen from F1000 that featured a stylin’ ‘Bird Jesus’ doing im-peck-able science, crafted from exquisitely unassuming material that rivaled Kroger’s reusable grocery bags.

Swag Technique:mouseswag

Ethics often go out the window when it comes to swiping science swag. Roommate and program legend Travis Rotterman stole Don’s mail in order to get his pick of the litter: a 2GB mouse thumb drive from Jackson Laboratories.

science mugTravis: I feel bad for stealing your mail Don, use my AAAS/Science membership email to get this free coffee tumbler.

Thorlabs, famous for the complimentary lab snacks they provide when well-intentioned but brain teeverdant labmates order overpriced epoxy, gives out free t-shirts sporting their crazed wolf and some mushy-looking organ.

Play the BIOS brain tracing game to win a stuffed dragon and an outer space-esque black and green t-shirt that you may even wear at some point in your life. Protip: visit at the end of each half hour to catch the crowds by surprise and cherry-pick the dank ass swag late. Yoooiinkk!

michaelmaze
Michael McKinnon thinks he’s onto something. World champion labmate Mallika Halder explains: “focus just ahead of the marker.”

Overall, SfN 2014 was a winning experience. Can you contribute your own pictures or story? Think you have what it takes to win some official SfN 2014 swag? Then see below!

Announcement of picture competition #2

Do you have pictures that are more beautiful (nope), more academically impressive (e.g. you surrounded by a large poster crowd, i.e. presenting something with ‘optogenetics’ in the title), or sexier (e.g. you presenting something with ‘optogenetics’ in the title) than the ones shown here? Send them to don.j.noble@gmail.com to win official SfN souvenir swag and be featured in an upcoming edition of the Sulcus!

Nerd Wars: The Battle for Science Audiences in Atlanta

By Amielle Moreno

Science lovers’ calendars are filling up on weeknights, thanks to the weekly and monthly events hosted by Atlanta’s growing science/nerd scene. While both Atlanta Science Tavern and Nerd Nite can satisfy your science and booze cravings, they’re distinctly different in subject and clientele. Both organizations are hungry for speakers, so here’s the scoop before you decide to present or decide to attend.

Alright, who has a 401K?
Figure 1: Alright, who has a 401K?

Atlanta Science Tavern has scientists from around the Atlanta area, including Emory Professors, give professional talks about their research. Like a light version of our Frontiers seminar series, these events allow you to get a glimpse of the research going on around the city, while you share a table with someone who looks like your Uncle Hector.  If you’ve never been, this is as good a time as any to explain why you’re sitting next to a 65 year-old guy, who you have to split your check with. The Science Tavern generally occurs at the great Atlanta meeting house, Manuel’s Tavern, whose large wood tables have eight person capacities, giving you a chance to meet some new “friends” before the lecture begin.

This has to be the worst part of the Atlanta Science Tavern; the other audience members. Built into the start time of each event is an hour of what will be the most mundane conversation of your life. With a mean age of 65, your fellow patrons might be aggressively lonely people who have out of date social skills. To address or cause this issue, Atlanta Science Tavern hosts a monthly 40s and older singles group, which adds to the ‘recently divorced’ vibe of its events.

I love the spirit and the diversity of lecturers and events the Atlanta Science Tavern puts together, but it’s hard not to notice the sizable age gap between me and all the other attendees. The annual Trivia night was all science and impressively hard core, but not a single song played between questions was younger than the most recent turn of the century. Although I’ve tried to block it out of my memory, I heard one woman try to start a conversation for the table by stating “I have no idea what being a student is like now with the Internet.” (*insert Saved by the Bell time out*) She wasn’t asking anyone a question. She didn’t want to talk to us about this transitional technology and how its changed world views or education. She was talking at us about how hard she had to work, 40 years ago, in college. I can’t imagine a more effective combination of whining and ego, to push strangers away and, by the time the Georgia Tech professor began his presentation on the evolution of mRNA, I had reached the half-way point in chewing through my arm.

Now I can already hear some detractors now; “Amielle, I had a wonderful conversation with people at Science Tavern!” And to them, I say, stop #$%&ing on my point and let me talk at you some more.

Figure 2: Hey baby, I like those genes ...
Figure 2: Hey baby, I like those genes …

Enter Science Tavern’s cool younger brother, Nerd Nite. This hipster sweat fueled organization has chapters across the country and has just started up in Atlanta. Appealing to a much younger demographic, Nerd Nite invites speakers to talk about subjects they’re close to and inevitably ends up having at least one science-related speaker. But the speakers end up being the biggest detracting factor of these events. They rarely seem to cater to or understand the nerd audience and our love for facts or processes. It quickly becomes obvious and frustrating when you realize that speakers have cut and pasted a presentation from a sales pitch or another event for the Nerd Nite audience. They range the gamut from self-involved narcissist hungry for limelight (a presenter who used make-up to turn an audience member into a zombie and then had the gall to insult Mystery Science Theater Three thousand) to sales people hawking their own personal scenes or businesses (a woman from a DIY co-op eager to get new members). And the science is very watered down. At a recent Nerd Nite, a fellow Emory student and I were left uninfected by a superficial microbiome presentation. Although, there are surprises, such as when what I thought was going to be the most boring speaker of the night broke down how he was able to drive from NYC to LA in 28 hours. He shared his nerdiness by focusing on the extensive details and planning involved in his cannonball run, winning hearts and nerd minds.

Also hosted by Manuel’s Tavern, these events allow you to interact with a much younger crowd. Conversations at the table tend to flow easier without a generation gap … or two. Presenters could easily sit at your table, such as my favorite speaker, who works with three endangered species of lemurs, and presented on these ancient primates’ migration to Madagascar and their various environmental niches. It’s easy to make new friends, exchange ideas and numbers, while you discuss previous presenters during the musical breaks. This isn’t to say that all the conversations are gems.

Me (to table mate): So, what are you nerdy about?
Sack of @#$*: I’m not a nerd…
Me: … Oh… (silence) … Well, what do you do for work?
S o S: I’m in IT.
Me: Isn’t that kinda nerdy?
S o S: I don’t wanna talk about it…

In summary, go to the Atlanta Science Tavern, be the youngest person in the audience, bring friends and enjoy hearing professional scientists discuss a subject that fascinates you.

And/Or:

Go to Nerd Nite, soak up the 2:1 girl to guy ratio, enjoy one out of the night’s three speakers, and get some numbers.