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Science and Suds Meet at Sold-Out 'Pint of Science' Events

Pint of Science

Pour me another one, bartender...or is it pour me another one, doctor?

For the next three nights, scientists will take over bars in nine countries and 50 cities, including a trio of sold-out Tampa area locations, to discuss their work with the public over drinks.

"Pint of Science" was created four years ago in the United Kingdom, and brought over to the U.S. last year by USF Health Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology Research Associate Parmvir Bahia and her husband, Moffitt Cancer Center researcher David Basanta.

Bahia, who also serves as Pint of Science's U.S. Director, recently gave a TedxUSF talk where she spoke about why she feels there's such a demand for more "fun" conversations about science.

"Children have a lot of great science festivals to go to, they get to go to a lot of these things and they play around and they get to experience science firsthand," Bahia said. "I think as grown-ups, we don't lose our curiosity, but we really do want to be able to experience those things still and why not do it in somewhere that's our playground - namely the bar."

Kim Luddy, a Moffitt Cancer Center researcher, joined the Tampa Pint of Science team this year as City Coordinator. She said the concept of discussing science over drinks is one that comes naturally to a lot of scientists.

"Typically, whenever I go out and we get in the conversation with new people and you're having a pint and you're like 'What do you do?' and I tell them that I do cancer research, it turns into a 'pint of science' anyway," Luddy said. "People outside of science have all these questions for us and I love the idea that there was a venue where people could go and interact."

Presenters are challenged to find ways to talk about their work without depending on the "crutch" of PowerPoint - and make it interesting at the same time. At a Pint of Science talk at a Tampa bar last year, one biotechnology expert handed out stuffed animals and sprayed audience members with Silly String in a mock demonstration of how someone can contract the deadly infection, sepsis.

This year, presenters will again be speaking about a variety of topics, including many that apply to the local area, like how hurricanes effect our coastlines and the impact of invasive species (Tuesday night at The Amsterdam in St. Petersburg) and sinkholes and oil spills (Wednesday night at Southern Brewing and Winemaking in Tampa).

Researchers from USF and Moffitt will be well represented, with such speakers as Dr. Lindsey Shaw discussing antibiotic resistant bacteria and Dr. Lori Collins talking about her work using digital imaging to save cultural heritage pieces around the world (both talks take place tonight at the Tampa Tap Room in Carrollwood).

The local events are sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Captive Aire.

Reservations for seats at all nine free presentations have been claimed, but you can get on the mailing list for information about next year's "Pint of Science" by visiting their local website.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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