Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Sea Level Rise – a Real 💩 Storm:
Shellie Habel, PhD
As sea level continues to rise, the functionality of cesspools and other types of onsite sewage disposal systems are being threatened, specifically in low-lying coastal areas. This is occurring both by coastal erosion and groundwater inundation of these systems. Modeling and monitoring by our team and fellow colleagues will make you say “Ewwww”

Cesspools are Poo-pools, What Are We Doodoo-ing About It?💩
Shayla Waiki, MS
Hear about her cesspool dye tracer work as a graduate student and the efforts in outreach and policy the WAI team along with many others are focused on to address this crappy situation.

Making Sanitation Sexy Again
Stuart Coleman, MFA
Stuart Coleman will share his journey from working on plastic pollution and water quality issues at the Surfrider Foundation to starting up our non-profit WAI: Wastewater Alternatives & Innovations, which is focused on reducing sewage pollution in Hawaiʻi. During his time at Surfrider, they started a new project called Civics Is Sexy, which helped introduce hundreds of people to the state’s legislative process and eventually pass landmark bills banning single-use plastics and mandating the closure of all cesspools by 2050.

Nerd Nite Honolulu October 2020 October Nerd Nite 2020!

Our Speakers with short talk abstracts:

Speaker 1: Emily Conklin
Garbage wolves and friendly foxes: Domestication and DNA
The dog-human connection might be one of our best collaborations – how did we change dogs on a molecular level, and how might they have changed us? And what if we tried to do it again? Join us as we explore canine domestication, from paleolithic trash heaps to Russian fox farms.

Speaker 2: Nic Ulm
Getting Wet with Big Wave Energy
Have you ever wondered how we could harness the raw energy of the ebb and flow? Well join me in exploring how that wet pulse of big wave energy can help us explore deep into our oceans for longer than ever before.

Speaker 3: Valentina Alvarez
Plastic in Paradise
Wind patterns and ocean currents combined with Hawaii’s location in the North Pacific Gyre leaves the archipelago exposed to the persistent impact of marine debris. As most of this marine debris originates from other parts of the world, it’s important for us to understand the dynamics of this system so we can do our part to preserve our precious ecosystem and everything that makes Hawaii, Hawaii. In this talk, I will discuss the dangers of plastics, the factors that make Hawaii vulnerable, and what we can do as individuals to act locally yet have a global impact.

September Nerd Nite!

Sign up here: https://forms.gle/spEDxL4UeXQ4Pnnz7

Speaker information and topics:

Speaker 1: Justin Hite
The Akikiki, Kauai’s most endangered bird, is cute, little, nimble, mousy, hushed and spectacular. Join me as we explore their cosmic journey, from the big bang through their wild ancestral ride through the Mesozoic as dinosaurs to their uncertain present.

Speaker 2: Allyson Earl
Smokey the Bear: Saint or Satan?
In the rapidly changing world of forest management there has been one constant in US forests for the last 75 years, Smokey the Bear. The most successful PSA in history Smokey was an overnight success, but has Smokey’s success come at a cost? Has this loveable bear been too good at his job? As the context of fire in the US is illuminated, Smokey’s history will come into question and it will be up to you to decide if this shirtless messiah of the forest is in fact the saint we desperately need, or a devil with a fiery agenda.

Speaker 3: Sydney Raquel
Questioning Reality with VR
I have a small immersive tech start up company based out of Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Asheville, NC. Using video game dev engines as well as 360/VR cameras, we work to create content that immerses users into alternate realities and use storytelling techniques that embrace what we foresee as the next generation of media. In this talk we will discuss all things VR, from behind the scenes to what is right in front of you. Gear up and get ready to get heady.

Nerd Nite August 2020

Sign up here for the zoom link: https://forms.gle/bc7RvASnjKQKGzMJ8

Our Speakers and topics:

Speaker 1: Arielle Crews
Lepto and the Lyme Light: Pathogen Survival in Two Complex Ecosystems
In every ecosystem, organisms compete for resources. This fight for survival occurs at all levels from lions hunting for food to ants for habitat. But what if I told you this also happens with pathogens and one of the resources is us?

Speaker 2: Helen Sung
Crocodylians: Evolution’s Perfect Murder Sausages
Crocodylians are not only some of the world’s largest, most powerful predators, but also outlived the dinosaurs through mass extinctions and global changes. So what makes these glorious murder sausages so evolutionarily successful? Join me as I tell you about why I think crocodylians are the best and why you should think so too.

Speaker 3: Leon Tran
A Hippo Invasion: The Unexpected Legacy of Pablo Escobar
In the wake of Pablo Escobar’s death, his empire remains in its various forms. Part of his empire included a pod of hippos whose ecological legacy has much to be revealed.

Nerd Nite Honolulu #72: Shrimp, Politics, and Funerals!

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Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture

Bell Lin

  1. Our world loves Seafood! Especially for shrimp!
    2. How much shrimp do Americans eat? (Forest Gump shrimp joke)
    3. What is shrimp aquaculture
    4. Problem with traditional shrimp aquaculture
    5. What is sustainable shrimp aquaculture?
    6. Life cycle of Pacific White Shrimp

Bell Lin is a research assistant at Oceanic Institute’s shrimp department. He did his master degree in marine science at Hawaii Pacific University and got his bachelor’s degree in aquaculture at National Taiwan Ocean University. He’s a free diver and does underwater photography. He cooks and eats shrimp every day.


Fascists and Oligarchs and Democracy, oh my! The origins of our common political language

Warren McKenzie

Description: A close-ish look at the terminology which has come to dominate our political discourse, and a talk/diatribe on how these words have changed from their classical origins in political theory as they enter common use. As political talks are inherently somewhat charged and certain touchy topics cannot be avoided, supporters of Dion of Syracuse are encouraged to drink extra beforehand.

Warren McKenzie is a PhD student in mineral physicist who works on lunar regolith and developing simulants and standards for an upcoming Lunar lander in addition to working with presolar silicon carbide, remnants of asymptotic giant branch stars and supernovae which were accreted in the early solar system. Once every year or so he drags the rotting carcass of a political theory degree out of storage and tries to do something entertaining with it.


Taking Care of Your Own Dead: Home Funerals & Death Midwifery

Leilani Maxera

Until the Civil War home funerals were considered the norm in America. They are safe, legal, and are currently making a resurgence. This talk will teach you more about current home funeral practices and how they can benefit the loved ones of those who died.

Leilani Maxera is a social worker, death doula, and the Outreach & Overdose Prevention Manager at Hawai’i Health & Harm Reduction Center. She spends most of her time talking about death and drugs, but also loves reading, horror, and being marginally good at trivia. She is the facilitator for Death Cafe Honolulu, a death and dying discussion group that is free and open to all.

Nerd Nite Honolulu #71 – Isotopies, Fishies, & Galaxies
















Come drink, think, and be merry with your fellow nerd ʻohana as three experts talk story!


Iso-what-now? How stable isotopes help scientists understand life and our planet

Dr. Chris Wall

Isotopes—funny name, serious topic. Isotopes, in particular “stable isotopes” are naturally occurring elements that occupy the same place on the periodic table as elements we all know, such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. However, “heavy” and “light” isotopes of these elements behave and react in slightly different ways due to small differences in mass. I know, this is sounds like a nightmare from your high school chemistry class; it isn’t! Isotopes are hugely important and have contributed to our understanding of species interactions in food webs, the hydrological cycle, and have been used as evidence in topics validating man-made climate change and geographic sources of cocaine. Seriously. Join us for an enriching experience about the shared chemistry of life and learn the truth behind the saying, “You are what you eat.”

Chris received his Ph.D. studying reef coral and environmental stress from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and is a Post-doctoral Research at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at UH working on host-microbe interactions in plants. He loves
surfing, thrash metal, and heavy nerding on isotopes.


Fish for dinner? How you can support local fishers and sustainable fisheries by being a more mindful consumer

Ashley Watts

Local I’a is Hawaii’s only community supported fishery and sustainable seafood distributor. All seafood is traceable from boat to plate. Fair-trade for the resource fosters more sustainable fisheries and provides fishers the means to support their families and remain fishing. We provide seafood directly to consumers through our prepaid CSF service, at farmers markets & Kokua market Coop, catering & events, and to chefs islandwide.

Ashley is a marine biologist turned entrepreneur making waves in our local sustainable food movement. She is honored to share her story with you all.


Galaxies like to live together

Dr. Roy Gal

Like people, galaxies are social. They are not distributed randomly throughout the universe, instead aggregating into giant clusters of galaxies, smaller groups, and some preferring rural life. Just like people, galaxies in these different environments have different properties, and these distinctions change with time. Why? What are the physical causes? Let’s do some galaxy sociology and find out.

Roy grew up in New York City where he couldn’t see the stars, but he still became an astronomer. He did his undergrad at Columbia, PhD at Caltech, and stints at Johns Hopkins, UVa, and UC Davis before giving up on the coasts and moving to Hawaii 12 years ago. He uses observatories on the ground and in space to study how galaxies in the universe’s cities, suburbs, and rural areas change over cosmic time, but spends most of his time doing public outreach and media relations for the UH Institute for Astronomy. His wife Christine is a radiologist and together they run the Hawaii Lego Users Group, and have two young boys, ages 6 and 3.

Nerd Nite #70: Polynesian Voyaging Society

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Oh the lessons we Learned:

Stories of adventure and impact from crew members of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia’s Worldwide Voyage

Crew members from the Worldwide Voyage of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia will share a general description of how the Mālama Honua journey began, adventures they experienced along the way and lessons learned that continue to impact their personal and professional lives. Pay close attention because we will end the night with some Worldwide Voyage themed trivial, where participants can win coveted Polynesian Voyaging Society prizes.

Bruce Black – 58 yrs. on earth, husband, father, teacher, about 60% water but 100% water enthusiast. Went to school at Punahou class of 79. Attended UCLA and got a degree in Sociology. Then Chaminade University for my Masters in Education. I was a 5th grade teacher with Mid Pacific School for 20 years. Presently owner of an Eco-adventure tour business called Aloha Spirit Hawaii. Bruce was a crew member on leg 11: Aurere – Brisbane and the 2016 sail to Brazil.

Matt Caires – Matt’s first time sailing on Hōkūleʻa was on Leg 24 sailing from New York to Virginia. To Matt, Hōkūleʻa is both physically and spiritually a vessel to help us connect to Hawaiian traditions, culture, practices, and way of life and to share them with the world. Through her, we can stay connected to and honor our past and channel the lessons of our ancestors to guide our future.
While out at sea, Matt most misses ice cubes. When back on land, Matt misses the feeling of being forced to work with the elements – wind, water, sun and darkness – in order to survive. Matt was a crew member on leg 24: New York – Virginia and the Homecoming leg from Tahiti to Honolulu.

Shawn Kanaiaupuni – Shawn Kana’iaupuni, Pūpūkea native, Kailua resident, nerd imposter. Alum and employee at Kamehameha schools. Lived in Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Mexico, Madison. Has eaten rat and cricket???? Loves voyaging, tennis, paddling, and hanging with family. On Hōkūleʻa, went to USVI, BVI, Cuba, Florida, Potomac River DC, Hudson River NYC, Panama City, Galapagos, Tahiti, and on Hikianalia from Cali to Hawaiʻi last year. Shawn is the Director of Public Education Support at Kamehameha School, through which she works closely with the Polynesian Voyaging Society on the educational efforts of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Aloha!

Tara O’Neill – Originally from Washington, DC, Tara first sailed on Hōkūleʻa in 2011. To her, Hōkūleʻa gives permission to imagine infinite possibility. As a professor of science and STEM education at UH Mānoa, the Worldwide Voyage served as a catalyst for restructuring the education sail plan within Hawaiʻi and beyond. Inspired by voyage, Tara created a place and culture-based STEM education construct called STEMS2. One of the goals of STEMS2 is to reconnect STEM education to our local communities and for community and civic application of knowledge to be valued over standardized test scores. Tara was crew of two statewide legs of the voyage (Maui – Molokaʻi and Moloka‘i – Oahu) and leg 9: Auckland of the Worldwide voyage.

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Nerd Nite #69: Stars, Worldly Realities, & Disasters



Alternative realities in our Brave New World

Dr. Charles Birkeland – Coral Reef Biologist, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

In 1932, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World told the story of a future society in which the people are conditioned to dislike nature and books. Their main purpose in life will be to purchase and consume continuously to keep the GDP growing.  Fossil fuels, technology, and electronic media have led us to give abstract realities (e.g., GDP, debt, etc.) priority over material realities (resource stock size, atmospheric chemistry, etc.) for continuous growth, giving sustainability little thought. Faust himself had to pay the Devil for his rich life, but while we are enjoying the rich life given to us by fossil fuels, technology, and electronic media, the repayment will be taken from our grandchildren. How can we turn this around?

Charles Birkeland has been studying coral reefs for 49 years – so far. After receiving his degree from the University of Washington in 1970, he had a post-doc with the Smithsonian in Panama for 5 years, was at the University of Guam Marine Lab for 25 years, and has been associated with the Zoology/Biology Department at UH for 19 years.


Disasters: It’s not if, but when!

John Cummings III – Public Information Officer, Honolulu Department of Emergency Management

An emergency can strike our community, homes, and families unexpectedly and without warning. Do you know what to do? Does your family know how to contact you? Do you have a plan to connect and meet up with your loved ones? Do you have 14 days’ worth of disaster supplies, food, and water for you and all members and pets in your household?

Additionally, due to our isolation, large population, and limited resources, it could be a number of days to weeks before help arrives to your community. Government may not be able to effectively respond to a large scale disaster without your help. Community preparedness begins at home and begins today, not when a disaster is looming.

John will talk about disaster preparedness and why everyone in Hawai’i needs to be concerned and begin planning immediately if they have not done so already.


Star Hopping the Hawaiian Night Sky

Tony Smith – Lead Planetarium Educator, Bishop Museum

Learn some basic astronomy and how to identify celestial objects visible in the skies over Hawaii. We’ll learn about Hawaiian stars and constellations alongside the Western system and how Harry Potter fits into the picture too!

Tony Smith has been a Science Educator since high school when he volunteered with Outdoor School in the forests near his native Portland, Oregon teaching 6th graders about natural science. After graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in General Science and intentions to be a middle school science teacher, Tony instead ran back to the woods and worked as staff at Outdoor School. Tony has also worked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland and Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA. He  is currently the Lead Planetarium Educator at the Bishop Museum. When he’s not staring at the night sky, Tony is also a Co-Boss of Nerd Nite Honolulu.

Nerd Nite #68: International – Sexy Talk – Data

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International Development: technological progress in distant corners of the globe
Brennan Purtzer

Brennan is a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Ukraine, the founder of the Blue Continent Alliance international research project, and The Molokai Island Times Newspaper. After founding his first business at age 22, he has worked on presidential and directed congressional campaigns, lived at the North Pole and received his Masters degree from Norway. Over the past 10 years, he has conducted international development research on nearly every continent.

In this presentation, Brennan will share a sampling of the work he has observed while developing the Your Blue Continent media project in the past year, and shedding light on the state of international development today.


Talking Dirty with Confidence: a tutorial for shy and stumped nerds
Maria Houar

Dirty talk is the most adaptable, not to mention affordable (free!) of kinks, but those looking to try new things with their partners express feeling bashful, silly, or simply at a loss for words, when they find themselves “in the moment”. In this presentation, we will use cooking metaphors to walk through some fun, easy and accessible ways to engage in safe and consensual dirty talk with confidence. Anyone can use these skills to spice things up when things are getting hot in the kitchen, so to speak! This talk is safe for work, but it won’t be bland.

Maria Teresa is part of the Doctoral program of Performance Studies at UH Mānoa, researching dance, queerness, sexuality, and consensual allyship in live performance.


Professional Data Wrestler
Dean Ramos

Dean will be sharing a unique perspective of how he wrestles complex data into submission. He’ll be hitting three points:
1) Technology & the World Around Us, 2) How Computers Talk to Each other, and 3) Tying it all together and why it’s relevant to you.

Dean Anthony Ramos has 20 years of experience in information technology with a passion for learning how things work. A graduate of San Jose State University and a member in the Gary Sbona Honors Program. In addition to managing data, he is the Official UCE Wrestling Ring Announcer.

Nerd Nite #67 – ChemComms, Plant-Animals, & Sitcoms


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Dr. Marnie Freckelton



Amy Hruska

Species interactions are the bread and butter of ecosystems. But, we often hear about biodiversity, and its loss, through the lens of a species or a group of organisms. When we lose biodiversity though, we lose so much more than species. We lose interactions that are critical for ecosystem functions that we rely on. Join me as we take a whirlwind tour of past, present, and future global biodiversity through the lens of species interactions.



Danya Weber

Danya will be talking about how to create a sitcom (a creative endeavor) and the inner-workings/philosophy behind it.