Virtual research café was the bee’s knees

Date 2.07.2020

The team behind a series of ‘science for the price of a cuppa’ research discussions are celebrating after a bumper turn-out for their first virtual café, which is now available to view online.

Dr Alison Ward, Researcher in the University’s Faculty of Health, Education and Society and colleague Ruth Hughes-Rowland are the people behind Northampton’s Café Scientifique*.

Since October last year they’ve hosted three open, public events where the latest thinking in scientific or healthcare research is shared with anyone who wishes to drop in.

There is a main talk led by noted experts in their field followed by the chance for people to ask questions and debate with them.

The events have been well-received by guests who attended in person or online and numbers have been growing with each event, nearly double taking part in the virtual café:

The Dementia Challenge

Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse & CEO of Dementia UK presented at the first ever Cafe Scientifique Northampton on The Dementia Challenge, one of the biggest health challenges of our time. Attendees came from all over the county and included carers, dementia patients, health representatives and academics.

Feedback included: “The talk was very informative and provided a good understanding of dementia and what we can do to support those living with dementia.”

What is the Sitting Disease?

An engaging, interactive event where the audience were asked to share their views and experiences of sitting on their health, led by UON’s Dr Declan Ryan.

Members of the public took part in exercises and learned about different ways to combat the ‘sitting disease’. This event drew an audience right across the age range, from 16 years of age and older.

Pollinators & Pollination: Nature and Society

The most recent event was the first virtual café and had a truly international flavour – attendees spanned a number of countries including Italy, Belgium, Colombia, Canada and the USA. It was led by UON expert Prof. Jeff Ollerton, who drew on his experiences of field work in South America, Africa, Australia, the Canary Islands and the UK, to offer a unique and personal insight into the science of pollinators and pollination.

Alison said of the café: “An author once said, ‘it’s the unknown that draws people’ and I think that explains perfectly why the café’s have been so popular. We’ve hosted free to access discussions about topics people may have heard of but want to know more about, from leaders in their various fields.

“We are all hungry for knowledge and it’s been an absolute pleasure taking science out of the lab and bringing it closer to our fellow Northamptonians and seeing and hearing how much they enjoy them. Ruth and I are already busy working on the next virtual café, so watch this space or contact us through our website for more.”

*Image is from a Cafe Scientifique held in Orlando, Florida.