Jessica L. Ryan
Jessica L. Ryan

As many of you know, most of my nerd life is dedicated to helping plan the Conference on World Affairs, an annual conference hosted by CU that is basically the most kickass thing ever. I'm one of their student marketing coordinators, rockin' hashtags (ahem, #CWA2013) and Facebook posts, among other duties.

CWA is nerd paradise. More than 100 experts from fields ranging to nuclear physics to sex therapy participate in sessions and discuss everything conceivable, and it's 100 percent free and open to the public.

Oh, right. And it's next week.

On top of being an awesome opportunity for nerds from all walks of life, students get extra perks like a free brunch with participants on Monday morning (head over to the UMC fountains around 10:30 to get your grub on) and priority for asking questions and entering popular panels. Score!

There are around 200 different sessions, but I've decided to pick the nerdiest panel of each day to share with you. Check out the full schedule at

Monday: Vampires!

1-2:20 p.m., UMC Center Ballroom

From "Twilight" to "True Blood," Vampires are a pretty established part of the American psyche. This session features Margot Adler, Michael Almereyda and Ross Haenfler, who will be bringing various perspectives to the table, from religion to films to the role vampires play in youth subcultures.

Tuesday: Superheroes!

9:30-10:50 a.m., UMC Gallery


What nerd doesn't love superheroes? With this summer's return of both Iron Man and Wolverine, there's a lot going on in the superhero world. This panel features David Bender, Jim Borgman (co-creator of the "Zits" comic strip) and G. Willow Wilson, a Boulder High alumna who has found success writing comic books.

Wednesday: Revenge of the Nerd: Nate Silver Got It Right

9:00-10:20 a.m., UMC East Ballroom

Do I even need to explain why this panel's great for nerds? Panelists Mary Hughes, Neil King, Jr., Jurek Martin and Jon Sinton will be discussing the success of the FiveThirtyEight blogger and statistician who correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states in last year's presidential election.

Thursday: Dating for Dummies

3:30-4:50 p.m., UMC East Ballroom

While nerds aren't necessarily all dummies when it comes to dating, sometimes we need a little help. The Conference's dating panels are constantly some of the best-liked among attendees. Michael Chorost, Abby Rapoport and Jenni Schaefer each come from incredibly different backgrounds, which makes for a promising discussion.

Friday: Halo and Jigsaw: Blaming Violence on the Screens

10:30-11:50 a.m., Eaton Humanities 1B50

Video games and movies are a huge part of nerd life. But are they to blame for violence in society? From sociologist Ross Haenfler to scientist Jeff Lieberman, to entertainment industry pros Steve Sauer and Howard Schultz, this panel will definitely make you think about the impact of what we consume, and possibly even provide a new perspective or two to ponder.

Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. She tweets at @JessicaLRyan but will be live-tweeting #CWA2013 from @JessRyanCU.