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Philadelphia Geek Awards' 2015 Nominees

PHILADELPHIA, July 20, 2015

The nominees for the 2015 Philadelphia Geek Awards, presented by the hyperlocal geek blog Geekadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, were announced today.

Now entering their fifth consecutive year, the Philadelphia Geek Awards aim to celebrate and honor Philadelphia’s bustling geek community. From Comic Creator of the Year to I.R.L. (In Real Life) Project of the Year, the awards showcase 13 different categories covering a wide array of the geek spectrum.

The annual black-tie, red-carpet affair will take place at the Academy on Saturday, Aug. 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with cocktails, snacks, and an open museum waiting to be explored. The ceremony begins promptly at 8 the Academy’s auditorium.

Tickets will go on sale Monday, Aug.  3 in the morning and can be purchased via the Philadelphia Geek Awards official website,

The 2015 nominees are listed below and on the official Philadelphia Geek Awards website.


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.

Michelle Johnson
A member of the GRASP Lab at the Penn School of Medicine, Michelle Johnson is currently doing work in the new field of rehabilitation robotics. Using robotics, rehabilitation, and neuroscience techniques, her lab seeks to translate their findings into the development of assistive and therapeutic rehabilitation robots.

An active member of the Philadelphia scientific community, Johnson participates in outreach activities, including the Franklin Institute’s Science After Hours program. She spoke at TEDxPhiladelphia this year and was one of Technically Philly’s four favorite talks from the 2015 program.

Penn’s “Twitter Predicts Heart Disease” Team
In a study released in January, this team of University of Pennsylvania scientists, led by graduate student Johannes C. Eichstaedt, explored the idea that social media and big data represent a new frontier in psychological research.

By studying negative emotional language and topics, they were able to determine how strongly connected language patterns were with heart disease mortality and ultimately how Twitter could serve as an indicator of community well being.

Peter Lloyd Jones
The first Associate Dean of Emergent Design + Creative Technologies in Medicine for the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Jones is the founder and director of the MEDstudio@JEFF.

Focused on bringing the humanistic approach of design into the medical field through the research and education incubator, MEDstudio@JEFF is also home to the College within The College Design Track, a program that seeks to foster creative thinking in medical students. Jones works to bring science and design together at Jefferson University.



Our city is home to several great podcasts/vodcasts, YouTubers and others who regularly tell their story to the world from their home base in the City of Brotherly Love. Streaming Media Project of the Year recognizes their efforts and hopes to get you listening and/or watching.

Out of Town Films
A Philadelphia-based film collective, Out of Town Films creates stunning, high quality performance-based videos with both local and touring artists/bands in varying locations throughout the city. With a launch in 2012, they’ve grown exponentially, with close to 200 videos available for viewing on their website.

In addition to providing beautiful videos for free on their site, Out of Town Films takes their platform into I.R.L. spaces, hosting pop-up shows around town with different locations and different artists, giving their followers an awe-inspiring musical experience they wouldn’t get in a regular venue. For example, this year The Districts performed in a warehouse loft apartment in Fishtown, and Ra Ra Riot performed for150 people in a Kensington art space.

You can visit them at, where countless music fans get to revisit their one-of-a-kind experiences, again and again.

Not Nearly Nerdy Enough
A fun local podcast run by two best friends, Not Nearly Nerdy Enough is a new podcast in the Philadelphia geek community, covering all that is pop culture. As thoughtful and insightful as it is entertaining and often hilarious, an array of guests from the Philadelphia area regularly pops on the show to discuss their passions and engage in smart geek debate.

Available on iTunes, you can give them a listen here.

Book Fight!
When these two book lovers collide, things get heated in the best way. Discussing books they love and hate, as well as talking about the craft of writing, Book Fight! is a podcast headed up by two Temple professors that are fiercely passionate about the literary world.

With production that’s as high quality as the discussion, Book Fight! is an insightful look into the literary, dishing out in-depth criticism by two smart literati. They’ve also taken their podcast into the wild, hosting events at places like Tattooed Mom, The Spiral Bookcase, and the Philadelphia Writers Conference.

To learn more about Book Fight!, and to give them a listen, visit



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.

Analog Watch Company’s Ant Farm Watch
With an April Fool’s Joke that took the Internet by storm, Analog Watch Company’s Ant Farm Watch found itself in plenty of local media outlets, getting showcased and discussed on Philly Mag, Technically Philly, and Geekadelphia,but made waves all over, tricking blogs around the world.

Showcased (and in some cases fiercely argued about) on websites like TechnaBob, Design Taxi, Beautiful Decay, Complex, Fast Company, TechCrunch, and listed as one of the Best April Fool’s Pranks of 2015 by The Telegraph, Yahoo, Analog Watch Company’s joke didn’t just make us laugh and think. It brought attention to Philadelphia and this awesome startup in a fun, quirky way.

Philadelphia’s First Renaissance Faire
The launch of the Philadelphia Renaissance Faire took over the cover the Philadelphia Weekly in May and brought with it a single weekend of swordplay, giant turkey legs, and The Mountain from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Tired of trips to other towns and states, Patrick Rodgers launched the festival to give Philadelphia its very own celebration of the medieval. The event and was spotlighted by WHYY’s NewsWorks, Uwishunu, CBS3, and found photographs showcased in places like Getty Images.

A wonderful addition to the geek community, it’s an event we’ll be talking about for a long time and will generate stories and lasting memories year after year.

Earlier this year, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund was at risk of having its funding cut by 40 percent in fiscal year 2016. Less than a month ago, City Council approved an amended budget that maintains the Cultural Fund budget at $3.14 million. The decision to maintain the budget was due, in large part, to the efforts of GroundSwell, the advocacy arm of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Working in collaboration with the Cultural Fund, GroundSwell organized a number of campaigns to protect the Cultural Fund's budget allocations which included the second Annual Philly Arts Advocacy Day and a twitter campaign using the hashtag #SavePHLarts

Helping over one hundred art organizations get funded, GroundSwell was a campaign that blended social media and in-real-life protests to help save Philadelphia’s art scene, something we can all be thankful for. 



Startup of the Year honors a new local business doing exciting things in Philly while making waves across the country.

The Monkey & the Elephant
Philadelphia's first stand-alone nonprofit cafe aims to be more than just a coffee shop: The Monkey & the Elephant equips former foster youth with the skills, job training, and social tools necessary to make the transition to self-sufficient adulthood. What began as coffee service pop-ups in the Italian Market, at Transfer Station and at Impact Hub, launched into their first permanent location in Brewerytown in early 2015. 

You can learn more about the café on their official website (, or you can just go visit them at 2831 W. Girard St. They’re open every day, doing good, from 7 5 p.m.

You might recognize Chris Gray from his appearance on Shark Tank this February, during which his mobile app secured $40,000 in funding from two of the celebrity investors. Scholly helps break down barriers in the search for college scholarships.

Thanks to partnerships with state and federal programs, the app is now being widely distributed for free to students preparing to enter college. Scholly has been spotlighted by USA Today, TechCrunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more– all before the fledgling social entrepreneur graduated from Drexel University this June. 

Billy Penn
Launched in October, Billy Penn is a mobile-first news platform designed with millennials in mind. What makes this startup unique (besides the penchant for covering political debates with emojii or explaining local dynasties à laGame of Thrones) is the approach to civic engagement, targeting an audience that's typically hard to reach. 

With their innovative blend of original content with aggregated must-read links from around the local web, plus events and forums about town, Billy Penn is already forming a community in Philadelphia while making waves with journalism institutes across the country.



A number of the projects we honor at the awards happen to be digital, non-physical projects. Websites. Viral videos. Video games. Streaming media. The I.R.L. (In Real Life!) Project of the Year focuses on a project you can hold, touch, or one that exists in the physical space.

When Klip Collective first visited Longwood Gardens two years ago, they explored the possibility of using their unique visual lighting effects throughout the gardens. Generally, Klip uses buildings or other objects as projection surfaces. In the case of Nightscape at Longwood Gardens, they mapped their visual effects onto living trees and plants in the gardens, creating whole new visual language and effects.

After two years of experiments and testing, the resulting installation, Nightscape, launched in 2014. Each animation and projection takes layers of textures, colors, and patterns, using the living garden as a canvas to awe and inspire visitors.

You can watch a video of Nightscape at Longwood Gardens’ official website.

The White Mountains
Through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, REACH (Resources for Education and Action for Community Health) explored the history, environmental health, and community identity of  Ambler, Pa., with The White Mountains as the capstone event of their project.

The White Mountains, a performance piece based on interviews with Ambler residents, activists, and government officials, brought together 10 Philadelphia playwrights who developed short plays on Amber’s past, present, and future, touching on asbestos production as the cornerstone of Amber’s local economy. Not simply a play, The White Mountains is now a model for recording and sharing stories of environmental justice.

Learn more about it  on the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s website.

Ikire Jones’ Africa 2081 AD
Walé Oyéjidé and Samuel Hubler’s line of Afrocentric menswear, Ikire Jones, is creating headlines around the fashion world. And you might recognize Oyéjidé from his other ventures, such as performing under the name Science Fiction and collaborating with artists such as MF Doom.

Their 2081 A.D. series is currently on display in the Vitra Design Museum’s Making Africa exhibit in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Learn more about this amazing clothing line on their website.



Visual Artist of the Year honors a local geek creating fantastic, unique art that draws attention from the local community.

Caitlin T. McCormack
Inspired by the cycle of life and a family tradition of crochet, Caitlin T. McCormack takes string and transforms it into an appreciation for nature, the passage of time, and the interconnectedness of our world. She was trained by the University of the Arts and her solo show, Interhaven, opened at Paradigm Gallery + Studio on Aug. 22, 2014.

To see more of her amazing artwork, visit

Cory J. Popp
Filmmaker and journalist, this native Philadelphian is known for his three-video series, "Philly Makers," "Wastelands," and "Uncover Philly." South Philly local, Cory J. Popp has used his passion for storytelling to create visually stunning videos focusing on the fascinating people and places of his hometown. Popp began shooting video for real estate companies, which transitioned into the production of his own videos, including his first Philly seasonal video in 2014, the massively popular "A Philly Christmas."

While some of his videos involved planning, a majority are filmed spontaneously while walking through different Philadelphia neighborhoods. Whether it's to draw new attention to the city's hidden gems, reigniting interest in city spaces, or reminding us why we all love Philadelphia, Popp's work has helped highlight our city in a way that Philadelphian's young and old can admire. In his latest "Undercover Philly" installment, Popp’s largest project to date, "Philadelphia from Above," is the result of four weeks, 70 hours, 230 GB, 204 video clips, and 40 time lapses made from 16,288. photographs.

To see more of Cory's remarkable stories, visit

Michael Norcross
A gifted artist and screen printer, Michael Norcross often can be found in Old City’s Indy Hall, working on his stunning pieces and organizing art shows. In 2014, he organized Posters Against Ebola, a group exhibit to benefit Doctors Without Borders in an effort with Philadelphia University, Print magazine, and Northwestern University. His exhibit at Indy Hall, Dark Matter, left visitors awed and surprised as they wandered the co-working space. He doesn’t just inspire with his art. He does good with it, which is also pretty inspiring.

To see more of his work, visit



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.

With a successfully crowdfunded Kickstarter, Pretense launched with over 1,300 backers excited about this card game that’s high in concept and fun. A game that you play during other games, Pretense is a game night social metagame that is played over the entire course of an evening.

Your job? Fulfill the role you’ve been given on your card. Are you the critic? The bookworm? The glutton? The busybody? If you accomplish the goal of living out this role, you gain a point and get to steal someone else’s role.

Created by the prolific Jason Tagmire (creator of Pixel Lincoln and Storytelling Cards), Pretense is an incredibly unique game for gamers.

A challenging, frightening game that takes players completely out of their comfort zone, Soulfill is designed so no two players will experience the game the same way. Developed by Little Wins LLC and created during the Global Game Jam of 2014, Soulfill has gamers listen to narrator prompts on an iPhone while waiting or riding public transportation. You score points by initiating and maintaining eye contact with strangers, but lose points by making eye contact with people already looking at you.

The game challenges you to progress past the awkwardness in a setting where you’re uncomfortable doing so, in an attempt to uncover the fact that these anxieties are self-imposed, and people around you are dealing with the same thing. A story-driven, narrative experience that’s entirely free to download and play, and a winner of the 2014 IndieCade award for Interaction, Soulfill received notable press from national outlets including the Los Angeles Times and locally from Technically Philly.

An official selection of 2015’s IndieCade’s eSports Showcase and Magfest’s Indie Game Showcase, as well as the Smithsonian America Art Museum’s Indie Arcade in 2014, Clusterpuck 99 was born out of the PHL Collective game studio.

With multiple levels and eight player gameplay, it’s an exciting convention and party game from a new studio formed in Philly in 2013. Headed by a developer hiring only graduates from the Philadelphia area, the team behind Clusterpuck99 has done a lot of outreach work, teaching kids how to program and make games.

You can learn more about Clusterpuck99 on the game’s official website,, and you can download it on Steam (and soon Xbox One!).



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.

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
In AVGN: The Movie, the title character must overcome his phobia of the worst video game in the world in order to save his fans. It was digitally released everywhere on Sept. 2. The film has been making the rounds, touring everywhere with sold-out screenings across the country.

You can watch the trailer for the film, here.

I Am Santa Claus
With a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought in over $50,000, I Am Santa Claus documented a year in the lives of professional Santa Clauses to find out what the rest of the year is. A quirky and unique documentary, viewers get to see these Santas for who they actually are: flawed, flesh and blood men who feel responsible for protecting the integrity of the Red Suit.

Watch the trailer for the documentary, here.

Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere
Inspired by the memoir by Poe Ballantine, Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere had Philly filmmaker Dave Jannetta exploring the mystery, while examining the author’s life. In the film, more than twenty current residents of Chadron personify the town and substantiate a narrative that touches on themes such as depression, suicide, the ephemeral nature of reality, and the American Dream.

Watch the trailer, here.



Web Project of the Year recognizes amazing projects that beautifully combine design and technology in order to inspire and awe us.

Close to Good’s Lunar Sellout
The local chiptune group Close to Good is known for a lot of fun, geeky projects. They recorded the entire Mega Man III soundtrack, and released it for free on their website in 2013. This year, they surprised their fans by releasing Lunar Sellout: DDR Remix, a playable remix of the original song Lunar Sellout.

What makes this an awe inspiring web project? While streaming the song on their official website, you can play DDR along with the track. Try out the experience here (, and then go download the track. While a seemingly simple web toy, the technology behind pushing something like this live is incredibly impressing, and the result is a totally fun, interesting way to promote a new single.

TypeDrummer by Kyle Stetz
Kyle Stetz, a developer at P’unk Ave, created a remarkably fun little experiment called typedrummer. The idea? Turn your (typed) words into sick beats. Simple in practice, typedrummer is remarkably sophisticated in execution. Each letter of the alphabet is mapped to a sample, so anything you type into the box is interpreted as sound and played back at 120BPM. You keep typing, it loops back to the beginning to keep the party going. Stetz even tied in a bonus alternate mode that incorporates samples from local electro-pop artist Moon Bounce.

Typedrummer uses the Web Audio API that came about as a part of modern browsers, and according to Stetz this implementation is just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

Ready to make your masterpiece? Check out

Open Data Philly’s Relaunch
The Web Project of the Year category always gets tons of great submissions that use publicly available data to better our city or provide a useful service. More often than not, that data comes by way of OpenDataPhilly.

Backed by the William Penn Foundation and the Knight Foundation and first launched during Philly Tech Week 2011, OpenDataPhilly collects more than 250 data sets, APIs and applications related to the region for the purpose of creating a better community, more transparent government, and a more engaged citizenry.

The new site (and the original) were designed and developed by local firm Azavea. Take a look at the new site and the projects being built with the data at



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.

Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman for Dirty Diamonds
An all-girl comic anthology curated by Philadelphia’s own Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman, Dirty Diamonds strives to give the women of comics a dedicated outlet for telling their stories. Artists from all around the world have contributed their works over the years, and using this outlet, Phillips and Folkman have been able to give numerous women in comics a platform to stand out.

Their fifth issue, an anthology on comics, featured 32 artists from six different countries, all sharing stories about the medium that they hold dear: comics. Their first professionally printed book, Comics is a stunning anthology, featuring a cover by Carey Pietsch (Adventure Time), and raised over $8,000 on Kickstarter to support its printing.

Showing no sign of slowing down, Dirty Diamonds’ latest crowdfunded campaign, an anthology on beauty, raised over $17,000 just in June. Learn more about them at

Ian Sampson
Currently teaching at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Salem Community College in New Jersey, Sampson is a resident artist at the Neighborhood Time Exchange West Philadelphia Artist Residency. Every hour he works on a project, he donates an hour to volunteer and help the community.

This year, Sampson chronicled the work of his fellow Neighborhood Time Exchange artist, Kandis Friesen. He released some fantastic mini comics, including Up to the Top, which was nominated for an Ignatz Award in 2014 and accepted into the Society of Illustrators 2015 Comic and Cartoon Art Annual.

You can learn more about Sampson and his work on his official website,

Locust Moon Press for Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream
It’s been a landmark year for Locust Moon Comics, the comic-book-shop-art-gallery-small-publisher located in University City. Their Kickstarter funded Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream went on to raise over $150,000 and swept the Eisner Awards in June, taking home the coveted Best Anthology award.

A passion project that took two years to assemble, artists included in the epic anthology included celebrated locals including J. G. Jones, Jeffro Kilpatrick, and New York Times bestselling author Box Brown. Hundreds of some of the most celebrated artists in comics flocked to be a part of this project, giving them the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the greatest innovators in comics, Winsor McCay.

You can learn more about the anthology on Locust Moon’s page for the book, here.



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.

The Narrator: Philadelphia Police Department
Consistent in their voice, the Philadelphia Police Department’s social media channels, particularly on Facebook and Twitter, manage to delight and inform.

The person (or persons) behind the updates refer to themselves as the Humble and Faithful Narrator, and has a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the geek culture canon, using video games, memes, and popular film to poke fun at Philadelphia and keep its citizens informed.

The viral nature of “The Narrator’s” posts shine a positive light on Philadelphia and its police force.

13 minutes. $100. If you can figure out the clues, you can win $100 from this anonymous social media account. Utilizing Vine videos and Instagram posts, FindMePhilly sends Philadelphians around the city on scavenger hunts to win actual cash.

Showcasing different neighborhoods, FindMePhilly encourages exploration and actively engages their followers, inspiring them to get out and away from their computer screens with fun photography and a playful voice. The first winner of FindMePhilly’s scavenger hunt used her money to buy pizza and feed the homeless. The mysterious social media account’s founder hopes that FindMePhilly will inspire more people to pay-it-forward and give back to their community.

@Mrs_Angemi: Nicole Angemi’s Autopsy Instagram
Nicole Angemi is a pathologist assistant whose  Instagram was shut down multiple times. Why? She posts autopsy photographs. Her controversial account isn’t there to create controversy though. It’s there to educate and inform and to reveal hard truths about the human body, health, and the causes of death.

Her account boasts over 350,000 followers, and she’s found herself featured locally in Philly Voice,, and has taken the international spotlight, with pieces on The Sun in the UK, as well as VICE.



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.

Blackstar Film Festival
An ever-growing celebration of film, Blackstar highlights movies that often are overlooked by the mainstream press, showcasing works by people in all stages of their cinema careers. Emerging directors to well established ones, from serious documentaries to experimental music videos.

J-1 Con
Created by Philadelphia’s Jason Richardson, who took home the coveted Geek of the Year award last year, J-1 Con is a convention founded to make conventions accessible, created for fans, by fans.

Cosplay contests, live performances, informative panels, artist signings, and meet-and-greets, J-1 Con continues to grow year after year, delivering on their goal to make cons affordable for everyone, not just for attendees, but for artists who want to exhibit. They offer incredibly inexpensive tables to up-and-coming illustrators and comic artists.

This year, J-1 announced additional expansion, bringing a music component to the always anticipated event. You can watch a recap video of last year’s con here:

City Council Candidate Convention
Starting with the premise that City Council decides how $4.5 billion gets spent each year but many folks, young and old, don’t know much about their representatives on City Council, Young Involved Philly decided to put together an event to change that. Working with the Committee of Seventy and WHYY, YIP put on an event so successful they had to worry about fire code restrictions.



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.

Jon Geeting
The engagement editor at PlanPhilly, Geeting’s been busy hustling away, creating a community of city planners, developers, and community activists. In addition to his work at PlanPhilly, Geeting’s helped found 5th Square, created the hashtag #urbanphl, and is the co-organizer of Urban Geek Drinks, a monthly happy hour for Philly’s geeky urbanist community.

Ather Sharif
The founder and researcher at EvoXLabs, Sharif is a software engineer, freelance web developer, and a consultant who is constantly researching web accessibility and jQuery tools to make the Internet a more accessible place.

One of the developers on Unlock Philly, he also founded the SCI Video Blog, full of tutorial videos that help people with SCI (spinal cord injuries) perform their daily  activities.

Alexis Jeffcoat
From her work making Laurel Hill Cemetery a geeky place to hang out to her fantastic lectures during Nerd Nite Philadelphia, Alex Jeffcoat is a geek with her hands in a lot of projects. Her work at Laurel Hill Cemetery brought tons of fresh eyes into the historic place, a talent she now brings to the Chemical Heritage Foundation. An active part of the geek community, Jeffcoat can be found collaborating on projects like Science on Tap and the Philadelphia Science Festival.


To download images and/or see a video from last year’s ceremony, visit the About section on the Philly Geek Awards website.

Eric Smith, Co-founder, Geekadelphia and the Philadelphia Geek Awards, Phone: 908-764-9835,

Media Contact

Carolyn Belardo

Director of Public Relations
Phone: 215.299.1043