Scientists to discuss research over beer

Nothing goes better with a cold beer than scientific discussion. At least, that’s the idea behind Pint of Science, an event similar to the TED talks, but with beer.

“That’s the hook, right?” Parmvir Bahia, an organizer for the Pint of Science U.S. festival, said.

The festival, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, will run today through Wednesday in restaurants and bars across Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Each of the Tampa festival’s lectures are free to attend and hosted by what Bahia called a “merry band” of USF researchers, who will also help fundraise for the USF Moffitt Cancer Center. The Pint of Science Tampa team has a podcast that will feature lectures beyond those presented during the festival.

Academics from around the country will gather to discuss research with the public over a few drinks.

“We’re hoping that the beer will help foster some discussion,” Bahia said.

The goal of Pint of Science, she said, is to rekindle the general public’s interest in scientific research.

“When you’re in high school, you’re kind of bombarded with these kind of dry science facts and you cram them in your head and you regurgitate them for your exams — then you leave it all behind,” Bahia said.

The hope is that if people have another perspective on science, they will become more interested in it.”

“That and some of these places are offering beer specials,” she said.

Bahia, who is currently working as neuroscientist and research associate at USF, said shows like “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” a scientific documentary series hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, are re-popularizing having an interest in science.

“The last five years or so, as a scientist, you notice that a lot more people are picking up on scientific stories,” Bahia said.

The lectures will cover everything from cancer research to environmental science, featuring working scientists from all over the Tampa area.

Philip Gerlee, a scientist currently working on cancer research at the Moffitt Center, is presenting Wednesday night at Dough: Copper Room.

“I’ve talked at a science festival before, but that’s in a completely different setting,” Gerlee said. “I think it’s nice to sort of take it to a place where people usually go instead of making the public go to a lecture hall at the university, which is maybe a big step to take.”

During the event, Gerlee will explain what he does as a scientist and try to get people excited about science and all the complexity in the world he feels is taken for granted.

“I will talk about a specific model called ‘The Game of Life,’ which is a really simple model of complex systems that is easy to understand,” Gerlee said.

Bahia said one of the things she likes most about this event is that it will give the general public the opportunity to interact with scientists face to face and break down the stereotype of scientists being unreachable.

To reserve tickets and to see a full list of the festival’s events and locations, visit