University holds first monthly Science Cafe at Chelsea’s - News

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University holds first monthly Science Cafe at Chelsea’s

Students, faculty discuss findings

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:21 pm | Updated: 1:04 am, Thu Jan 31, 2013.

The University held its first Science Café at Chelsea’s Café on Tuesday night, a monthly event that will highlight a wide variety of scientific research done at the University in a casual setting.

Science Café offers students the opportunity to hear free presentations on scientific research as well as free food. The event takes place at 5 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at Chelsea’s Café.

The first gathering featured assistant professor and curator of ichthyology Prosanta Chakrabarty, who explained some of the research he has conducted regarding his discovery of a new species of fish in Louisiana.

Chakrabarty described his discovery of the Louisiana Pancake Batfish, a finding that made the International Institute for Species Exploration’s Top 10 New Species of 2011. Chakrabarty also discussed his travels to the Gulf of Mexico, the shores of Taiwan and the caves of Madagascar in search of new species.

“I think scientists need to communicate with the public in events like this because most of the public doesn’t have access to most of the scientific literature that is out there,” Chakrabarty said. “Having these public events means you can talk directly to the public to explain your work and hopefully make it less daunting.”

Although Science Café is new to the University, it’s not an entirely new idea, according to Ashley Berthelot, director of Research Communications.

“The idea of a science café has been around for a pretty long time,” Berthelot said. It originated in Europe and eventually made its way here to the States, she said.

Berthelot said the Science Café fills a void in today’s exposure.

“The average person doesn’t get exposed to science anymore,” she said. “Many newspapers don’t have science sections anymore,” which makes these type of events even more necessary, she said.

Berthelot also stressed that science ca n be interesting and engaging.

“Not all research is lab work — it’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s adventurous,” Berthelot said. “We want to make the sciences approachable and interesting.”

Sara Keinig, human sciences and education graduate student who attended the event, said she is excited about any event with a goal to communicate science.

“A lot of researchers have a hard time communicating what they are studying,” Keinig said. “I love an event that is all about communicating science.”

Keinig said she will probably be back every month.

“There’s free food, and I get to learn about new and interesting things,” she said.

Erik Vinson, criminology senior, said he came to the event to learn more about the research being done at the University.

“You always hear about all the research here at the University, but you don’t always hear exactly what they’re doing,” Vinson said. “This is a nice event to hear what type of research is being done at our university.”

Vinson said he is looking forward to next month’s Science Café because the event will focus on criminology.

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