While drawing in public, I have had countless conversations with random strangers about Art and being an artist, and mostly about how almost everybody thinks they aren’t one and can’t make any. I will endeavor to prove that everyone in the room was or is an artist, I will explain how my father’s desire for peace & quiet in restaurants defused my own Fear of the Blank Canvas, and I will answer the eternal question asked of every sidewalk artist: “But won’t you be sad when it rains?”
About David Zinn: David Zinn is a life-long A2 townie, an alumnus of the U-M Residential College, and a former freelance commercial artist who currently makes his living by drawing on sidewalks with chalk. He is as surprised by this as you are. Follow him on Twitter @davidzinn_art.
I used to think that comics were about stereotypical heroes who saved the day in spandex and capes. Then I discovered graphic novels, a more “niche” category of comic books that often defy traditional storytelling and explore unique perspectives: From quirky girls who hunt monsters at summer camp to badass lady-warriors who defend their castle with care and compassion, rather than with violence. I want to highlight some of these stories that rebel in their nonconformity, and how we can embody that in our everyday lives.
About Julie Cruz: Julie Cruz has lived in Ann Arbor for 8 years, but is a New Yorker at heart. Even though she has only visited twice. You may have seen her speeding past you on the street on her lime-green racing bike, flower-patterned leggings, and bright yellow backpack. She makes her living as a UX designer for a local startup, and does some writing on the side. Follow her on Twitter at @julieoncruise or check out her work at bit.ly/juliecruz.
Push buttons, knobs, touchscreens…Every day, we interact with hundreds of different switches around us, to do everything from prepare our coffee, type out our emails, turn ON the lights, drive our cars and everything in between. But have you ever paused to think about what goes into designing each of those micro-experiences? Have you thought about makes them all feel a certain way? How do you quantify and specify ‘feel’? Join me to learn about what makes our world click.
About Sagar Kamat: Sagar is an Automotive engineer by the day, where he helps craft the next generation of automotive user interfaces, and an all-out nerd by night, susceptible to frequent trips down the black hole of the internet reading about the vaguest of topics. Currently going through a podcast phase, he finds it difficult to carry on a conversation without, at least once, saying ‘Have you heard this podcast…..” You can read his blog at sagarkamat.com or find him on Twitter at @sagarkamat.
Over the course of evolution our brains have become excellent at detecting rewards (e.g. food or a potential mate) in our environment and in turn generating motivation to obtain that reward. While this system was originally necessary for survival, it can easily become maladaptive in a world where access to rewards (such as high-calorie food, drugs and alcohol, gambling) are present in abundance. Unfortunately, this reward detection system can become hypersentitive in some individuals, in turn causing excessive desire and craving each time they come across a reward cue in their world. This talk addresses how and why this reward system can become dysregulated in some individuals. Answering these questions will help scientists discover new treatment options for individuals living with addiction or psychiatric disorder.
About Erin Naffziger:
Erin is a PhD Candidate in Biopsychology at the University of Michigan studying how the brain creates the psychological processes: desire and craving. She wants to know how motivation is generated in the brain and how it may become dysregulated in mental illnesses. When she’s not playing with rats or using lasers to activate the brain, she enjoys true crime podcasts and hanging out with her elderly cat.
This Nerd Nite talk features U-M engineering PhD candidate Ben Swerdlow discussing the moral quandaries that may occur when algorithims are applied to the sheer quantity of personal data that is collected.
This A2 Nerd Nite talk features U-M PhD candidate in biopsychology Sofia Carrera explaining how neurotransmitters affect our behavior and feelings.
Could there be a planet lurking at the edge of our Solar System that we haven’t discovered yet? Maybe! It’s happened before. In this talk, Larissa Markwardt explains how the orbits of objects we already know about in our Solar System can be used to infer the existence of yet unseen planets. Larissa also discusses the history and science of the discoveries of Neptune and Pluto, searches for other hypothetical planets (Planet X and Vulcan), and the current hunt for Planet 9.
Larissa is a PhD candidate in Astronomy and Astrophysics and NSF graduate research fellow at the University of Michigan. She studies tiny, faint, and distant space rocks in our Solar System, specifically Earth Trojans and Kuiper Belt Objects. In her free time she likes to go hiking and kayaking, play board games, and watch Stargate. Find her on Twitter @LarMarStar.
In 1962 under President Kennedy’s direction, our nation committed itself to “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” At the time, this goal was physically impossible. In order to accomplish this goal, it had to be broken down into component tasks. Accomplishing these tasks determined the mission objectives of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Samuel Carpenter discusses not only the accomplishments these early space exploration efforts, but also outlines a general process of how to take on impossible goals. You will be able to apply this process in your own lives in order to achieve your ‘impossible’, whatever that happens to be.
Samuel is a Pennsylvania native who recently relocated to Ann Arbor from Portland, OR. Throughout a career in academic research and volunteering as a prehospital medical provider, he has maintained an avid interest in space exploration history as well as current progress of existing space programs. Find him on Twitter @carpensa1.
Fruit flies’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs (no, really, they are), but this is not why they love sugar. In our lab we feed cake to fruit flies to see what happens to their brains (#badlyexplainyourjob), and boy, a lot happens, and most of it is NOT good. Maybe this is why we all love sugar and can’t stop eating it. And if you are one of those weird people who doesn’t maybe stop by the lab so we can study you?
About Monica: I received my first microscope at age 7, a gift from my dad, and had an idyllic childhood in Italy pulling hair off Barbie’s and legs off bugs and looking at them under the microscope. What really kept me in science, however, was the pervasive beauty of the natural world. I still remember the first time, as a high school student, I heard about molecular biology: I was amazed by its beautiful complexity. Nearly twenty years later, I still haven’t found something that is man-made and more beautiful than the natural world, not even a Dolce and Gabbana dress. At 18 I left Italy for the USA, majored in Biology and Philosophy, got a Ph. D in biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and in 2015 started a lab at the University of Michigan where I also teach genetics and neuroepigenetics. My favorite things in life are dogs, desserts, philosophy and post-modern literature, pastel colors, fuzzy things, and unicorns.
You speak a language, so you know everything about how language works, right? Wrong! In this talk, Emily covers the Top 10 things most people don’t know about language. In doing so, she dispels several common myths and reveals some fascinating facts about the systems we use every day to communicate with each other. If you’ve ever wondered how many languages there are in the world, why language death is on the rise, where grammar comes from, or how it is that kids learn language so effortlessly – this talk is for you! Or, if you simply find yourself in need of a few high-quality conversation starters for your upcoming work party, this talk will prepare you to explain what exactly the Bilingual Advantage is, why British accents sound smart, how whistled languages work, whether Spanglish is a language, which high-profile court case was a glaring example of linguistic discrimination, and why English spelling is such a mess.
About Emily Rae Sabo:
By day, I’m a researcher and PhD student of Linguistics at The University of Michigan. By night, I’m a local standup comedian at dive bars near you. In my work as a linguist, I compare how monolingual and bilingual listeners respond to various types of lexical ambiguity and speech errors in order to investigate the cognitive mechanisms that underlie language processing as well as the social priming that modulates how people perceive Spanish-accented English in the U.S. today.