Scientists of the Geek, ... What are you working on?
Lajos
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Hachiouji
Tokyo
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Every now and then a new geeklist asking BGG users about their profession appears. Those lists reveal that quite a few users are involved with scientific research and eduction. Since I'm a rather curious person, I'm always wondering what kind of research all these game-geek-scientists are involved in. The easiest way to find out is to ask. Hence, this geeklist.

So if you're a scientist (someone doing scientific research in whatever kind of field, and of whatever level) then please pick an appropriate game, add it as an item, and explain what you are researching and where.
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76. Board Game: Industrial Waste [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:982]
Lynette
United States
Richland
Washington
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Yep, I am a girl Scientist. Come for the breasts; Stay for the brains!
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My specialty is Rheology, which is the study of material flow.

I work mostly on cleaning up Legacy Nuclear Waste from the Hanford site in Eastern Washington State, USA.

My primary work has been with characterizing the rheological properties of real nuclear waste then developing non-hazardous stimulants to use in large scale equipment testing that may be used for waste treatment.

I have done secondary work on many other projects while working at the National Lab.


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77. Board Game: Diffusion [Average Rating:5.08 Unranked]
Luk
Belgium
Mechelen
n/a
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I'm a chemical engineer, obtained my PhD at the university of Brussels (VUB, Belgium) and work now as a post-doctoral researcher at the univerisity of Paris (UPMC, France).

I am investigating functionalized nanoparticles in dispersion by diffusion-ordered nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (DOSY NMR). This technique allows to study aggregation mechanisms, exchange effects, catalytic processes, among others.

The nanoparticles investigated can be inorganic salts (polyoxometalates), conductors, semiconductors or organic structures like micelles and liposomes. The ligands grafted on the surface (the functionalities) are mostly long organic molecules like fatty acids or polymers.
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78. Board Game: Laser Battle [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:7807]
Sam Butler
United States
Fort Walton Beach
Florida
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I am currently a Masters student in Physics (Laser Optics), and I work for the Air Force, so this game seemed to describe what I do for a living perfectly. Much of my emphasis has been on lasers, with a couple of optics classes sprinkled in for good measure. My thesis (which I really should be working on now instead of spending so much time on the geek!) is calculating collisional transition cross sections (or rates) from first principles in order to gain more of an insight on how to make laser systems perform better. Incidentally, chemists would also be interested in the work, since it is collisions that cause the magic of chemical binding and so on and so forth to occur, and at a certain rate.

So, that means I am studying quantum mechanics, spectroscopy, lasers, and optics. I also have a very strong computational background to perform the calculation.

While I'm at it, I want to wish the laser a Happy 50th Birthday! Few can claim to accomplish as much as the laser has in 50 short years.
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79. Board Game: Crystalmancer [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Kevin C
United Kingdom
York
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My PhD was in computational physics, which I now apply in the field of molecular biology working in a chemistry department.

I write software for X-ray crystallography, which allows us, by indirect means, to image the atoms in biological molecules, and so make pictures like this:


Once you have a picture like that, you can begin to work out how the biology works at a molecular level. Which in turn allows you to design drugs to fix it when it goes wrong.

If Coot or the Fourier Duck mean anything to you, you probably know who I am!
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80. Board Game: Cockroach Poker [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1324]
Christian Krach
Germany
Potsdam
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I got my Dr. rer. nat. for working on the hormone system of insects namely, guess what, on cockroaches, esp. the distribution of receptors within the brain. Right now I changed a little back to my biochemist's roots and am modelling metabolic fluxes.
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81. Board Game: Supremacy: Mega Map [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
Christian Becker
Germany
Hannover
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I am doing a PHD at the Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. My topic is quality assessment of geospatial data. Geospatial data is the pure data maps are made from. It requires a lot of time and money to generate this data and to keep it up to date. We develop algorithms to do this automatically using satellite imagery.

http://www.tnt.uni-hannover.de/project/wipka/
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82. Board Game: Pimp: The Backhanding [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:10866]
Thaddeus Blanchette
United States
Brooklyn
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My wife and I are social anthropologists in Brazil. We have spent the last several years mapping prostitution in Rio de Janeiro and looking at how it interfaces with tourism.

The government has just closed down the city's major sex-tourim venue, which is a shame, in my opinion, as the wopmen who used the place were free workers without pimps. The upshot seems to be that the women are being pushed into closed venues (with pimps) or out into the streets (where they are more vulnerable to violence).

So now what we are doing is mapping out these changes in the Rio commercial sex market.
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83. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Matteo Del Chicca
Italy
Unspecified
Unspecified
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I'm a PhD in INTERNATIONAL LAW, humanitarian law and EU law... so "Twilight Struggle" maybe is the game that fits better my field of research
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84. Board Game: Smart Ass [Average Rating:5.42 Overall Rank:10324]
Mike Lin
United States
Mobile
Alabama
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I am an electrophysiologist studying ion channels. I started out studying channels in vascular cells that are important in vascular tension regulation and blood pressure. I've then moved on to study the importance of ion channels that play a role in learning and memory. You know, what makes a smart mouse. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be able to make a mouse that don't have analysis paralysis and can play the heaviest game on BGG.

Figure 1. Avatar of Brainbow.
Brainbow was developed by Lichtman and Sanes at Washington University. They have both moved on to the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University.

I usually attend Experimental Biology and Society for Neuroscience meetings. If you also do so, let's get together and game!
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85. Board Game: Woods & Water [Average Rating:6.18 Unranked]
Kristofer Nilsson
Sweden
Stenungsund
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Wow, so many interesting projects out there!

I am another Chemical Engineer and a PhD student in filtration. Separating a solid insoluble particle phase from a liquid suspension. The project deals with ethanol production from wood. There is a surplus of wood available in Sweden (and elsewhere) and some of that surplus might be used to produce vehicle fuel ethanol.

Wood is made up of basically cellulose fibers and lignin (and some other less important stuff... *ducks for cover*). The fibers are "glued" together by the lignin which creates a matrix of incredible mechanical strength. If we break down the fibers to sugar units we can ferment them, just like the Americans are doing with corn and the Brazilians are doing with sugar cane. Problem becomes, what to do with the lignin? It contains as much energy as the ethanol we get out does. So to have the entire process not stop at an efficiency of about 40% we need to recover the energy of the lignin. In the future we might want to use it for production of other chemicals but today we want to burn it. Unfortunately it's swimming around in a tank full of water and ethanol. Enter filtration.

Next problem, lignin forms so called compressible filter beds, i.e. the more pressure you apply to squeeze through water, the more the bed closes up and makes it more difficult for the water to pass through. Which is why I try to model what is happening in the bed so we can design a filter that will dewater the lignin as cheaply and energetically efficient as possible.
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86. Board Game: Social Circles [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Corey Butler
United States
Marshall
Minnesota
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I'm a social psychologist. For the past couple of years I've been looking at the links between social networks and subjective well-being. I want to know the extent to which having a lot of friends and family helps us to feel happy and satisfied with life, and also avoid anxiety and depression. I'm also curious if it's possible to calculate a minimal number of interpersonal relationships needed for optimal health, and also what psychological states mediate the effect of social networks on mood. My research mostly involves surveys: I ask people about all the significant relationships they have and I give them various assessments of positive and negative emotion. I'll be presenting some of my findings at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago in April. Is anyone else going to be there?
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87. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked]
Stuart Perry
United States
Encinitas
California
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I am finishing up a postdoc where I am working on developing models for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF). My background is molecular virology, so I am looking at primarily the cellular signaling that results from infection. This helps shape how the immune system responds to infection, so all these events are intertwined. Like several other viruses, it appears that our response to fight Dengue infection can actually lead to a more severe disease, which complicates things like developing vaccines.

Although "On the Brink" seems a little dramatic, the WHO estiamtes almost a third of the world population is at risk of contracting Dengue, and the number of new cases annually is pretty staggering (somewhere around 50 million).
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88. Board Game: Sticky Situations [Average Rating:4.42 Unranked]
Leo Tischer
United States
Parma
Ohio
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I work as a research polymer chemist on new adhesives & sealants. So, basically, my job is to make some goo, break something, glue it back together with said goo, and then break it again. Some days this can be very therapeutic.
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89. Board Game: Master of Television [Average Rating:5.21 Unranked]
Cate
United States
Mequon
Wisconsin
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Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There's a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. - Leonard Cohen
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My PhD is in Mass Communications. I am interested in the media and mental health. Specifically, are there any media effects (how media affects the individual) regarding their emotional development.
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90. Board Game: Accelerator [Average Rating:5.43 Unranked]
Chris toph
Germany
Mannheim
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Search for SUSY Higgses or something...
Or maybe we'll just have some black holes to be on the safe side...
Greetings from CERN goo

ps: just joking. Yes it is safe, I know. I studied that kind of sh%t.
Nature offers far bigger labs than Cern. We'd know if what we're about to do was destroying the universe.

EDIT:
Spelling
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91. Board Game: War on Terror [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2242]
United States
Missouri
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I am a Ph.D. statistician/psychologist with two areas of research interests: (1) multivariate statistical models, with applications for substance abuse, etc. (funded by the National Institute of Health), and (2) fragmentation of terrorist networks (funded by Joint Warfare Analysis Center, Army Research Institute, anad Office of Naval Research).
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92. Board Game: Careers [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:4277]
 
Andrew Wright
United States
North Andover
Massachusetts
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I am a Ph.D Analytical Chemist, or Chemical Physicist, or simply Spectroscopist, between situations. I have been working on product development of optical detection sensors for process applications.

Instead of getting happy points for a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, I go more toward things like the Green-LED Absorption Sensor and its ilk.
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93. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:986]
Niels Taatgen
Netherlands
Groningen
Groningen
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I am a cognitive scientist, and one of my projects is to improve game AI's by making their behavior more human. Together with a couple of students I have done some experiments with Set to determine the average search time for sets of varying difficulty, and also study the difference between experts and beginners. This allowed us to make a game opponent that plays like a human, and adapts itself to the skill level of the player.
Next project: look at eye-movements using an eye tracker.
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94. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:224]
Christian Shelton
United States
Riverside
California
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I am professor of computer science. I work broadly in the area of machine learning (a branch of AI, like a number of other people here). It is a field that studies how computers can analyze historic data to improve future performance. This places it at the intersection of statistics and optimization. My work has equal parts of theory and application.

In particular, my group and I apply machine learning to problems ranging from object detection in images, robot control and navigation, social network dynamics, computer network intrusion detection, economic markets, and other topics. I have a particular taste for problems with a temporal component.

If that really interests you... ... but you can find out more at http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~cshelton/
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95. Board Game: Love U [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Kevin Purring
United States
Columbia
Maryland
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Master's student studying the psychology of love and attraction. I'm interested primarily in "love at first sight" phenomena - factors that generate "chemistry" between strangers meeting for the first time - and currently I'm looking at the influence of social attention (eye contact) on attractiveness judgments.

Many researchers have suggested that facial attractiveness is simply a physical property of faces; however, findings from recent fMRI and behavioral studies demonstrate that people integrate social cues (e.g. expression and gaze direction) and physical cues when forming face preferences. Brain-imaging studies show that differential responses in brain regions implicated in processing rewards when viewing attractive and unattractive faces are more pronounced when the faces viewed are engaging with the viewer (shown with direct gaze or are smiling) than when the faces are not engaging with the viewer (shown with averted gaze or non-smiling expression.) These findings suggest that attractive faces have high potential reward value, particularly when they signal social attention.

Collectively, this work demonstrates that responses to physical attractiveness are qualified by the extent to which the face shows positive social interest in the viewer. This may reflect a mental process that facilitates the allocation of social effort to the most attractive individuals who appear likely to reciprocate our own interest. However, the general mechanism by which these cues shape face preferences has not been addressed directly. That's what I'm looking at now.

It is basically the coolest job in the world.
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96. Board Game: BrainBox: Animals [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
DMSamuel
United States
Middletown
New York
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The focus of my bachelor's degree was organismal/field biology, and I went on to complete a master's in biology with an emphasis in avian physiological responses to environmental toxins.

I am currently a PhD student in Neurobiology. My main interest is the effect of endogenous steroid hormones on the central nervous system. Using the olfactory bulb as a model circuit, I study modulation and plasticity in sensory systems and neural networks. My project includes behavioral studies, physiological preps, and computational elements. I mainly work on mice, with an eye towards the development of olfactory assays that can assist in the early diagnosis of neurological dysfunctions.
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97. Board Game: Tatchanka: Ukraine, 1919-21 [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
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I'm a historian, mainly interested in Ukrainian nationalism and intellectual history, nationalities policies in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, the interwar Russian and Ukrainian emigrations, and the Russian Revolution and Civil War. Currently, I'm doing research on 'warlordism' in the Ukraine during the Russian Civil War. These 'warlords' were military leaders who headed peasant bands in the Ukraine, set up their own mini-states (often encompasing no more than a few villages), repeatedly switched swides (not only between the Reds, Whites and Ukrainian National Republic, but also sometimes fought totally independently of the major factions), and committed pogroms and other atrocities. In particular, I'm looking at their national identity and political programmes (in so far as they had any), their contacts to the political parties in the Ukraine, their social background and identity, their experience of the First World War, their impact on Ukrainian and Bolshevik state building, the reasons behind their changes in allegiance, the command structures within the groups, the nature of and motivations behind the pogroms and the question of whether 'warlordism' was unique to the Ukraine.

One of the most famous 'warlords'--the anarchist leader Nestor Makhno--can be seen below (on the left, in the centre):



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98. Board Game: Spine Chilling Games [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Spinal Cord Injury Treatments

Spinal cord injuries are devastating, because unlike peripheral nerve injuries which can regenerate naturally (think having a finger cut off and sewn back on - oftentimes function is regained naturally), central nervous system (CNS) injuries very, very rarely show any regeneration on their own. This is due to "secondary injury", which involves the cascade of inflammation, free radical generation, and scar formation which is seen only in the CNS. I am working on a hydrogel drug delivery system that releases localized therapeutic agents to specifically neutralize each of the three areas of secondary injury.
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99. Board Game: Caylus Magna Carta: The Library [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Who? Me?
United States
Austin
Texas
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I am just finishing a PhD in Computer Science (Computer-Human Interaction, Digital Libraries) while teaching at another University :-) in Information Science. I design software to help researchers and students/teachers improve their efficiency through better access to the information that they have or need. This broad definition let's me work in various areas: for example, designing digital technology for libraries, museums, art historians, life scientists, RADAR technologists.... the list is endless. These are collaborations and projects that I have worked on in the last 4 years or so... every day brings a new opportunity to walk into the office/lab of someone in a new discipline, understand what they do and figure out how to develop new technologies to solve some information handling issues that they face...

In these years, I have learned (was taught by experts) how to appreciate a Picasso, how to read RADAR images, what to look for in microscope views of bat blood vessels, some basic steps in art forensics...
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100. Board Game: Hear Me Out [Average Rating:4.99 Overall Rank:10422]
Conor Sipe
United States
Troy
Virginia
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I'm in the 4th year of my Ph.D in Cell Biology at the University of Virginia. I'm studying the development of the inner ear, and, more specifically, the cochlea which is responsible for the sensation of sound. Specialized cells inside the cochlear duct called hair cells contain protrusions (known collectively as the stereociliary bundle) on their surface that allow them to sense vibrations in the surrounding fluid caused by sound. The arrangement of the cells in relation to each other is critical for proper hearing.


The above image shows the uniform arrangement of the four rows of auditory hair cells. The stereociliary bundle of each cell is stained red.

I study the proteins involved in setting up the uniform orientation of the stereociliary bundle across the plane of the sensory epithelium and the cellular machinery that is required to give the bundle its proper form.
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