Local science cafe debuts in New Bedford

UMass Dartmouth Biology professor Jennifer Koop has partnered with Ann Parson, a local science writer, to bring the New Bedford Science Cafe to life, offering the chance for the general public to learn and engage with the scientific community.

headshot of Jen Koop

Local scientists, science writers, doctors, and concerned citizens have slowly maneuvered their way into downtown New Bedford to create a new science cafe. The cafe, which can take place in any local pub or restaurant, offers a chance for scientists to connect and to share their expertise while enjoying local cuisine with members of the community. “The main thing is to get New Bedford residents through the door and help them take notice in science,” Parson said.

Dr. Jennifer Koop, a UMass Dartmouth Biology professor, and Ann Parson, a local science writer, have teamed together to form the New Bedford Science Café (NBSC). “Science Cafes are popping up all over the world and provide an opportunity for the scientific community to engage with the general public,” Koop said. “The goal of these events is to provide an opportunity for the public and scientists to engage in dialogue in a relaxed atmosphere.”

The NBSC will hold monthly gatherings, with a new guest scientist and topic at each event. Other topics could include self-driving automobiles, animal intelligence, development of new batteries and energy storage, and bio-terrorism. Each event features a guest scientist who will provide a short introduction into their area of research or expertise, and then open the floor to a moderated discussion with the audience.

This format provides attendees with the opportunity to ask questions that they feel are important. “It’s never a powerpoint or a screen, the whole point is to get involved in a back and forth conversation or a Q and A, so people are really active,” Parson said.

The NBSC held its most recent event on Tuesday, June 13th at the Waterfront Grille in New Bedford. The guest speaker was Certified Professional Soil Scientist Peter Fletcher discussing his work “Hidden in the Dirt: South Coast soils past and present.”

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