Nerd Nite!

Hi all. I just want to say how proud I am of myself for having a super successful Nerd Nite talk on Tuesday. I am going to toot my own horn. It was great. People were engaged. People asked thoughtful questions. And, I got applause from answering those questions thoughtfully. I am so pleased.

As I wrote before, I really forced myself to go through a clear, detailed planning process. It paid off. I promise you that the work is worth it. Starting from scratch, even if you’ve done it before, is fully worth it.

I wanted to share my slide deck (pdf). It makes no sense without me talking over it, however, I would be happy to talk you through it. I’m also proud of how beautiful it is. Mega credits to my incomparable Beaty Museum team for the photos, which are available to all through a creative commons license.


If anyone knows how to embed a pdf or google slides directly in wordpress, it would be much appreciated.


Presenting to semi-drunk audiences

So, I said I would post about nerd nite, and here it is. Super delayed, super excuses – yadda, yadda.

Anyway, nerd nite was a great experience for me. I have attended all five Vancouver nites, and have loved every one of them.

To be fair, I was very nervous for this occasion. Speaking in front of a new audience who paid to listen to me speak, or came specifically for the “plant sex” talk, is a new experience for me. I also had the added pressure of presenting for one of my best friends (and well-respected science woman), and alongside a science communicator I really look up to.

As a speaker, it was interesting to say the least. Having everyone in your audience be semi-drunk, semi-uninterested, and semi-know-it-all, its rather unpredictable. My topic – “The Seedy Side of Plants” was filled with sex. And pervy jokes. As someone who loves communicating science, this was an outstanding opportunity to try out my 19+ jokes on an audience who would actually laugh at them! I was really happy with how my talk went, and how engaged the audience was. I made some friends, had many good laughs, and feel totally embraced in the Vancouver nerd scene.

As an audience member, the format is very inviting. The talks are short, tickets are cheap, the beer is flowing, and the topics are varied. It is a great way to be exposed to other nerdy topics, as most people come for one speaker, and stay for the other two. It’s also great to meet people in your field, or who share the same interest as you. Conveniently, its a 10-minute walk from my house, so that helps.

Watching people walk by the cafe, and poke their heads in the window to check out speakers during the summer was really something special. Nerds are everywhere, and even if you aren’t a nerd, listening to nerds talk about what they love while consuming balsamaceous beverages is always enjoyable.

If you are in Vancouver, I would highly recommend going to the next talk in September. If not, check out the Nerd Nite global page for a list of the cities this event runs in.

Speaking on Wednesday, April 16

Speaking on Wednesday, April 16

I hope you can come and check out my talk!

Let’s talk about sex – plant sex! Compared to the world of seed plants, human sex lives are relatively “vanilla”. Sessile, and separated by metres or miles, plant partners usually need assistance to reproduce sexually. This dependence on external collaborators has created extraordinary reproductive strategies including sensory trickery towards animals, releasing pollen en masse (how messy!), and even the frustratingly lonely self-fertilization. Over thousands and millions of years, these strategies have evolved, ensuring species resilience, genetic diversity, and survival in dramatically challenging landscapes. Discover how plants manipulate, trick, and use tools to help in the need to create seeds.

Bio: Nicole Balsdon currently works at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC; she loves spreading her passion for science to people of all ages, particularly the messy world of biology. When she isn’t getting strangely close to plants, she enjoys cooking and baking, most notably convincing yeast and other microbes to work on beverages and breads in her kitchen. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, and has worked for Alberta Environment and the U of A Herbarium.