Event Preview: Pint of Science 2022

Event Preview: Pint of Science 2022
1 year ago

Event Preview: Pint of Science 2022

The global Pint of Science scicomm festival returns this month (9-11 May), with science talks and workshops taking place in pubs, cafes and informal spaces all around the world. Since its launch in 2013 the festival has become a phenomenal success, offering a unique way for scientists to engage with the public away from the more ‘traditional’ science environments.

We spoke to three UK volunteers plus international director Elodie Chabrol to find out more about Pint of Science, why they got involved with the festival and what they’re looking forward to at this year’s events!


What is Pint of Science?

Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation which brings scientists and the general public together in informal spaces such as bars and cafes to discuss science research away from the formal settings of classrooms or laboratories. The idea came about in 2012 at Imperial College London when Dr Praveen Paul and Dr Michael Motskin held an informal ‘Meet the Researchers’ event which proved incredibly popular. The first official Pint of Science events took place the following year, and the idea quickly gained momentum, expanding into other countries around the world. The organisation now has events happening in over 500 cities around the globe!


Sam Rowe

Sam Rowe is a scientist and science communicator working on the Darwin Tree of Life Project at the Earlham Institute in Norwich, UK. He became a City Coordinator for Pint of Science in 2019 and is now involved in organising and promoting the various events taking place around Norwich alongside fellow coordinator Cansu Bayindirli.


What inspired you to get involved with Pint of Science?

I was inspired to get into Pint of Science as I love supporting big outreach and engagement projects in Norwich. The position of City Coordinator came up in 2019 and it’s been a huge privilege working with so many amazing volunteers and Cansu Bayindirli (the other City Coordinator here) on digital and in-person events over the past three years that have such a wide reach. I particularly like how the festival focuses on engaging with adult audiences and bringing researchers out to venues that people can feel relaxed in.


Why are festivals like Pint of Science so important?

Festivals like Pint of Science are important to help make research accessible to new audiences and give people an insight into the science taking place in their city. With the talks taking place in familiar pubs and venues around the city we’re hoping attendees will have lots of fun and feel comfortable asking loads of questions. We’re really keen to promote two-way conversations throughout the night and let people know how they can find out more about (and even get involved with) all the research projects in Norwich after the events.


Which events are you most looking forward to in Norwich this year?

Honestly I’m looking forward to all of the events in Norwich and it’s hard to highlight my favourites as all the talks sound so interesting. We’ve got four themes in Norwich - Planet Earth, Our Body, Beautiful Mind and Tech Me Out - covering topics like evolution, gene editing, nutrition, language development and biodiversity. Very excited to do a little pub crawl around all the venues on each night of the festival to support the organising teams!


Giulia De Rossi

Giulia De Rossi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Ophthalmology at UCL, London, UK. She has been involved with Pint of Science for several years, starting out as a coordinator for Queen Mary University of London before moving to her current role as London Chapter Manager in 2020.


What inspired you to get involved with Pint of Science?

The first Pint of Science event I attended was in 2013 and was organised by my friend Enrico from Imperial College. It was about epilepsy and the talks were given by a professor, a researcher, and a patient. It was amazing. Hearing their three different perspectives really gave the whole picture, and I immediately thought that that was a fantastic way of talking about science.


Why are events like Pint of Science so important?

There’s a lot of misconception about what researchers do in the lab or, sometimes, complete unawareness and this fuels bad policy-making in the government, amongst other things. Moreover, a lot of research in the UK is funded by charities so it’s only fair that donors are kept informed of what their donations have helped to achieve. Public engagement events like Pint of Science serve the great goal of making science more accessible to the public, not to mention they are also a great way of bringing people from the community together.


Which of the events are you most looking forward to in your area this year?

I live in London where there is so much to choose from! I’m planning on going to the event about the Irish giant genes at The Drapers Lounge (QMUL), it sounds fascinating. Plus, there is an interesting talk about a DIY smear test to detect HPV on the same night, so it sounds like a great deal to me. I will also go to the event organised by Kingston University about behavioural problems in adolescents. Growing up with a younger brother, I have a lot of questions! Another one that sounds super cool is the Roehampton event about how heat impacts exercise. I recently watched a programme about an ultra-marathon in the desert, so I’m curious to learn how the human body can work in those extreme conditions.


Emre Yavuz

Emre Yavuz is a Translational Neuroscience MSc graduate at Imperial College London, UK, and is a new volunteer with Pint of Science this year.


What inspired you to get involved with Pint of Science this year?

With the Omicron variant on the rise, many scientific events were still being held remotely, which spurred my interest in engaging with other scientists to find a way to have a significant and positive impact on the world. Having the desire to educate the wider community about the latest research at the frontiers of neuroscience, I got in touch with the manager of the Pint of Science team at Imperial College London, where I had recently completed my MSc in Translational Neuroscience.


What does your Pint of Science volunteer role involve?

As part of my role on the PoS team for Imperial College London, I have been involved with contacting potential guest speakers from a variety of different research backgrounds, finalising the timetable for the talks, as well as generating ideas for how to structure, advertise and host the events.


What are the themes of the talks at Imperial College this year?

We split this year’s talks into 3 themes – ‘AI and Neuroscience’, ‘Developing vaccines in the pandemic and beyond’ and ‘Recovering from the pandemic: The future of psychedelic science’. With the COVID-19 pandemic triggering a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, I felt it was entirely relevant to dedicate an evening to how psychedelic research can help treat psychiatric disorders, with a particular focus on the currently ongoing clinical trial at Imperial College London using psilocybin (a psychedelic drug), to treat Anorexia Nervosa – especially given that eating disorders having the highest rate of mortality of any psychiatric illness. Additionally, with psychedelic medicine being a new therapeutic paradigm in psychiatry, I felt that this would be a very exciting topic of discussion even for someone with no scientific background. With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digital transformation, I also felt that dedicating an evening to AI-based technology and how it can aid neuroscience research would provide a forward-thinking angle as to how we can leverage the tools available to us in order to carry out the most innovative and impactful research.


What do you think are the long-term goals for events like Pint of Science?

There are several goals which I hope Pint of Science will achieve. Firstly, recognising the importance of incorporating feedback from participants when carrying out my own scientific research, and I hope that these talks will inspire members of the public to participate in scientific studies which will allow for bigger studies with larger sample sizes so that stronger conclusions can be drawn. Secondly, and no less importantly, I hope that Pint of Science will inspire younger generations to embark on scientific careers through understanding how they can have a positive impact on society by undertaking great scientific research, and providing new angles to help solve previously unanswered questions.


Elodie Chabrol

Elodie Chabrol is a freelance science communicator and former neuroscience researcher who has been involved with Pint of Science since the very beginning. She is the founder of Pint of Science in France, and is now an International Director for the organisation.


What inspired you to get involved with Pint of Science?

I got involved at the very beginning when I received an email from Pint of Science UK who were looking for volunteers. I replied, and my timing was amazing because the person in charge of coordinating the UCL, London team had just quit – so I took on the role and was lucky enough to be part of the central team that created Pint of Science. Sharing science and everyday life as a scientist with the public really inspires me. I love having people meeting scientists all over the world.


What do you love most about being part of Pint of Science?

I love adding new countries to the map and, above all, I love seeing all the countries’ events on social media during the festival. I barely sleep because of the time zones involved, but I can’t put my phone down. It’s too amazing to see so many people enjoying science events everywhere in the world!


How do you see the international festivals growing?

My hope is to have a Pint of Science festival in every country, but also to grow events in small cities, not just the bigger ones that already have many scicomm opportunities. In France, we have events taking place in very small locations like mountain huts and villages this year, and it makes me super proud to bring science to these remote places.


Why should more scientists get involved with Pint of Science?

Because it’s a fun way to engage with the public and share your research and your life as a scientist. And also it’s well-supported by many science institutions, so it’s a win-win! Before PoS I didn’t do any science communication, at least not about my research. I organised events and conferences, but I never communicated to the public about my work. After founding PoS France, I realised that I never talked about my work – so I started doing it and loved it. Seeing so many good (and not-so-good) talks has taught me what to do (and what not to do). Now, I train scientists to talk to the public and all my experience comes from Pint of Science talks. A LOT of them!


What's been your most memorable Pint of Science moment?

There have been so many of them! I’d say every time I’ve seen the eyes of the public sparkle, my heart melts and that’s when I know why I love being involved with Pint of Science!


Get involved

Find out more about the upcoming Pint of Science 2022 festival and check out the events happening in your area! You can also sign up to the mailing list to find out more about starting a Pint of Science event in your country.


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