Philadelphia Geek Award Nominees
July 8, 2013
Attendees of the 2012 Philadelphia Geek Awards pose on the red carpet outside of the Academy. Tim Quirino, co-founder of Geekadelphia, is second from left.
Credit: Jackie Sauer, Clever Girl Photography
The nominees for the 2013 Philadelphia Geek Awards, presented by the hyperlocal geek blog Geekadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, were announced today.
Founded in 2011, the Philadelphia Geek Awards aim to honor and celebrate Philadelphia’s vibrant geek culture. This year the 14 categories range from Scientist of the Year to Comic Creator of the Year, from Startup of the Year to Event of the Year. Perhaps the most highly coveted award is Geek of the Year, according to Geekadelphia co-founder Eric Smith, who describes the event as “like the Oscars, but a lot sillier and a lot more fun.”
The black-tie, red-carpet affair will take place at the Academy on Saturday, Aug. 17. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails, and the ceremony begins at 8 p.m. Ticket prices will be announced later this month, and tickets will go on sale Monday, July 29. Tickets can be purchased at phillygeekawards.com.
The 2013 nominees are listed below and on the official Philadelphia Geek Awards website, phillygeekawards.com.
SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR
Scientist of the Year honors a local scientist working on amazing projects that benefit the scientific world and give back to Philadelphia’s innovative community.
Dr. Pat McGovern
The “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales,” Dr. Pat McGovern is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the Penn Museum. His work analyzing and formulating recipes found in ancient tombs has led to some amazing brews in Dogfish Head Brewery’s Ancient Ales series.
Kimberlee Sue Moran
A teacher, mentor and scientist, Kimberlee Sue Moran has done a lot to bring the world of forensic science to the Philadelphia region, especially during this past year. In October, she pulled in a ton of press by blowing up a transit bus as a field exercise for first responders in the Philadelphia area. When she isn’t busy doing science, she helps encourage others to love it, working with the College of Physicians’ Karabots Junior Scholars Program and teaching forensic science at Rutgers University-Camden.
Using technology developed at Philadelphia’s hackerspace Hive76, Jordan Miller created a method to make a 3-D matrix of blood vessels to encourage cell growth. Miller is researching ways to grow human tissues for organ replacement by printing them. A significant contributor to the biomedical field and the hackerspace movement as a whole, Miller is a true innovator.
GEEK STORY OF THE YEAR
Story of the Year isn’t just a rock band; it’s a category that spotlights a popular geek story. Whether it’s a huge event or a scientific breakthrough, Story of the Year honors a local headline that became a bigger story, drawing attention to Philadelphia’s thriving geek community.
The National Security Agency’s PRISM scandal upset a lot of people. After finding out data wasn’t safe, hundreds of thousands of web searchers descended upon DuckDuckGo, an anonymous search engine, and the site surged with an additional one million searches a day, becoming the go-to alternative for other engines. The service and news went on to be spotlighted in The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Business Insider, The Guardian, CNBC, and popular geek/tech websites including Geekosystem and The Next Web.
PONG on the Cira Centre
The story of PONG being played on the Cira Centre swept national news, bringing the project and the city of Philadelphia into the media spotlight in a fun, exciting way. From Polygon to MTV, PC Magazine to The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal to NPR, Drexel University College of Engineering’s Dr. Frank Lee’s hacked building made headlines everywhere.
University of Pennsylvania researcher Jordan Miller and Hive76 hacker Chris Alfano have been doing amazing work by printing sugar to unlock how to print organs using technology developed at Hive76 and Penn. Miller brought more attention to the story by presenting at local events including Ignite Philly, Nerd Nite and Science on Tap. The innovative project made headlines on NBC and ABC News and CNET, and was a hit overseas on the BBC.
MOBILE APP OF THE YEAR
A category that celebrates local development, Mobile App of the Year spotlights a mobile project, be it on iOS, Android or other native platforms. In addition to being useful and innovative, the Mobile App of the Year brings attention to Philly’s growing mobile development community.
Michael Kiley’s Empty Air
Local musician and sound designer Michael Kiley of The Mural and The Mint combined music, environmental sound and mobile technology to create a location-based composition and iOS app, The Empty Air. Kiley spent months exploring Rittenhouse Square with a microphone and recording the sounds of the park for an immersive experience. He plans to explore other neighborhoods as well. Kiley says (and we agree) it’s “an app that allows people to experience the city through music and become more connected and invested to it as a result.”
BizVizz is an iOS app originally created as a transmedia component of the documentary As Goes Janesville, but it has grown to be much more. The idea is simple, but powerful. Just snap a picture of any major corporate logo or punch in a company name, and the system uses image recognition to find the company and provide campaign-spending data, subsidy data, the company's effective tax rate and more. The team at Faculty Creative has now expanded the app with an open API to allow other socially conscious developers to expand upon the work that has already been done.
The Philly 311 Mobile App is an endeavor by the City of Philadelphia. It empowers Philadelphia’s citizens with the ability to report neighborhood issues directly into city government work-order systems from their smartphones.
STARTUP OF THE YEAR
Startup of the Year honors a new local business doing exciting things in Philly while making waves across the country.
Launched as a public beta in early March, Pagevamp was created by three local University of Pennsylvania students to help people create websites using their Facebook pages. Since its humble launch, Pagevamp has gone on to create more than 7,000 websites from more than 80 countries and received $20,000 in funding from The Dorm Room fund.
The first and only online learning platform for teaching adolescents with autism to use digital and social media, Autism Expressed was launched last year by Michele McKeone, a one-woman army determined to make a difference. The startup received funding this year and was involved in the Philadelphia Science Festival, teaming up with award-winning design studio Cipher Prime.
The team at Artisan is trying to change the way businesses manage their mobile experiences. Backed by years of experience in app development and fresh off the opening of their new office in Old City, Artisan has created a Mobile Experience Management platform that aims to make long, slow app update and approval processes a thing of the past. Led by founder and veteran developer Scott Wasserman and CEO Bob Moul, Artisan has just closed a Series A round of $5.5 million to increase operations here in Philadelphia.
HACKER OF THE YEAR
Hacker of the Year honors someone working on unique, innovative projects in the Philadelphia region.
Dr. Frank Lee
With his dream project finally coming true this year, Drexel University College of Engineering computer science associate professor Dr. Frank Lee hacked the Cira Centre, an entire building, and programmed it to play PONG at the opening kickoff of Philly Tech Week. Later in the week, he even made the building play Tetris. News of the project swept the country, making headlines everywhere. Word has it he’ll be making an appearance in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The co-captain of Code for Philly and the co-founder of Jarv.us and Devnuts, Alfano contributes to the Philadelphia hacking scene all for the benefit of the community.
Philadelphia’s Space Apps TEAM
The two-day Philadelphia-area hackathon runs during the Philadelphia Science Festival, aiming to help solve the current challenges in space exploration and science. And it had a Philly winner! Led by Azavea’s Andrew Thompson, the winner was an International Space Station finder created by Philadelphia’s Space Apps team.
VISUAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Visual Artist of the Year honors a local geek creating fantastic, unique art that draws attention from the local community.
The artist behind Indy Hall’s numerous galleries and arts events, Sean Martorana has done a lot for the Philly art community, giving it a new space and a place to receive the attention it deserves. His exquisite line art drawings have been featured in FAB and in several local media outlets.
A local blind programmer, Austin Seraphin created Braille street art during Philly Tech Week, previewing the project during the #NotAtSXSW party in the Drink Philly offices. A unique, beautiful project, the Braille stickers appeared on newspaper boxes in Philadelphia.
The artist behind Hot Diggity, a geek favorite hangout, Krall created unique, beautiful pieces inspired by delicious hot dogs. This year his work brought attention from Serious Eats (where he also writes about hot dogs), Eater, Foobooz and other great local outlets. He even created a large, intricate mural behind Fishtown’s Pizza Brain. Depicted within are more than 150 (mostly) famous Philadelphians consuming slices upon slices of glorious pizza. This year you could also spot his work in galleries at Art in the Age, along East Passyunk, and HOME.
INDIE GAME OF THE YEAR
Philadelphia’s game development scene is one fantastic scene to be a part of. Video games, board games, card games, tabletop games—there’s a little bit of everything in the world of Philly gaming. Whether it drew in a ton of attention through reviews or awards, or just had a unique concept or engrossing story behind the process, Indie Game of the Year honors a locally created title worthy of praise and attention.
Created during Philadelphia’s 24-hour Game Jam, sponsored by the Philly chapter of the IDGA, this card game has players building mutant dinosaurs while experiencing hilarious writing, beautiful art and engaging game play.
Perfection (Greg Lobanov)
A simple minimalistic game, Perfection was built by Drexel University student Greg Lobanov, who operates his one-man indie game company Dumb & Fat Games. Building games since 8th grade, Lobanov has been making waves in the indie game community by churning out fun and innovative titles all on his own. Perfection is a simple, soothing puzzle game that has players cutting up shapes so they fit into new outlines. Everything is randomly generated, so the gamer never sees the same puzzle twice. With no game overs or time limits, it’s a forgiving game in a landscape of brutally difficult puzzlers. In addition to releasing Perfection this year, Lobanov made news by becoming the first Drexel student to do his student co-op program by being employed by himself. Since March, he has released Perfection and another title, Sling It!, both of which are available on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac.
Pixel Lincoln (Island Officials)
Known for their engrossing Nintendo DS puzzle games, Island Officials released Pixel Lincoln, which raised more than $40,000 on Kickstarter for its launch. A deckbuilding game using beautifully pixilated characters (including Abraham Lincoln) with addicting gameplay and witty characters, it is set to become a Nintendo DS game soon.
FEATURE LENGTH INDIE FILM OF THE YEAR
We’ve seen a lot of great movies come out of Philadelphia. The Sixth Sense. Rocky. Silver Linings Playbook. 12 Monkeys. The list goes on. Feature Length Indie Film of the Year acknowledges the underdogs, awarding an extraordinary indie film shot in Philadelphia.
This Time Tomorrow
Philadelphia is at the forefront in this romantic drama that takes place December 20, 2012, the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. After moving to New York City, Stacey has returned to Philly to spend what could possibly be his last days on Earth, rekindling his relationship with his former girlfriend, Parker. Reluctantly she decides to spend the two tumultuous days with him as they desperately try to reconnect, while the reasons for their breakup become more and more heartbreakingly apparent.
The Backyard Philly Project
The Backyard Philly Project is a documentary focusing on four teenagers growing up in Penn Town, a rough Philadelphia inner-city community. All the teens were given a camera to film their lives from their own perspectives, giving folks a rarely seen peek into inner city life. The film is both inspirational and gut-wrenching. The teens struggle to overcome adversity and not fall into the cycle of drugs and violence that surrounds them when they graduate from high school.
People grow up and people change; this is the story of Detonator. Sully, the former frontman of prominent Philadelphia punk band Detonator, is trying to make a new start for himself in the suburbs with his wife and son. While struggling to make ends meet, he gets a call from Mick, an ex-bandmate looking to catch up. Intrigued by the call, Sully is pulled into a night in the city where he is forced to confront his past and decide on his future.
VIRAL PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Plenty of successful viral projects come out of Philadelphia. Last year’s award-winning viral project was the Philadelphia Opera Company’s series of videos, which brought beautiful music to unexpected places. The year before, we honored Nick Murphy’s Indie God of War and Zelda, ’87 videos, faux commercials that brought laughter to hundreds of thousands of gamer geeks. Whether it’s through music or comedy, alerting people to a cause or created just because, Viral Project of the Year recognizes amazing projects that spread across the Internet like a virus.
We’re Never Ever Ever Going to Win with Andy
Produced and directed by Shawn Caple of From Start to Film and performed by Casey Conklin, this hilarious and well-done parody music video went massively viral, becoming a playful anthem for Eagles fans who were fed up with their former coach.
Written and produced by Cinevore Studios, known for working with OverAnalyzers and Nerd vs. Geek, this playful take on dialogue choice in video games spread across the Internet, making gamers everywhere laugh.
A fun toy produced by Neo Pangea, Intern Abuser allowed people to pick on their intern via social media. The project went on to be featured in Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Weekly, Media Bistro, and more.
WEB PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Web Project of the Year recognizes amazing projects that beautifully combine design and technology in order to inspire and awe us.
Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation
Developed by the Brownstein Group, the PHRF website went on to win an ADDY Award for Public Service and a Gold ADDY award for digital advertising. A visually breathtaking website, the PHRF is also full of resources, an interactive timeline and materials for anyone looking to educate themselves.
Built to give readers the ability to better understand and access public data while assisting journalists with reporting projects, Axis Philly does a great deal, giving back to the community through online maps, graphics and interactive online tools. A nonprofit utility, Axis Philly gives back to the region by providing high-quality, multidimensional public interest news and information.
Hacking the Gender Gap
Hosted on The Hacktory’s website, Hacking The Gender Gap serves as a powerful, interactive embodiment of Philly’s gender-friendly tech atmosphere from its start to where it is today. Started at the Women in Tech Summit in April 2012 and the main project for the first LadyHacks hackathon, it’s a wonderful way to showcase Philly’s reputation as one of the most diverse, friendly geek/tech communities in the country.
COMIC CREATOR OF THE YEAR
Comic Creator of the Year spotlights the publishers, writers and artists involved in creating the beautiful works all of us geeks love to read, whether on the web or in print.
The writer of The Battle of Blood & Ink (Tor Books, 2012), Axelrod’s debut work has already gone from hardcover to paperback and is an inspired piece of transmedia storytelling, complete with two prequel novellas in the form of 44 podcast episodes.
The publisher and editor at Grayhaven Comics, Goletz’s beautiful You Are Not Alone series was created after the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook. This anthology comic book with real-life stories regarding social issues like bullying, abuse and drug use was created to inspire young folks not to give up, and to tell them that there is hope despite adversity.
This year Philadelphia’s celebrated illustrator Christine Larsen published Valentine, a book available through Comixology via Image Comics, in 18 languages. Over the years, Larsen has worked on the comic book adaptations of Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and South Fellini’s (Philadelphia based studio) own LaMorte Sisters.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
As anyone involved in working with social media can tell you, it’s more than just tweets, Facebook updates and posts on Tumblr. Through social media, anyone from a single individual to an agency can inform and inspire. Social Media Campaign of the Year acknowledges the hard work behind these campaigns, whether they’re driving attention through blogs, hashtags or shared images.
Launched just last year, the GunCrisis website and hashtag #GunCrisis is an independent nonprofit journalism project, reporting important stories on the blog and via their hashtag, specifically focusing on gun violence in Philadelphia. An excellent example of social media journalism, they maintain conversation across social media and help the community tell their stories.
Neighborhoods: Guest Instagram Project
By pulling together some of Philadelphia’s finest photographers and Instagram users, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation shared stunning images of Philadelphia with the people living in those neighborhoods and those who might be interested in visiting.
Philly Love Notes
Launched last year, Philly Love Notes picked up steam in summer and fall 2012, rallying Philadelphians to submit blog posts about why they love their city, sending love notes to their favorite parks, restaurants or even benches around the city. A force of her own, Emma Fried-Cassorla has published hundreds of letters and has been spotlighted in numerous mainstream media articles, using the power of social media to show off Philadelphia in a positive, beautiful light.
EVENT OF THE YEAR
Unconferences, TEDx talks, festivals, fundraisers, exhibits, hackathon. Philly is a fantastic city with a string of amazing geeky events all year long. Event of the Year honors an outstanding event that has pulled in not only a lot of attendees, but also a lot of attention to the city, often doing a lot of good for the community. Previous years’ winners have included Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival.
Nerd Nite Philly
A monthly event held at Frankford Hall, Nerd Nite Philly brings in speakers from all over the city, talking on a wealth of topics: science, technology, you name it. Philly’s best and brightest hackers, scientists, artists and techies have found themselves speaking to large, eager crowds in the beer garden. This year, Nerd Nite featured some truly incredible guest speakers including Mr. T. expert Ben Leach, Suzanne Woods of Allagash Brewing Co., cheese artisan Madame Fromage, hacker Georgia Gurthrie and others.
Philly Give & Get
This year, Lansie Sylvia’s new fundraising event Philly Give & Get brought in $6,000 for the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology. Auctioning off “dates” with talented individuals, Philly Give & Get creates an opportunity to learn from experienced professionals in their respective fields while networking and meeting awesome new people. After the event, Lansie Sylvia was selected a 2013 Social Impact Fellow.
Open Air Philadelphia
With thousands of participants and millions of web visitors, Open Air Philadelphia brought together public art and mobile tech to create a fantastic, unique platform for the community to participate in. It illuminated the Philadelphia skyline for three weeks in the fall, and participants could record and submit messages to share through the art program. The app was downloaded more than 7,000 times and more than 17,000 people visited the Benjamin Franklin Parkway through the project’s life, becoming the largest crowd-sourced public art project ever seen in Philadelphia.
GEEK OF THE YEAR
Perhaps the most coveted award in the Philadelphia Geek Awards, Geek of the Year honors an outstanding geeky individual in Philadelphia. We’ve made a point to focus on passionate individuals who have made an impact here, without whom the city wouldn’t be the same.
A Jack of All Trades, Matt Akana is a molecular biologist, game designer and improv comedy performer. Over the past year, he launched Evil Spares None, a Kickstarter funded game, and spoke about analytical improv at TEDxPheonixville and Nerd Nite Philly. That’s right: Science meets improv. When he isn’t busy making people laugh, teaching people how to laugh (with science!) and crowd funding amazing games, Akana is a scientist at a local pharmaceutical company, where he spends his days trying to find the cure for Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Frank Lee
Drexel University College of Engineering associate computer science professor Dr. Frank Lee isn’t just a gaming arts professor. He’s a skilled hacker, who brought Philadelphia into the spotlight this spring with his 29-story game of PONG on the Cira Centre. Spotlighted in Fast Company, the Associated Press, The New York Times, NPR, and more, Lee brought attention to Philadelphia with a truly fantastic, awe-inspiring event. He’s the co-founder and co-director of the Drexel Game Design Program, which has been ranked one of the top 10 game design programs in the U.S., and the Replay Lab, a research and development lab in game design at Drexel.
Dan Ueda is an incredible high school science teacher who has gone above and beyond to inspire his students to be just as geeky as him. At Central High School, he brought his robotics team, The Robolancers, to a national competition for the first time. And he volunteers to do all this robotics work in his free time. He’s inspiring a whole new generation of geeks, and we’re proud to nominate him for Geek of the Year.
To download an image from last year’s event, visit the Academy’s Press Room. For more images and see a video from last year’s ceremony, visit the About section on the Philly Geek Awards website.