Nerd Nite SF #134: Sharks, DNA, & Tarot!

Hot nerd summer continues! This time featuring: SHARKS (well, their biology at least. No live sharks will be present, we promise); thinking of DNA as nature’s hard drive; and what can you learn about yourself via the cultural phenomenon that is tarot? ALSO tarot readings will be part of the program from 7:15-7:45! Come early for your chance to see what the cards have to say about you!
NOTE: our “what happens when you only eat algae for a month?” and “why would someone ever do that??” talk has been rescheduled for August 16 at the Rickshaw Stop. More details for that show soon.

Nerd Nite SF


Rickshaw Stop

Doors 7pm, show 8pm

$10 online, $15 door

Tickets here!

Sharks Aren’t Infesting San Francisco Bay, But They Do Live Here! by Meghan Holst

Sharks don’t infest the waters they are in, they just live there! San Francisco Bay, CA is no exception. In fact, one of the highest-ranking apex predators, the broadnose sevengill shark, uses this bay as a place to pup their young. Sevengill sharks are found worldwide but the population along our coastline is the only population where we can consistently find juvenile sevengills in a pupping and nursery ground year-round! That opens a very unique opportunity to study these sharks at the beginning of their lives. So, why is a pupping and nursery ground important, and what are the conservation needs around this unique shark? Join us to find out! 

Meghan Holst is a third-year PhD student at UC Davis in the Graduate Group of Ecology. Meghan has completed a MSc in behavior and physiology of octopuses with an emphasis on how these correlate with welfare. Now she is pursuing a PhD in ecology studying the broadnose sevengill shark in San Francisco Bay. Meghan is equally passionate about conservation science as she is social justice and science communication work. In 2021, Meghan co-founded the 501(c)3 non-profit, Minorities In Aquarium & Zoo Science (MIAZS), and now maintains an executive directorship pursuing the mission to advance aquarium and zoo science by diversifying the professionals and their perspectives within it. Additionally, Meghan co-hosts a science podcast, Sharkpedia, where the primary authors of elasmobranch research are interviewed to communicate their science and strategies to the general public. Meghan intends to continue conducting science, communicating science in fun and interactive ways, and actively working to make the science fields more diverse and inclusive. 

Meghan holds a baby shark in the name of science, not song!


Tarot Me A Story by Ben Grandis (AKA Beneficent Coach)

Tarot cards have commonly been depicted in popular culture as an occult tool for fortune telling. But what if you could harness them to gain deeper insight into your own mind rather than some theoretical future event? By examining the art of Tarot through a psychology lens, learn how the cards can help you tell your life story in new, bold, and exciting ways. From “The Hero’s Journey” to Jungian archetypes to Rorschach tests, let’s explore how tarot is a powerful way of discovering personal intuition and self-understanding.

Ben Grandis is a Professional Life Coach & Tarot Reader who thrives on compassionate curiosity. He specializes in helping folks from all walks of life get clarity on what they want and how to get there. With a professional background ranging from non-profits, major corporations, and startups, he always brings a people-centric approach towards supporting others in their wellness journey. You can connect with Ben at, on Instagram, or by email at .

Come early to experience Ben’s take on what the cards have in store for you!

DNA Data Storage: Using three billion year-old technology to solve a modern dilemma by Brian Bramlett

The generation of digital information has outpaced the growth of storage capacity from early on, and the gap continues to grow exponentially. Meanwhile, no modern technology can store and retrieve data on timescales of more than a couple decades. Nature has evolved its own data storage medium—DNA—could that be the solution? Let’s talk about it!

Brian Bramlett is a Technology Strategist, bringing teams and technologies together to build world-changing platforms. For over 35 years he has worked across a diversity of fields, from Smart Toys to Wearables, and most recently, synergies between semiconductors/computing and synthetic biology.

Brian Bramlett poses with a t-shirt that depicts a DNA molecule with the ACGT sequence depicted as 00 01 11 10
Brian rocks a t-shirt depicting the tried and true ACGT sequence of a DNA molecule, which is so 3 billion years ago. Binary encoding is the new nerd on the block!

We will also be joined by our partners in nerd-dom: the SF Public Library! Get a library card, don some library swag, and find out what cool events the Library is putting on in between thinking and drinking along to our presenters!

Nerd Nite SF #133: Kinky Critters, Sexy Video Games, & Nerdy Law! – sold out!

Nerd Nite, but sexy!

We’re on a small summer vacation from the Rickshaw Stop this month. You can find us soaking up the proverbial sun at Manny’s next Tuesday, June 20. And even if the sun is not out, we are still bringing the nerdy hotness with something for everyone: adventurous presentations on the sex lives of animals, sex and representation in video games, and some climactic Star Trek law scenarios!! We even have an early show time to boot. This goes out to all you nerds out there who wish we started and ended earlier. Time to think and drink at a reasonable time on a Tuesday night!

Tuesday June 20, 2023
(yes, a special Tuesday edition!)
6pm doors, 7-9pm show
Manny’s (3092 16th St)
$10 online (+fees)
Tickets here!

Kinky Critters: The Wild, Bizarre and Sordid sex lives of animals by Guido Nuñez- Mujica

Over the span of 3.7 billion years, life has adapted to many situations, and that has changed the way animals reproduce. Traditional expectations of male-female couplings solely for reproduction are very far from reality for many species, as are expectations of the roles of females and males. Life is far more twisted than we can imagine. A species of clonal lesbians? Check! Golden showers? Check! Blowhole sex? Check! Even Vore?! Check. From lesbian clone lizards to self-sucking squirrels and pegging insects, come and explore the real wild side!

Guido (he/him) is computational biologist and data scientist currently working at The Breakthrough Institute. He’s a TED Fellow, a Cornell Alliance for Science Fellow and does volunteer work about immigration and human rights, LGBT issues. On his spare time you might find him doing science communication, at a South of Market Leather bar, coding for fun, working on his documentary project, learning Hindi or making his urine glow under UV light. You can follow along on Twitter @OSGuido.

Sexuality and Game Design: Undressing the past present and future of sex and representation in the video game industry by Mark Shteller

Over the last decade, video games have become the #1 most profitable form of entertainment, yet in many ways the industry is still going through its teenage years. There’s no other subject this fact is more apparent in than in sexuality. How did we get from questionable pixelated sex acts in Atari games to full blown simulated intercourse in VR? What moral panic resulted from gamifying romance and relationships? Why do developers hide queer content behind the #GayButton? In addition we’ll ride down Rainbow Road and discuss where the game industry is today regarding LGBTQ+ representation.

Mark Shteller is the Creative Director of Neon Death Drop, the first action game to feature an openly gay male lead. Mark has been part of the game industry for the past 10 years as a developer, but always wanted to see his queer self represented in games. This year, with the help of his queer game dev friends, he founded Diamond Dust Games – a game studio with a mission to bring fierce gay sass to mainstream gaming audiences.

Star Trek Law: Not Every Case is the Kobayashi Maru by Joshua Gilliland

The world of Star Trek has presented legal issues in infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Join the attorney Joshua Gilliland on the Away Team to discovery the new world of assumption of risk for Red Shirts, whether Tribbles are an invasive species, if Scotty argue the insanity defense for being possessed by Jack the Ripper, comparative law from Klingons to Cardassians, and more from every Generation of Star Trek.

Joshua Gilliland is a California attorney and an associate at Greenan, Peffer, Sallander & Lally LLP. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks blog and podcast, which has made the ABA Journal as one of the top 100 blogs for lawyers from 2013 to 18 and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh grew up in Silicon Valley and is a graduate of UC Davis with a degree in Political Science and earned his law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. Josh is a lifelong fan of science fiction, from Star Trek to Star Wars, Universal Monsters, Kaiju, and comics. Josh enjoys organizing panels and mock trials at comic conventions, photography, and volunteering in Scouting.
Social Media: @bowtielaw and @thelegalgeeks

NNSF #132 Urine, Minerals, & a Botanical + Legal History of Abortion!

Thursday May 18, 2023
(yes, a special Thursday edition!)
7pm doors, 8pm show
Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell @ Van Ness)
$10 online (+fees) / $12 door
Tickets here!

Have you ever thought to yourself: I wish I could think and drink on a Thursday night instead of a Wednesday night? WELL THEN do we have news for you! Join us for a special Thursday edition of Nerd Nite SF this month

Urine is not sterile: Taking advantage of a golden opportunity by Krystal Thomas-White, PhD
The human microbiome includes all the bacteria that live in and on you. These bugs live in our gut, on our skin, and yes, in your bladder. Even though doctors will tell you, “of course urine is sterile”, the latest research shows us that (just like every other body site) it’s alive with microorganisms. Krystal will tell you the story of this discovery, and what that means for your health.

Krystal has been studying the bladder and vaginal microbiomes in the context of women’s health for over 10 years. She is now the senior scientist at the women’s health start-up Evvy as well as a a dedicated science communicator and scientific advisor for Live UTI Free, a patient advocacy group. You can also find her @KrystalMicrobio.

Chandra’s Abortion: A history of female friendship, plants, and the law in 19th-century colonial India by Tara Kola
Abortion pills have been in the news recently, but long before abortion was a moral dilemma fought over by men in the Supreme Court, and even before then since the invention of the uterus, women have been experimenting with medicine from plants to make choices about their bodies. Hear about the long botanical and legal history of abortion through the short story of Chandra Chashani, a woman who had an abortion in 1849 in colonial India.

We Can’t Mine Metals Without Digging… Or Can We? by Dr. Seaver Wang
In the eyes of many environmentalists, mining is the original environmental sin of industrial-age humanity, far predating more modern concerns like climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, or plastic pollution. At the same time, it is no exaggeration to say that the metals that we mine from the earth have driven tremendous technological progress, vastly improved human well-being, and form the basis for our modern, advanced society today. But what if we could keep all of the societal benefits associated with producing important metals while dramatically reducing the environmental and social risks associated with traditional mining? Newer technologies, including some that are already in widespread use today, have opened the possibility of sourcing metals like lithium, copper, or rare earth elements from non-traditional sources like underground brine or waste materials, without even having to dig a pit or mine shaft. In this talk, Dr. Seaver Wang will explore a number of exciting innovations in metal extraction and recycling that could help support our raw material needs while reducing the environmental costs of the many technologies essential to modern society today.

Nerd Nite SF #131: LOUD, Green, and Leafy!

featuring cannabis, spectrograms, & reclaimed space!

Wednesday April 19, 2023
7pm doors, 8pm show
Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell @ Van Ness)
$10 online (+fees) / $12 door
Tickets here!

The unquiet history of Parcel 36 by Elizabeth Creely, with a performance by Chi
Listen to the unquiet history of Parcel 36, an abandoned railroad track in San Francisco’s Mission District, and an artefact from a time when squatters on unceded Ohlone land settled land disputes with guns, axes and bayonets. John Center and Samuel Crim, two of the largest landowners in the Mission and would-be railroad barons, left a legacy of strife and confusion that continues today. What do you do with a parcel no one owns? Give it back to the community. Friends of the Mission Greenway, together with our neighbours and supporters, are creating a pedestrian greenway and garden to restore the right-of-way to the public. Join us at Nerd Nite as we talk about 19th-century squatters, one ghost, and the future of Parcel 36, one of the last pieces of unowned land in the Mission District.

Elizabeth Creely is a writer, and public historian who lives in San Francisco’s Mission District. She has explored almost every type of environment California has to offer: urban, coastal, riverine, grassland, desert and montane. She works for the Consulate General of Ireland, is occasionally a contributing writer to Mission Local, a bilingual, local independent online news site that covers the Mission District of San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco Department of Memory.

Cannabis Toxicology: The Good, The Bad, and The Risky by Dr. Echo Rufer
(Legal) cannabis is more popular (and available) than ever, but how do you make decisions about healthy use? Is natural safer than synthetic? Does a super high THC concentration actually matter? What was the deal with the “Vapegate” crisis a few years back, and how can you avoid problems like it? FIND OUT from a real, actual cannabis toxicologist and impress your “buds” on 4/20!

Acoustic Detective Work: How to read spectrograms by Dr. Bryn Hauk
Sounds have a fingerprint, and you can learn to read them off a page. You probably know about soundwaves, which show amplitude over time. Add a third dimension – frequency – and you get a spectrogram. We will learn to read these dimensions to identify speech sounds!

Nerd Nite SF #130 Card Math & Sea Shanties! (& Rum!)

Bring your brain, lungs, and liver for this one!

Wednesday March 15, 2023
7pm, Rickshaw Stop
$10 online (+fees) / $12 door
Tickets here!

Mathematics and the Card Game SET with Dr. Catherine Hsu
Come play SET, a fun game of pattern recognition universally loved by mathematicians! Although this game was invented as part of a research project on epilepsy in German Shepherds, SET is closely related to many interesting areas in mathematics. Tonight, we’ll (briefly) introduce some of these math ideas and then explore some variations of the game, including Super Set, Pokemon set, and many more. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this card game… we’ll explain the rules of gameplay at the start!

Secrets of Sea Shanties with Preston Thomas
What *do* you do with a drunken sailor, anyway? If you know what to listen for, sea chanteys are a linguistic time capsule into life aboard ship at the end of the Age of Sail. Let’s crack a few open, see how they worked, and learn why big burly dangerous dudes were singing on the job. From the captain’s daughter to the dreaded ‘stuncil bones,’ we’ll explore how chanteys have survived down to the present day—or not—and how their hidden history is more inclusive than you might think.

See you for rum specials, singing with friends, and playing games! 

Nerd Nite SF #129 The Comeback: Love Never Dies! Lizards, Supernatural fandom, & a Valentine’s Contest!

Wednesday February 15, 2023
7pm, Rickshaw Stop
$10 online (+fees) / $12 door
Tickets here!

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to commemorate the union of Nerd Nite SF and the Rickshaw Stop once again! We really thought our October event would be our last at the Rickshaw, but thanks to the great turnout from nerds like you, dear reader, the venue is giving us another shot at this nerdy matrimony. No, the whole thing was not a ruse or a tease. You really did love us back from the dead! Join us on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at 7pm to celebrate our resurrection and Valentine’s Day (or the end of Valentine’s Day, if you prefer that) with a card-making contest (yes there will be prizes!) and three talks spanning the love lives of lizards and the sexy subtext of Supernatural shipping fandom! Can you feel the nerdy love tonight?? We can!

*Prizes awarded for the punniest, nerdiest, and most anti-Valentine’s categories!


The Love Lives of Lizards with Chelsea Connor

Chelsea Connor (she/they) is tropical biodiversity biologist and herpetologist from the Commonwealth of Dominica. She studies tropical tree dwelling lizards, their ecology and histories! Although she didn’t end up being a comic book artist, Chelsea is still living the struggling creative life interpreting animals as art. You can follow her on Twitter to keep up with her nerdy endeavors, which include guest speaking on the Pokescience podcast!

I Will Go Down With This Ship: What Shipping in Fandom Can Tell Us About Sexuality and Gender in Popular Culture with Kaela Joseph

“You can’t spell subtext without S-E-X,” at least that’s what they say in the TV series, Supernatural. Psychologist and fandom researcher Kaela Joseph will discuss why media fans, specifically Supernatural fans, practice shipping (creating media or discourse that places characters or real people in relationships), and what this participatory practice within fandom can tell us about broader social and political themes about sex and gender in society. 

Kaela Joseph (they/she) is a queer, nonbinary psychologist and fandom researcher. They work in the San Francisco Bay Area as a clinic director, program manager, and clinical supervisor in settings which specialize in women’s and LGBTQ+ health. They are the co-author of the book Fandom Acts of Kindness: A Heroic Guide to Doing Chaotic Good, available through all major book sellers as of January 3rd of this year.