Have you been looking for an informal get-together to talk about science over a coffee (or something stronger)? Well, look no further than the Beverley Science Café: our local Hull branch of the international network Café Scientifique. This unique monthly science escape aims to present the latest “hot-button” topics in science and technology in a way that is accessible for everyone, while encouraging questions and informal discussion.
The Beverley Science Café meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm in the upstairs function room at “Nellies” (aka. The White Horse Inn) in Beverley. A typical session consists of a short talk (20-30 minutes) by an invited guest speaker, followed by a Q&A session. Aside from the venue, you’ll find the Science Café talks are different to conventional university lectures, as speakers are asked to make their presentation without using PowerPoint! A welcome omission for anyone experiencing PowerPoint fatigue.
Each meeting usually finishes around 9pm, but attendees are welcome to stay for as long as they would like. The Beverley group averages around 30-40 attendees from many different backgrounds, including students. They have a group of regulars who attend every session, regardless of the topic, as well as people with a specific interest who come on a ‘one-off’ basis to hear a particular speaker’s talk.
The Beverley chapter was founded five years ago by Mark Lorch, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Hull, and since Spring 2016, has been in the capable hands of three co-chairs: Dr Natasha Bhatia, Estuarine Ecologist and Socio-Economist at the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies; Dr Isabel Pires, Lecturer in Biomedical Science and Head of the Hypoxia and Tumour Microenvironment lab, and Dr Gareth Few, Research Fellow at the E.A Milne Centre for Astrophysics.
Dr Natasha Bhatia told us: “Café Scientifique is great way of learning more about a topic you’re interested in, or learning something completely different, in an informal way. Speakers are encouraged to present their topic in an accessible style, which means we get a wide range of people in the audience – this always makes for interesting discussions!”
Previous topics discussed at the Beverley Science Café include stem cells, heart disease, personalised medicine, nanotechnology, climate change, and even aliens! Last month’s guest speaker was Ann Hutchinson, Research Fellow in Palliative Oncology at HYMS, who talked about her research on ‘living with breathlessness’.
Ann told us: “I was very pleased to be offered the chance to speak at the Café Scientifique because it is a place where members of the public can come to learn about our research, and we can see their response to our work.
“I spoke about the experience of living with breathlessness: something very few people know anything about and yet it affects millions of people in the UK! There are widespread effects of living with breathlessness that can make it a difficult experience, but also many ways of coping that can improve quality of life: moderate exercise, pacing activities, using a hand-held fan, keeping socially active, and seeking support from family, friends and healthcare professionals.”
Beverley Science Café has a diverse programme of talks lined-up for the next few months:
28th September: ‘The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) of making babies’ by Constantine Simintrias (Hull York Medical School)
26th October: ‘Extinctions – Who Cares?’ – Mark Avery (Environmental Writer & Consultant)
30th November: ‘Are our seas walking the plank?’ – Alisdair Naulls (Marine Conservation Society)
For pub quiz enthusiasts, they are also planning a ‘Science Christmas Quiz’ for mid-December.
The Beverley group’s co-chairs emphasise that everyone is welcome at any of their meetings irrespective of scientific knowledge or level of study. To me, this seems like the perfect opportunity for students to explore a little further and outside their set studies in a friendly environment. So, why not come along to one of their upcoming sessions and get a taste of science for the price of a coffee.
For further information about the Beverley Science Café, you can contact the organisers via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), twitter (@Bev_Cafe_Sci) or Facebook (Facebook.com/Beverleyscience).
If you would like to attend the 28th September meeting of the Beverley Science Café and would like to travel in a group with other HYMS students, please feel free to drop me an email (hyaa16).
Alexandra Abel is a medical student at HYMS. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, and ukulele playing.