Nerd Nights

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As a part of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education mission, we have teamed up with UTEP’s Centennial Museum to bring a new event to the Border Region – Nerd Nights.  Nerd Nights is a series of informative evening events designed to bring fun scientific talks and activities to your favorite local brewery, restaurant, coffee shop, or any other community hub.  We will host a different Nerd Night at a different local establishment on a monthly basis.


Why Nerd Nights?  We launched Nerd Nights because we wanted to find an entertaining way to learn something new while sharing good food and drink with new friends.

Introducing our Next Nerd Night:

Ants are Awesome!

Friday, May 29th at 6:00 pm (MST)

Tiny Tunnels: Big Connections…

Did you know that there are whole kingdoms (more like “queen”-doms) beneath our feet?  There are an estimated ten thousand trillion ants worldwide, and they weigh roughly the same as all of humanity.  Ants are much more than a picnic pest, they often symbolize hard workers and farmers. Ants are the engineers of the natural world, with their tiny size they can cause gigantic changes in their environments. As they go undetected keeping ecosystems healthy, their interactions with other organisms “range from cooperative to hostile and from brief to life-long relationships.” Join our next virtual Nerd Night to explore the amazing world of ants.  This special virtual Nerd Night will also feature the Tiny Tunnels, Big Connections exhibit at the at the UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.


About our Speakers:

  • Dr. Shawn Dash (Entomologist) – Ants, The Rulers Under Your Feet – Shawn T. Dash is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. He has studied myrmecology (the study of ants) for over 20 years, and focuses on understanding the role ants and other arthropods play in ecosystem form and function, especially in urban habitats. He is captivated by the fields of ornithology, herpetology, mammalogy, evolutionary biology, and of course anything to do with invertebrates. 


  • Dr. Vicky Zhuang (Collections Manager) – The Ants Go Digital: Bringing the Mackay Ant Collection Online – Vicky Zhuang is the Collections Manager at the UTEP Biodiversity Collections where she coordinates volunteers and faculty to take care of and promote the use of over 500,000 specimens of animals, plants, fossils and insects for research and education. Before coming to El Paso, Vicky worked with several collections as a curatorial assistant for herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley, California and as a graduate student of functional anatomy. Her research focused on understanding how gecko foot anatomy has evolved with the acquisition of a dry adhesive system.


  • Rob Burgess, M.S. (Naturalist) – Ant-Loving Beetles – Rob Burgess grew up in Buffalo, NY and later worked as a physicist on a government contract studying radiation exposure at former nuclear weapons facilities. He has a Bachelor’s in physics, and a Master’s in biology, both from the University of Miami. He studied modeling ant behavior using neural networks and cellular automata. He is an enthusiastic beetle collector, focusing on beetles that live with ants, and is an affiliate in Dr. Mackay’s entomology lab at UTEP.

During the event we will also feature a BINGO Scavenger Hunt and a Birthday Database game.

Where:  Your House via Zoom Pro

(a Zoom Pro event link will be shared with you via email. Please do not share this link)

Still have questions about Nerd Nights? Please read our Nerd Night FAQ’s.


How to RSVP:

Please RSVP via the Eventbrite link:

Tickets to Nerd Night: Ants are Awesome may be purchased on Eventbrite:

Nerd Nights unites our community with a celebration of Science!


Stay tuned for our next Nerd Night…they happen every month.



Night Sponsor Hall of Fame

Nerd Night #27 sponsored by:




Wine, liquor, and beer. Straight to your door.

Nerd Night #24 sponsored by:

Wine Attitude is not your usual bar.  They feature great conversation, happy hour, live music, and select only the finest wines from around the world and bring them here for your enjoyment.   Be sure to check out Wine Attitude’s new location on Mesa.


Nerd Night #20 sponsored by:


Nerd Night #18 sponsored by:

Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group at the vanguard of a new industry, pioneering the next generation of reusable space vehicles. Virgin aims to transform the current cost, safety and environmental impact of space-launch.  In doing so they are helping to create a basic space access infrastructure that will act as an enabler for scientists and entrepreneurs.  It will also provide the catalyst for a new age of space exploration which promises enormous positive potential for life on Earth.


Nerd Night # 16 Sponsored by

Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution – The TIME group studies the role of shear margin dynamics in the future evolution of Thwaites Drainage Basin.  TIME is an ice-based project using state-of-the-art geophysical techniques to observe rapidly deforming parts of Thwaites Glacier (shear margins) which may have significant control over future stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The TIME project will observe rapidly deforming parts of Thwaites Glacier which may have significant control over the future evolution of WAIS, and use these new observations to improve ice sheet models used to predict future sea level rise.


Check out our Nerd Night Archive


Want to keep Nerd Nights totally free?  We need your help!  Sponsorship from our community of Nerds are what keep these events going strong.  Please let us know if your organization would like to make the next Nerd Night a reality!

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