Nerd Nite Winona #36: Craters, Returning to the Moon, and Butts in Art!

It’s time for another Winona Nerd Nite, this time on Wednesday April 24 at No Name Bar, starting at 7:30pm!

Our speakers for Nerd Nite #36 are…

TALK #1: “An Overview of NASA’s Artemis Program to Return Humans to the Moon” by Ben Herbert

NASA is sending people back to the Moon in a few years! If that last sentence was surprising to you, or questions like “why?” or “how?” or “no really, why?” came to mind after hearing it, then this talk is for you. We will go over the Artemis program at a high level, including its rationale, the mission architecture, the spacecraft involved, the known program timeline, and NASA’s plans for the future.

Ben Herbert is a Space Systems Engineer and veritable space nerd. He works from his home in Winona helping design spacecraft for companies including Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. He has worked on various parts of what is now the Artemis program going back as far as 2007 and has spent the majority of his career focused on human spaceflight. When his head isn’t in orbit, he sings with the Winona Community Chorale and enjoys more Earth-bound pleasures like hiking and camping with his wife and reluctant toddler.

TALK #2: “Going Ballistic!: Making Impact Craters in the Laboratory” by Jennifer Anderson

Description: Impact cratering shapes the surfaces of every planet in the Solar System, although we are protected here on Earth (to a certain extent) by our atmosphere. How do scientists study such a dangerous and rare process? We use Big Guns at NASA Centers to Blow Holes in Things and we study what happens with Cameras and Lasers!! Join me to learn more about the physics and formation of impact craters.

Jennifer Anderson is a Planetary Geologist and Professor at Winona State University and has been an astronomy nerd since she was a small kid. She told her 5th grade science teacher Mrs. Erdman that she wanted to be an astronomy professor, she was in the Young Astronauts Club in middle school, and she built her first telescope when she was 12. As an employed adult-nerd, she has continued all of these passions teaching astronomy and geoscience at WSU, doing astronomy outreach in the region, raising two young space nerds, and telling anyone who will listen to her about how incredible our Universe and planet are!

TALK #3: “mASSterpieces: Art History as Told by Butts” by Ellen Titus

Throughout the ages, muses have whispered into the ears of creators. To the benefit of those of us alive today, some muses of the past whispered ‘fine ass’ into the ears of gifted artisans. In this talk we will take a somewhat lingering look at a few notable behinds in art. We will explore their creation and the movements they were a part of, butt also cover how some masterpieces were not always appreciated through history.

After earning degrees in both studio art and biology in 2015, Ellen Titus elected to avoid the life of a starving artist and instead professionally pursued biological research. She now studies wildlife and habitat management for a nature non-profit with an office in Winona. Ellen’s main (unpaid) contribution to the field of art since graduating is giving talks on the niche topics of art and art history to friends and family- mostly so that they can spread this knowledge at dinner parties and correctly answer questions at bar trivia. Ellen paints, sews, gardens, and hikes when not thinking about other artists’ work.

Nerd Nite Winona #35: Crop Art, ASL, and K9

Join us at No Name Bar on Wednesday, March 27 at 7:30pm for another great Nerd Nite – number #35! Our speakers:

Talk #1 – Paws Up: Intriguing Tails of a Sheriff’s K9 Career by Dave Potts
The audience will learn about police K9 officers, including their training, their work, and true life ‘tails’ of a K9 recognized as a top dog in the state and nation. While he did not work in the Winona area, this K9 had a close connection with Winona. Don’t miss this ‘pawsitively’ captivating presentation.

Retired Sheriff’s Sergeant Dave Potts, who also has a special connection to Winona, worked in law enforcement for 30 years. During his years as a patrol deputy, he also served as a field training officer, and SWAT team member. After his promotion to Sergeant, he served as the Department Training Coordinator, Contract Supervisor, Patrol Support Supervisor, and finished his career as a Patrol Sergeant. He was a K9 handler for 7 years and always considers those years to be the best of his career.

Talk #2 – Sign Have Parts by Paul Schollmeier
A very very short lesson on the phonology of American Sign Language (ASL). We will learn the basic parts of ASL and how it is language.

Paul Schollmeier is nerdy about ASL having been trained at St Paul College to be an Interpreter for the Deaf in the mid 90s. He worked as an Interpreter for the Deaf for 12 years primarily in classrooms until 2007.

Talk #3 – The Corn Identity: Minnesota’s Love of Crop Art by Aurora Jacobsen
Visiting the Crop Art Exhibit has always been a popular part of the Minnesota State Fair, but in the past few years, interest has exploded. Minnesotans’ obsession with this particular art form deserves a closer look, including the controversies you don’t see just walking by with a beer.

Aurora Jacobsen has had a long career in librarianship and only a little time as a Crop Artist. She is still learning from a group of strong, influential Crop Artist women she admires greatly.

Nerd Nite Winona #34: Drumlines, Housing & Carbon Credits

Coming to No Name Bar on Wednesday, February 28th is Nerd Nite #34. Join us at 7:30 PM to learn from our speakers:

Talk #1 – Little Warriors Drumline by Andre Bailey
Since 2019, Little Warriors Drumline has been a free activity in Winona that brings kids together with music. The group started out practicing on Menards buckets but has now grown to almost 100 members aged 6-17 who perform over 50 times per year at events like Steamboat Days, Midwest Music Fest, and Game Day Experience at Winona State. Come hear more about this amazing group from founder Andre Bailey!

Andre Bailey is one of the founders and instructors of Little Warriors Drumline. He and his wife, co-founder Tara Bailey, received the 2023 John A. Latsch award from Winona’s Human Rights Commission. The award honors organizations that have helped “reduce barriers to persons of protected classes and have fought discrimination…”.

Talk #2 – “It’s Not the Island’s Fault!” How to solve Winona’s Housing Crisis by Dan Wilson
Winona County just finished a comprehensive housing study outlining how bad our current housing market is and the steps we can take to fix it. In his talk, Dan Wilson will summarize the results of the housing study, national trends, and proven policy ideas that can transform Winona from an unaffordable hot mess to a vibrant, affordable community for everyone.

Dan Wilson works as a Policy Assistant at Engage Winona and has been researching Winona’s housing woes for the past year. He has provided emergency housing services in Winona and elsewhere. He enjoys Winona housing gossip and beer.

Talk #3 – Carbon, Capitalism, and Natural Climate Solutions by David Ruff
This talk will give a quick explanation of what carbon credits are and how they work, then explain some of the main issues that have caused them to be controversial as a strategy for fighting climate change. It will then look specifically at how forest management can be changed to store more carbon and generate carbon credits. In the end, it will look at how the controversial aspects of forest-based carbon credits can be addressed and what the debate around their use is really about.

David Ruff is a native Winonan, and a Conservation Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy. He gets to spend his days working to protect and restore habitat for nature and people in Minnesota’s corner of the Driftless Area, which still involves a surprising amount of time on Zoom. He also works on the Midwest region of the Family Forest Carbon Program, a partnership between TNC and the American Forest Foundation that brings the resources of the voluntary carbon market to family forest owners.

Events are free and RSVP is not required. More details on our Nerd Nite Winona event page.

Nerd Nite Winona #33: Astro-ganza! (3 Astronomy Talks)

Missed out on the “Astro-ganza”? Check out our live recording!

Come learn from three local astronomers at Nerd Nite Winona’s first event of 2024! Our “Astro-ganza” will be Wednesday, January 24th starting at 7:30p at No Name Bar. As always, there is no cover or tickets required for our events. Find out more on our Facebook event page.

Our speakers are:

Nerd Nite Winona #32: Morels, Engagement & Music!

Join us at No Name Bar on Wednesday, November 29 at 7:30pm for Winona’s Nerd Nite #32! Our speakers:

Talk # 1 – Morel Mushrooms: Sterol Composition and other Fun Facts by Tom Nalli

Morel mushrooms are highly valued for their utter deliciousness and, as an avid mycophile, I have a long-nurtured interest in them. All fungi have steroid alcohols (sterols) in their cell membranes that serve many of the same functions that cholesterol serves in animal cells. For most fungi, ergosterol is predominant; however, morels are more interesting. I and some of my research students at WSU have studied the sterol composition of morels using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and our results will be presented in this talk. I will also share some personal stories of my long history with them.

Dr. Tom Nalli is a Professor at Winona State University where he mainly teaches organic chemistry. His position has afforded him the great privilege of being able to work with a good number of talented undergrads over the years on a variety of research projects. In addition to his interests in chemistry, mushrooms, and adult beverages, he is an avid birder and plays trombone in a number of local bands.

Talk #2 – Engagement is for Everyone by Marcia Ratliff

Come learn about local nonprofit Engage Winona, with a deeper dive into the theory beneath its community engagement and capacity building work. From participatory research to appreciative inquiry to social capital to systems change, there are plenty of five-dollar words to describe what Engage Winona does, and we love an opportunity to unpack them a bit!

Marcia Ratliff (also known as Marcie) is the executive director of Engage Winona. She’s also a poet, runner, badass mama, and lifelong daydreamer.

Talk #3 – 21st Century Music Literacy

Music has changed a lot in a hundred years, approaches to music literacy have not. Communities in our culturally diverse, digitally connected world would be strengthened with an approach built around the music practiced in those communities. If music literacy were to borrow ideas from language and math literacy, we would have a population much more prepared to negotiate today’s musical landscape.

Aaron Lohmeyer teaches Music Education, Jazz, Music Tech, Global Music, and Guitar at Winona State University. His research focuses on creativity and diverse music literacies for a digitally connected world. He also takes the recorder way too seriously.

Events are free and RSVP is not required. More details on our Nerd Nite Winona event page.

Nerd Nite Winona #31: Infinity, Bacteriophages, Mystery Cults

TALK #1: “Infinity’s Grace Beyond Compare” by Joyati Debnath
Summary: Infinity is mindboggling! It is just NOT finite but a tremendously useful and inherently theoretical. And there are lots and lots of different infinities that corrupt our minds. Is there a Countable Infinity and an Uncountable Infinity? I will try to demonstrate and communicate what inspired great controversies and rage for centuries in 20 minutes or so to a slightly under the influence but reasonably merciful audience.
Bio: Dr. Joyati Debnath is a professor of Mathematics at Winona State University. She is an Applied Mathematician, and her research and teaching has taken her all over the world. She has devoted her career not only to make marks as an academician but also to make mathematics a fun learning experience with more understanding and approachable for everyone.

TALK #2: “How Sewage Could Save Your Life” by Darby Oldenburg
We collect and study bacteriophages in our lab at Gundersen Medical Foundation. Our mission is to have phage cocktails on hand to treat recalcitrant (aka antibiotic resistant) bacterial infections under the auspices of Personalized Medicine. We will discuss the history of Phage Therapy and how recent advances in biotechnology make this old-but-new approach viable as another tool against bacterial infection.
Bio: Dr. Darby Oldenburg PhD joined Gundersen Medical Foundation in 2010 to study Herpesviruses and how latent infections shape the host immune system. After a brief hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, she returned to the bench to continue her Herpesvirus work as well as begin a new research endeavor studying bacteriophages.

TALK #3: “Ancient Roman Mystery Cults: Bringing the Kegger to the Cave” by Kayla Olson
Did people in ancient Rome also gather in the thick of night to drink, laugh, and participate in strange rituals like a bunch of nerds? Yes! And few are more dedicated to all that is raucous, eccentric, and astrological than the initiates of “mystery cults.” We’ll look into the uniquities of a couple “mysteria,” whose secrets were known to few… kind of. Archaeologists are nosey and stubborn folk, after all.
Bio: Kayla Olson (MA, MLIS) is an academic librarian at Winona State University. She has the pleasure of working with faculty and students as the library liaison to History, Philosophy, Ethnic Studies, Women Gender & Sexuality Studies, Special Education, and Marketing. Before becoming a librarian, she trained as a classical archaeologist with research interests in the mid-and-late Roman Empire, spatial analysis, and cultural memory

More pictures from the event are on our Facebook events page.