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Boston, MA - Side Effects May Vary

  • OBERON 2 Arrow Street Cambridge, MA, 02138 United States (map)

Join us at the Oberon on July 9 for five true, personal stories about unexpected outcomes!

Hosted by Ari Daniel & Katherine Wu.

Doors at 7:30 p.m. Stories start at 8 p.m.


Peter Degen-Portnoy is a father of five, an engineer, life-long athlete, presenter, inventor and mentor. He has been a ballet dancer, choreographer and lighting designer as well. Additionally, he signed up for a one-way mission to establish a permanent human colony on Mars with the Mars One Foundation and is currently one of the Round 3 Mars One 100 colonist candidates.

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As the oldest of four and the mother of one, Amanda Goodwin has always found great joy in connecting and caring. After earning a couple of degrees, she put her compassion to work by helping leading area non-profits raise funds and awareness. Most recently, she’s served as the Head of Storytelling at the Life is Good Kids Foundation –getting to share the stories of the organization’s unique approach to treating early childhood trauma. She’s previously she served as the Director of On-Air Fundraising at WGBH, and on the Strategic Development Team at Boston College. She’s a short-story author, a Moth StorySLAM winner, and the co-founder of Blind Tiger Tellers.


Jess Kanwal is a neuroscientist fascinated by brains, bugs, and behavior.  She has dabbled in research on honeybee pain perception, bug detection in salamander eyes, and fruit fly personality.  Jess recently earned her PhD from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard University, studying how the fruit fly larva’s tiny brain combines smell and taste to perceive flavor.  She is also a writer and educator with the Harvard science communication group, Science in the News.  In her free time, Jess enjoys dancing to Bhangra music, making pottery in the studio, or hiking and exploring the outdoors.


Ashley Smart is a scientist turned science journalist. After years of working in chemical engineering research labs, he moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. to write about physics as an editor and reporter for Physics Today magazine. There, he covered everything from starquakes on distant white dwarfs to the quantum mechanics of frog eyes. He now lives in Cambridge, MA, where he is associate director of the Knight Science Journalism Program and an editor for the digital science magazine Undark. Before turning to science writing, Ashley enjoyed a very brief and hugely unsuccessful side career as a sketch comedy writer in Los Angeles.


Katherine (Katie) Wu is a Boston-based scientist and science writer. She recently earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where she studied how bacteria deal with stress so that she could one day learn to do the same (it has yet to pan out). Now, she is a Digital Editor for PBS NOVA and a Story Collider producer. She formerly served as a 2018 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at Smithsonian magazine and as Co-Director of Science in the News, a graduate student organization dedicated to communicating science to the general public. In her spare time, she serves as a heat-generating pillow for her cats and continues her quest to find the authentic tacos east of the Mississippi. Follow her on Twitter @KatherineJWu.

Earlier Event: July 1
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Later Event: July 11
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