A Pint of Science

Pint of Science makes its Vancouver premiere under SFU

Image courtesy of news wire

By: Onosholema Ogoigbe, News Team Member

This week, SFU’s Department of Earth Science sponsored the first Pint of Science Festival in Vancouver. Pint of Science is a non-profit organization that brings some exceptional scientists to a local pub to talk about their latest research over a pint of beer with interested locals. According to city co-ordinator Elizabeth Dingle, who is currently undergoing her postdoc in Geography at SFU, the events are mostly volunteer-run with each theme getting three to four volunteers organizing venues and speakers.

The Pint of Science festival occurs every May, with occasional events run during other months. The organisation itself started in 2012 in the UK and the first Pint of Science events held in Canada were in 2016. This is Vancouver’s first year participating.

The event spanned over three days, May 20–22, with three event themes: Planet Earth, Our Body, and Beautiful Mind. On May 21, The Peak attended the Planet Earth themed event, titled “Where things are wetter: oceans and coasts” at Mahony & Sons. Both speakers, Simon Brandl and Jessica Pilarczyk, were affiliated with SFU.

Brandl, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of biological sciences, presented on cryptobenthic fish and coral reefs, their role in ecosystems, why they were important, and their relevance in conversations about climate change. When asked about his decision to partake in the event, Brandl admitted that he enjoys talking to the public about his research, though he does not often get to do so.

“Unfortunately, as scientists, we don’t often have the opportunity to talk in a public forum like [Pint of Science] so it was… a no-brainer,” said Brandl.

After Brandl’s presentation, there was a question period for the audience followed by a brief intermission and a science-based trivia game to engage festival-goers.

The second speaker of the evening was Jessica Pilarczyk, an assistant professor of earth sciences. Her presentation centred around tsunamis, and how future tsunamis can be anticipated using fossilized microorganisms living on the seafloor.

When asked why she wanted to speak at Pint of Science Vancouver, Pilarczyk responded by saying that she’d always liked the idea of making science “fun and informative.” She added that she considered the experience a “win-win” where those attending would learn something new and she in turn would be presented with questions that would make her “think and see her research in a different way.”

The event ended with questions for Pilarczyk, a brief note of thanks, recommendations to attend the next and last couple events of the series and a reminder to take home and plant the Pint of Science beer mats provided during the event.