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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Learn science over drinks

    Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildca
    Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat 3rd year PhD candidate in adaptive agricultural systems in arid Americas America Lutz presents “Watersheds and Social-Sheds” during one of four installments of UA’s Science Cafe at Borderlands Brewing Company on Thursday, Oct 9.

    Interested in research across the UA? Come hear about it over a beer. The UA is bringing science to the general public through its science café series. 

    The science cafés provide an opportunity for the Tucson community to interact with UA scientists and hear about their research in a casual setting.

    “If you talk to people at other institutions, they’ve heard of [the] UA’s research, but a lot of times our community isn’t aware of that,” said Shipherd Reed, operations and communications manager for the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium and coordinator for the downtown science café at Magpie’s Gourmet Pizza. “This is a way to fix that.”

    The informal setting provides a space for the public to learn about science that isn’t a lecture hall or classroom. There isn’t the physical barrier of the stage, and audience members are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the scientist.

    As a result of the casual setting and decreased distance between the scientist and the audience, science cafés tend to be more dialogue than lecture.

    “It’s a human interaction, not a knowledge transfer,” Reed said.

    The program has grown from the original downtown science café series to include three additional series at Borderlands Brewing Company, SaddleBrooke and Tumamoc Hill.

    A committee decides the themes for each semester and finds scientists to speak at the cafés. In some cases, a department will be interested in doing a science café and approach the committee, Reed said.

    Each series has its own theme and attracts a different crowd. 

    “They are all based off the success of the original downtown model,” Reed said.

    Borderlands Brewing Company is host to the environmentally themed lecture series. Borderlands Brewing Company is owned by Michael Mallozzi, a microbiology graduate student, and Myles Stone, a medical student at the UA.

    Mallozzi and Stone are interested in science and community outreach and approached the UA about having science cafés, said Erin Deely, science administrator and coordinator for the Borderlands Brewing Company science cafés.

    The Borderlands series is the only series that has graduate students present rather than professors and scientists. Specifically, it is one of many venues that Carson scholars use to discuss their research of environmental issues. The Carson Scholars Fund ­— named for environmentalist Rachel Carson — is awarded to students to help fund their research.

    America Lutz Ley, a third-year graduate student in arid lands resource sciences and a Carson Scholar, recently led a science café on watersheds at the Borderland Brewery series. She said that she found it difficult to translate her academic research for a broader audience but found the experience valuable.

    “The more you can take your knowledge outside of a university or laboratory to reach the people, the more you’re increasing the possibility of actually making a change in the way people see their reality,” Ley said.

    The science cafés teach the public about science, but often the researchers learn something, too.

    “It’s a good reminder for researchers that there’s a big public out there that’s hungry for knowledge, that’s curious about how the world works and [that] wants to know more,” Reed said.


    Follow Amy Nippert on Twitter.

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