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BAHFest Houston 2020

BAHFest is a celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theory. Our brave speakers present their bad theories in front of a live audience and a panel of judges with real science credentials, who together determine who takes home the coveted BAHFest trophy. And eternal glory, of course.

Come join us on Sunday, March 8, 2020 at Rice University. Show will start at 7PM and run until 8:30PM. Doors open at 6:30PM.

BAHFest Houston is brought to you by BAHFest, and the graduate students in Rice University’s BioSciences Department. You do not need to be associated with Rice University to participate in or attend the event

Host and Keynote

Kelly Weinersmith

Kelly Weinersmith

Host

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith is an adjunct assistant professor in the BioSciences Department at Rice University. Kelly studies parasites that manipulate host behavior, and is currently leaning towards not using what the parasites have taught her for evil purposes. She is co-author of the NYTimes Bestseller “Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything”.

Phil Plait

Phil Plait

Keynote

Dr. Phil Plait is an astronomer, author, and self-proclaimed science evangelizer. He writes about space, astronomy, and science on his acclaimed Bad Astronomy Blog, hosted at SYFY.com. He has written three books: “Bad Astronomy”, “Death from the Skies!”, and “2^7 Nerd Disses: A Significant Quantity of Disrespect” — that last one with Zach Weinersmith, which of course has nothing to do with nepotistically being chosen as a speaker and judge for BAHFest. Plait was the head science writer for the first season of “Bill Nye Saves the World” on Netflix, and has consulted on TV shows and movies including “Salvation”, “Arrival”, and a movie he can’t talk about yet but will soon. He makes puns and posts pictures of his goats on Twitter as @BadAstronomer, and has a newsletter he plugs in every bio: BadAstronomy.substack.com.

Judges

Carrie Masiello

Carrie Masiello

Judge

Masiello is a professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she is also joint faculty in Biosciences and in Chemistry. She is a biogeochemist and geobiologist interested in developing new tools to understand the processes that control carbon, nitrogen, and water fluxes through the Earth system.  Theoretical aspects of her research include development of new tools to measure physical and chemical properties of the Earth, as well as applications of synthetic biology to Earth system questions.  Her applied research uses these tools to understand biogeochemical processes relevant to climate, water, and agriculture.

Masiello received a B.A. in mathematics and physics from Earlham College in 1991, an M.S. in environmental science and engineering from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1993, an MS in physical chemistry in 1996 from the University of California, Irvine, and a PhD in Earth System Science from UCI in 1999. Her postdoctoral work occurred at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at LLNL and as a AAUW fellow co-advised at UC Santa Barbara and California Institute of Technology.  In 2017 she was made a fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Douglas Natelson

Douglas Natelson

Judge

Douglas Natelson is chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, with courtesy appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Nanoengineering.  His research interests focus on condensed matter physics at the nanoscale, including molecular-scale junctions, plasmonics, noise in the flow of charge and spin, and nanodevices for the study of strongly correlated electronic materials.  A recurring theme is the use of nanoscale structures to address open questions in condensed matter physics. 

After spending a BSE in mechanical and aerospace engineering (1993, Princeton), Prof. Natelson turned toward or away from the Dark Side (depending on who you ask) and earned a PhD in experimental condensed matter physics from Stanford in 1998.  He arrived at Rice University in 2000 following a postdoctoral appointment at Bell Laboratories.  Prof. Natelson is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He is the author of the textbook Nanostructures and Nanotechnology, published in June, 2015 by Cambridge University Press. Prof. Natelson also has a long-standing interest in communicating science to a broader audience, and since 2005 has been writing the blog Nanoscale Views (nanoscale.blogspot.com).  

Nidal Moukaddam

Nidal Moukaddam

Judge

Nidal Moukaddam, Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, is active clinically and specializes in challenging adult populations: she practices emergency psychiatry at Ben Taub Hospital, a level 1 trauma center in Houston, Texas, and runs the adult outpatient psychiatry clinics at Ben Taub Hospital. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and her Medical degree from the American University in Beirut and completed her psychiatry residency and PhD in clinical sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch- Galveston.

Research interest focus on how psychiatry can benefit from technological advances for detection, tracking, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. In collaboration with Rice ECE, she has studied the design and implementation of smartphone applications for depression across the age spectrum, and to enhance wellness and combat burnout in physicians. The result of this ongoing collaboration is an open, fee-free, dynamic platform for academic collaboration, Healthsense, that is now available for researchers wishing to engage in sensor-based measurements in their studies. She is also the Harris center site Investigator for The Mcnair Initiative for neuroscience Discovery (MIND-2), aiming to use a combination of biobehavioral sensing and functional imaging to enhance our ability to assess and quantify impulsivity in mood disorders and addiction.

Contestants 

Celeste Labedz

Celeste Labedz

Contestant

Celeste Labedz is a PhD student in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology, where she researches seismic signals produced by glaciers. When she’s not analyzing data at Caltech or deploying seismometers in the wilds of Alaska, Celeste can be found doing science outreach at local schools, making excessive science puns on Twitter, and asking her friends and family to send her pictures of their cats.

Pedro Brandão-Dias F Pinto

Pedro Brandão-Dias F Pinto

Contestant

Pedro is a Biologist graduated from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Currently, he is a phD Student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Egan Lab at Rice University, Texas. His research comprises genomics, environmental DNA, and environmental proteins applied to human impacts in aquatic ecosystems.

Kutub Gandhi

Kutub Gandhi

Contestant

Kutub Gandhi is a senior CS major and Houston native, though he is soon leaving town for a PhD in social computing. In his spare time he enjoys rock climbing, theater, and pretending he is funny.
Nicholas Schaefer

Nicholas Schaefer

Contestant

Nicholas Schaefer is originally from Norwalk, Connecticut. He works for a traveling dinosaur show called Jurassic Quest for where he curates and manages the fossil collection and creates educational material. He has a background in Cultural Resource Management from Norwalk Community College. At the age of 5, he was somehow annoying enough to persuade his otherwise frugal parents to take him to see Jurassic Park in theaters no less than 3 times. They have come to regret that decision ever since.
Jerry Wang

Jerry Wang

Contestant

Jerry Wang is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. After spending a BS in Mathematics & Physics (2013, Yale), Jerry turned toward or away from the Dark Side (depending on who you ask) and earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Computation from MIT in 2019. He will have arrived at Rice University by March 8, 2020. Jerry is a loyal dues-paying member of the American Physical Society, the recipient of a prestigious fridge magnet from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a proud owner of the textbook Nanostructures and Nanotechnology authored by BAHFest Houston 2020 judge Prof. Douglas Natelson. To avoid any appearance of financial conflict of interest, Jerry would like to clarify that he obtained this book before partaking in BAHFest MIT 2017, 2018, and 2019.

In his spare time, Jerry enjoys doing the exact same things as during his work time: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Charlotte Hovland

Charlotte Hovland

Contestant

Charlotte Hovland is a lab technician in the Saltz Lab at Rice University. She holds a bachelors of science in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago. Since her arrival in Houston, her new passion project is sampling varieties of chili-lime flavored snack foods.