> Nerd Nite 38

Nerd Nite 38


Are humans predetermined due to their genetics just like plants? Or does the environment molds us? Our first speaker of this Nerd Nite, Klaas Seinhorst, believes that genes cannot be the only answer when looking at the similarities and the evolution of our languages. He will present us a theory which, as it turns out, is working against a deep-rooted genetic idea used by linguists. Our second speaker, José Guerra, is more interested in data processing. With the pursuit of global food provision, he will show us how he can and must limit the immense amount of genomic data to obtain the ideal plants by not only considering biology but also time and money! Join us to discover more… and don’t forget to wear a nerdy T-shirt!

Time flies like an arrow: how the passage of time shapes languages

By Klaas SeinhorstKlaas Seinhorst (photo by Evelien Hogers)

 “Nerd”: noun, “ nerdy”: adjective. These are common things we need to learn for our language class. But have you ever wondered why unrelated languages seem to have a similar grammar structure? Linguists have come up with a theory called “Universal grammar” around the 1950s to explain this. More precisely, it assumes that we are all born with a genetically specified language ability. But what if grammar evolved through necessity? Klaas will talk about such an alternative hypothesis: that the similarities are due to the function of a language (communication) and their limitations, our cognitive capacities.  And it turns out that this hypothesis can even be applied in other fields! Discover more about the evolution of languages with Klaas’ help!

Bio: Klaas Seinhorst always liked learning languages, but somehow decided to study Urban Planning when he went university. He soon saw the error of his ways, and circled back to languages: he got his BA and MA in Linguistics and is now working on his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. In his spare time, he likes to play the piano, explore new places, and do as many escape rooms as humanly possible.

The global demand for food: a data challenge

By Jose Lima Guerra

Image_JGUData, data, data: it’s everywhere! With technology we create new data and find existing data. Did you for example know that the so-called Next-Generation Technology generates an unrivaled explosion in the amount of genomic data? A good thing of course, but also challenging: how to select the best characteristics, also known as features, and at the same time minimize the number of features? Jose Lima Guerra has a passion to solve these challenges by analyzing these endless data sets to find a very efficient feature selection system to identify the minimum amount of information needed. And for a great cause: he will explain how he focuses on optimizing plant crossings to meet our future global food demands in light of the growing population, limited land and global warming. Hungry for more? Come to Nerd Nite and satisfy your hunger!

Bio: Animal breeding, logistic regression, risk estimation, parameter estimation… José Lúcio Lima Guerra has a great passion for statistics. With a long journey in academica in Brazil and USA, his passion in statistic brought him to the Netherlands to be a biostatistician. He is currently a manager at Enza Zaden (EZ), a vegetable-breeding company, that selling the seeds of more than 1,200 vegetable varieties all over the world. He has a very busy and fulfilling life.


Friday 23 November
Doors open at 20:00
First talk at 20:30

at CREA Muziekzaal
Nieuwe Achtergracht 170
1018 WV Amsterdam

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