NERD NITE MELBOURNE EDITION #38
We have another excellent 3-speaker lineup for you in August where speakers will be discussing plasma, diseases in a dish and how your kidneys work (and what happens when they don’t!). Come join us at Howler in Brunswick, for $16 burger and pot deals whilst you are learning.
Invisible Forces: The magic of Plasma and Thin Films
by Dr. Karyn Jarvis
Description: Plasma is a highly excited gas that makes up an astonishing 99% of the universe. Every time you see a neon sign, you’re seeing plasma. Plasma may be critical to the Las Vegas strip and cheap motel’s vacancy signs, but what else can we use it for? Plasma can be used for all sorts of things but in this presentation, we’ll focus on thin films. Thin films are so thin they’re measured in nanometres, which are one billionth of a meter. Thin films can be used to control how objects interact with water, light, bacteria and cells. In this talk, we’ll gain an appreciation of plasma and thin films and see how much they actually impact our lives day to day.
Bio: Karyn likes to think of herself as a surface modification and characterisation aficionado. After spending time working in both Adelaide and Sydney, Karyn moved to Melbourne in 2015 to join Swinburne University of Technology. The common thread across her scientific career has been surfaces and thin films, having worked across their applications in drug delivery, water treatment, solar cell and biological systems. Karyn’s current role is a research engineer at the Australian National Fabrication Facility Biointerface Engineering Hub which provides state of the art micro and nano fabrication facilities for academic and industry users. She tweets @dr_karynJ.
Disease in a Dish: Using Stem Cells to Understand Brain Diseases
by Dr. Sam Barton
Description: Diseases of the brain are tricky. We can take images of the brain when patients start exhibiting symptoms but that’s often long after the actual onset of the disease. You can’t biopsy the brain, like you can other organs, either. So until recently, it was almost impossible to know what was really going on inside a diseased brain. But, thanks to stem cells, now we can! We can take skin cells from patients with diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or motor neuron disease, make stem cells and then convert them into brain cells in a dish; effectively making a “disease in a dish”. Understanding what is going wrong allows us to figure out ways to fix it. For a glimpse into the future of neuroscience, join Sam as she takes you on a journey of stem cell biology!
Bio: Dr. Sam Barton is a post-doctoral researcher working at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. She always found the brain to be way too complicated and vowed never to become a neuroscientist yet she has found herself spending her days and weeks and years growing lots of different cell types from the brain to try and understand why they stop working in diseases like motor neuron disease. Sam completed her PhD at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research before moving overseas to work at the University of Edinburgh for a couple of years. She was looking forward to moving home to watch the Melbourne Demons win the 2019 premiership… at least it’s given her more time to spend in the lab! She tweets @samkbarton7
How Your Kidneys Work & What Happens When They Don’t
by Danny Ussher
Description: Kidneys are a vital organ for filtering out all the toxins you put in every Nerd Nite (and every other day of the year). Most people assume they have two kidneys and they work well, however less than 10% of people with chronic kidney disease are aware they have the condition and currently one in three Australians are at an increased risk of developing kidney issues. In celebration of 5 years since receiving a kidney transplant, Danny will expound on how your kidneys work and the pathways of renal replacement therapy when they no longer work. He’ll regale you with his experiences and collected anecdotes of the good, the bad and the shit of living beyond death on other people’s spare parts. Be aware he will talk about your urine a lot so take advantage of the break prior.
Bio: Danny is a teacher of English to speakers of other languages. He was living overseas but came back to Australia to help a friend open a restaurant. That’s when a kidney test led to a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Failure. Months of poking and prodding couldn’t solve the conundrums of what was wrong, nor how he was still functioning normally, so a new kidney was the best option. Danny only had to spend eleven months on a dialysis machine 9 hours a night every night waiting for that phone call. August 2014 he got lucky from another family’s tragedy. Post-transplant recovery has been long and arduous, but last year he started to run, completing his first half marathon then the full Melbourne Marathon twelve weeks later. As well as continuing to teach English and run beyond what is put in front of him, Danny loves to share his story to encourage people to celebrate life, look after their kidneys and become organ donors.