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  Meet the Nerds  

What is the Nerd Brigade?

We're a group of nerds with diverse backgrounds in science and science communication who believe in the power of wonder. Science is all around us, and we think that the first steps towards understanding the universe are asking questions and having fun. We organize events devoted to outreach and education, because it's never too late to learn about our place in the cosmos.

Holly Bender is an optical engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), having received her MS and BS in Optics from the University of Rochester in New York. Her work at JPL focuses primarily on the development of imaging spectrometers, which use spectra from reflected sunlight to provide critical information on the Earth's ecosystems. Specifically, Holly works on the optical design of these instruments and has developed various new techniques in alignment and characterization. When not busy splitting light into rainbows, she enjoys singing jazz and performing musical theater. Holly is lead singer of the Verdugo Swing Society (official Big Band of Glendale, California), and a vocalist with JPL's very own Jazz Propulsion Band.
Twitter: @hollyaprilb

Dr. Crystal Dilworth received her PhD in Chemistry from Caltech, where she studied the molecular basis for nicotine dependence. She now works as a science communicator on the Al Jazeera America network as a contributor for the TV show TechKnow. Additionally, she has hosted the video series Fail Lab for the Discovery Digital Network, and is a co-founder of PHDtv. Dr. Dilworth is also a former professional dancer trained at the prestigious Ailey School in New York City, and a professional choreographer. Through her work, she hopes to challenge the narrow stereotypes surrounding science and scientists, improve diversity within STEM fields, and chip away the walls of the academic ivory tower to revel science as a dynamic and exciting process, and scientists as human, multifaceted, and cool.
Twitter: @PolycrystalhD

Dr. Jason G. Goldman is a cognitive scientist, animal behavior researcher, and science writer based in Los Angeles. He started his scientific adventure by seeing what happens to birds when they grow up in virtual reality. Now he spends his time writing about other people's research in animal behavior, wildlife biology, ecology, conservation, and veterinary medicine. He contributes to Scientific American, BBC Future, Conservation Magazine, io9, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. He was editor of The Open Laboratory 2010: The Best of Science Writing on the Web (Lulu) and is co-editor of The Complete Guide to Science Blogging (Yale University Press), due out in 2015. He's completely obsessed with spectacled bears and has been called a raccoon avenger.
Twitter: @jgold85

Kyle Hill is a science writer and communicator based in Los Angeles, California. He received his bachelors of science in civil and environmental engineering from Marquette University, and his masters of arts in communication from the same university in 2013. In 2013, he started writing for Scientific American, finding a niche in the intersection of science and pop culture. Since then, his nerdy work has been published in WIRED, Popular Science, Slate, and The Boston Globe, he has appeared as an expert on Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and Huffington Post Live, held writing positions at Nature Education and Discover Magazine, and has worked as a TV science correspondent for Al Jazeera America. In 2013, he was named one of the 20 science communicators to follow by WIRED magazine. His goal as a science communicator is to use popular culture to teach science in a fun and digestible way.
Twitter: @Sci_Phile

Dr. Derek Muller is a science communicator, filmmaker and television presenter. He is best known for creating Veritasium, a science YouTube channel with 3M subscribers and 200M views. Veritasium covers topics ranging from the magnus effect to 3D printing, the scale of the universe and climate science. Derek graduated from Queen's University with a B.Sc in Engineering Physics in 2004 and completed a PhD in physics education research from the University of Sydney in 2008. His thesis, "Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education," was the subject of his TED@Sydney talk in 2012. Derek has been featured on TV hosting the ABC's program Catalyst, and he has appeared on the BBC, Discovery, and the History Channel. He recently released a documentary on PBS about radiation and how uranium has shaped the modern world from atomic bombs to Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Twitter: @veritasium

Christina Ochoa was born in Barcelona. She is the grandniece of Nobel Prize winner Severo Ochoa and daughter of Spanish Sculptor Victor Ochoa. She spent her childhood between Madrid, Barcelona, and Miami. She went on to study Oceanographic Engineering in Las Palmas University in the Canary Islands. After, she continued Advanced Marine Biology in James Cook University in Australia. She is currently studying Physics in the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (UNED) and balances her acting jobs between Los Angeles and Spain. Additionally, she finds time to host monthly Science Soirees, eat enough for four people, date a legit Viking man, and co-found a group of sci-enthusiastic actresses called the Scirens.
Twitter: @christina_ochoa

Aaron Pomerantz is the creator and host of "The Next Gen Scientist". Aaron has a Bachelor of Science degree in Entomology from the University of California Riverside and a Master of Science degree in Entomology and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida. He is currently a Science Reporter for Rainforest Expeditions, which involves traveling to the Peruvian Amazon to share stories about scientific research, wildlife, and discoveries. His motto: "The coolest discoveries are the ones you make"
Twitter: @AaronPomerantz

Dr. Meg Rosenburg holds a Ph.D. in planetary science from the California Institute of Technology, with additional specialization in the history of science. She studies impact craters on the Moon and Earth, their contribution to planetary topography, how they have been interpreted historically, and what they tell us about our own planet's violent past. Dr. Rosenburg is also an accomplished science communicator, co-founder of PHDtv, and producer of The PHD Movie in collaboration with PHD Comics. She has a passion for effective communication of scientific concepts through storytelling and digital media, and hopes to expand public understanding of science by connecting historians and scientists to broader audiences.
Twitter: @trueanomalies

Cara Santa Maria has dedicated her life to improving science literacy by communicating scientific principles across media platforms. Her published research has spanned various topics, including clinical psychological assessment, the neuropsychology of blindness, neuronal cell culture techniques, and computational neurophysiology. Her diet consists almost entirely of noodles in broth and meat-not-fish, because fish is gross. Cara previously worked as a co-host and producer on the Pivot TV nightly live television show, "TakePart Live." Before that, she was the senior science correspondent for The Huffington Post and co-starred in "Hacking The Planet" and "The Truth About Twisters" on The Weather Channel. She has made appearances on CNN, Fox News, TLC, Current TV, BBC America, G4, SundanceTV, Travel Channel, and Nat Geo WILD. Cara currently hosts a weekly science podcast called "Talk Nerdy." She is also a regular contributor to "TechKnow" on Al Jazeera America and "SoCal Connected" on KCET.
Twitter: @CaraSantaMaria

Phil Torres is a rainforest biologist turned science television host who has appeared on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and now hosts a science innovation show called "TechKnow" on Al Jazeera America. His research has taken him around the world discovering new species and he recently spent two years running research, conservation, and education projects out of the Amazon Rainforest of Peru and Ecuador. His discoveries have been featured in BBC, National Geographic, Wired, CNN, and more as he uncovers the secrets of the more under-appreciated groups of organisms like spiders, butterflies, and beetles. His motto? Only tough guys catch butterflies.
Twitter: @phil_torres

Dr. Teagan Wall received her PhD in Computation and Neural Systems from Caltech where she studied the behavioral neuropharmacology of nicotinic compounds in the Lester Lab. She also has degrees in Behavioral and Social Neuroscience, Political Science, Economics, and Mathematics, during which she assisted with research in economic history, game theory, cognitive psychology, and neurobiology. Dr. Wall now works as a researcher for a financial firm and in science communication, focusing primarily on decision neuroscience and behavioral sciences. She's passionate about educating the public on the mechanisms and inherent biases in decision making, and has addressed this topic on the podcasts "Talk Nerdy" and "Know Brainer", on her blog on Huffington Post, and in her TedXYouth talk in May 2015.
Twitter: @TeagWall

Alie Ward was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Passionate about science and art, she enrolled in UC Santa Barbara studying both animal biology & film, then obtained her degree from SF State University's film program, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Since then, she has hosted numerous television programs, including work as a science correspondent on the upcoming CBS kids' show Innovation Nation and as a host for Cooking Channel. She's spent several years in print and on-air journalism, reported as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and appeared as a contributor for LA-area broadcast station KTLA. She volunteers one day a week at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, has a comedy podcast called "Slumber Party with Alie & Georgia" and is obsessed, in particular, with bugs.
Twitter: @alieward

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