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Nerd Nite in Vancouver: Bones and beer

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It was my first Nerd Nite. I was attracted by the subject, Forensic Anthropology. I guess I am a nerd because I took college anthro classes when I didn't have to. And, besides, Nerd Night was billed as both entertainment and learning.

Dr. Veronica “Nici” Vance from the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory talked about how skeletal remains are found, how bones are analyzed, and how victims can be identified, all illustrated with a powerpoint presentation.

Sounds rather dry, doesn't it? But this lecture was different. The venue was the historic Kiggins Theater on Vancouver's Main Street. And Nici had a sense of humor. She dispelled rumors that forensic anthropologists are like their TV counterparts. She encouraged the audience to "drink" each time she said the word, "bone." You see, beer is sold on upstairs at Kiggins, a great pairing for your pop corn or gourmet hot dog.

Nerd Nights are a lecture series where the audience has fun with their learning. There are no tests, although pre-program slides take you through science trivia.

And you will learn. I came away with exactly what Dr. Nici wanted us to remember. There is a national data base for both unidentified remains and for missing people. It is an attempt to match the two, identify the remains and give some closure to family and friends. Anyone can list their missing friend or family member in the data base. You can find the site at

Nerd Nite events can be found in both Portland and Vancouver. And, they aren't just lectures. An upcoming event is a behind the scenes tour of the Oregon Zoo.

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