Davis Science Café on December 10th: Dr @PCRonald Serves Up the Future of Food


The popular public series Davis Science Café will serve up a conversation on “Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food” at its next event on December 10th.

“Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food”
Davis Science Café

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
VENUE CHANGE: de Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis, CA 95616
Info: www.facebook.com/groups/davissciencecafe/
Free to attend
Complimentary soft drinks
(Courtesy UCD Department of Math and Physical Sciences)

The conversation will be led by Professor Pamela C. Ronald with the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at UC Davis. She also serves as Director of Grass Genetics at the Joint Bioenergy Institute, and is an author of the book Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food.

Beth Ruyak interviewed Dr. Ronald on Wednesday morning’s edition of Insight to preview the evening’s event. Listen here: www.capradio.org/news/insight/2014/12/10/insight-121014b.

Dr. Ronald’s lab is best known for their innovations in developing rice strains for disease and flooding resistance. A long-time science communicator, Ronald has written commentary for the Boston Globe—a piece that won her a Science in Society Journalism Award from the National Association of Science Writers—and for The EconomistNew York Times, and Scientific American Blogs. She tweets at @pcronald.

Keep up with the Davis Science Café on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/davissciencecafe, browse past café topics at www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes/davis-science-cafe, and check out other local science cafés at www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes!

Lodi “Science Night Live” Returns December 3rd with an Evening of Carbon Dating

SNL December

Lodi’s very own science café series, Science Night Live with the WOW, will return in December with guest John Knezovich of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Carbon Dating: Old Ages and Present Uses”
Science Night Live with the WOW
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
World of Wonders Science Museum
2 North Sacramento Street, Lodi 95240
Info: http://wowsciencemuseum.org/science-night-live/
RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/812008968859038/
Free to attend
Food and beverages available for purchase

Dr. John Knezovich is the Director of University Relations & Science Education at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and also is an adjunct Professor of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis. Knezovich will guide a conversation on “Carbon Dating: Old Ages and Present Uses”.

Debuting in November 2014, Science Night Live is the latest science café series joining the local public science scene. The evening science experience is organized by the World of Wonders Science Museum and are being held on the first Wednesday of each month. Browse our photo gallery and coverage of the inaugural SNL evening, and learn more about local science cafés at www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes.

Museum’s ‘Science Night Live’ Livens Up Downtown Lodi

An eager crowd filled up on tacos and science at the premiere of
An eager crowd filled up on tacos and science at the premiere of “Science Night Live” at the WOW Science Museum in Lodi on November 5, 2014.

Months in the planning, the World of Wonders Science Museum in Lodi at last debuted its new science café series on Wednesday, November 5th. The premiere of “Science Night Live” drew a healthy attendance—all eager to learn about the science of organic chemistry.

“So what is organic chemistry? Can anyone take a guess?” asked Dr. Jared Shaw, the UC Davis chemistry professor who served as the series’ inaugural speaker. “Well, I’ll tell you this… it’s not extra-expensive chemistry you can only buy at Whole Foods.”

UC Davis Chemistry Professor Jared Shaw was the guest for the first-ever Science Night Live event in Lodi.
UC Davis Chemistry Professor Jared Shaw was the guest for the first-ever Science Night Live event in Lodi.

That set the lighthearted tone for the night, which drew laughs and “aaaahs” from the rapt audience. Over the course of the evening, Shaw explained the history and future of organic chemistry and how it intersects with everyday life, from aspirin to airport security, to gin and tonics and antibiotics.

It’s familiar territory for Shaw, who happens to be the founder and organizer of the popular Davis Science Café series.

“I really enjoyed working with Nick and World of Wonder to kick off their science café series,” says Shaw. “I’ve found that many people really enjoy hearing about science, but don’t have the opportunity to do so outside of a classroom.”

Shaw is referring to Nick Gray, the brain behind Science Night Live and the Education Program Coordinator at the WOW Science Museum. A recent arrival to the Capital Region, Gray had been seeking to replicate the science cafés and trivia nights he had hosted while living in Ohio. A web search led him to connect with Capital Science Communicators and Shaw’s Davis Science Café.

“I think the inaugural Science Night Live went well, considering it was a first for pretty much everyone involved except the speaker,” says Gray. “The energy was high, the presentation was fascinating, and the food was spectacular—definitely a good foundation to build upon!”

Interaction was an emphasis for the evening. Shaw brought a variety of props to pass around the audience, including herbs, vials, molecular models, and participants even built their own chemical models using Dots candy and toothpicks.

“It’s great to convey to people the interesting experiments that we’re doing in the lab and how they might help address real-world problems,” says Shaw. “Also, I think many people can connect to the idea of building things, which is why I love the Tinkertoy analogy for synthetic chemistry.”

Intriguingly, missteps by participants in the model assembly became teaching moments for Shaw, who explained how even slight errors in lab-created chemical structures can have drastic consequences—perhaps the difference between creating a harmful teratogen, or unexpectedly inventing a new antibiotic.

The museum is embracing this participatory public experience, and already has scientist speakers scheduled for coming months.

“​The World of Wonders Science Museum is thrilled to bring its very own ​spin on a ​“science café”, Science Night Live​,​ to Lodi,” says Sally Snyde, President of the WOW Science Museum. “We look forward to engaging local scientists and adults in casual conversation all about the world around them through science. ​I love the informal atmosphere and hands-on experience where everyone is encouraged to participate.”

Interested in future science café events? Head to our Local Science Cafés guide to learn more: www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes and also visit www.wowsciencemuseum.org/science-night-live for SNL news.

“Science Night Live” Science Café Series Launches November 5th in Lodi, Calif.

SNL November

Live from Lodi, it’s Science Night!

Starting November 2014, science enthusiasts in the Capital and Sacramento Valley region will have another science café series to follow. Science Night Live is the latest evening science experience offering to spring up in our area, thanks to the World of Wonders Science Museum in Lodi.

The first-ever SNL event will be Wednesday, November 5th at 6:00 p.m. at the WOW Science Museum (2 North Sacramento Street, Lodi 95240). Fittingly, the inaugural guest will be Professor Jared Shaw of the UC Davis Department of Chemistry, who will chat about “Chemical Tinker Toys: How to Build New Antibiotics and Other Useful Molecules” that evening. Shaw, of course, is the founder and current host of the popular Davis Science Café series.

Details for the event can be found at www.wowsciencemuseum.org/upcoming-events. The event is free, but please RSVP via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1561047157458724/

The new SNL evening science series is the brainchild of Nick Gray, Education Program Coordinator at the WOW Science Museum. A recent arrival to the Capital Region, Gray had experience planning science cafés and trivia nights while living in the Dayton, Ohio, community, and now initiates and coordinates science education programs for the museum.

Gray took a moment to tell us more about the inspiration behind his new public science series:

LogoTransCapSciComm: Tell us about Science Night Live. What’s your vision for this science cafe series, and who should come out and participate?

Gray: Anyone with a curious mind should definitely make Science Night Live a part of their plans every month! SNL aims to promote a greater understanding and appreciation within our community of scientific ideas and discoveries through entertaining, engaging interactions with local scientists, their research, and areas of expertise.

CapSciComm: Why did you feel it was important to start and bring an evening science experience to the Lodi community?

Nick Gray: Besides just being fun to learn new things, in a world more reliant upon science and technology than ever before, scientific literacy among the population is crucially important. It affects everything from the public policy we legislate to the choices we make about our families.

CapSciComm: How did you come into a career of science education? What do you feel are some joys and challenges of enabling science outreach?

Gray: I have a degree in biology, but I discovered a felicity in science education following university as an AmeriCorps volunteer. After nearly a decade of teaching science in the classroom, I’ve come to the World of Wonders Science Museum to try to broaden the scope of my passion for scientific literacy. It can be difficult at times because many folks see science as only relevant to scientists. As I told all my students, though, I have no delusions of turning everyone I meet or teach into scientists, but I do strive for a future wherein more people appreciate the wonder of the natural world and can make well-informed decisions as citizens of this planet.

CapSciComm: The WOW Science Museum opened in 2009, but might be still a new name for some folks. What can visitors expect for their families when they come by the museum during the day?

Gray: The WoW is all about hands-on discovery! Whether it’s the over 60 exhibits on the museum floor, our on-site and travelling education programs, or even our science-based birthday parties, we think the best way to learn something new is to do something new. That ethos runs through Science Night Live as well! Every SNL event will include an activity related to the topic of the evening.

CapSciComm: Thank you for your time, Nick!

Nick Gray can be reached at nick@wowsciencemuseum.org.

To learn more about science cafés in the Capital Region, visit our Local Science Café portal: www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes


Davis Science Café on November 12th @CityHallTavern: Sea Otters and Ecosystem Health

The next Davis Science Café will feature U.S. Geological Survey geneticist Liz Bowen, who will explain what sea otters can tell us about marine ecosystem health.

Sea otters may just seem like cute and fluffy animals, but their bodies offer clues to the condition of coastal waters—the same waters that humans use, play, and work in. Bowen, a USGS researcher based on the UC Davis campus, will explain how RNA in blood and tissue samples collected from wild sea otters can serve as indicators of environmental change.

The café will start at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 12th. Look for us at City Hall Tavern inside Bistro 33, at 226 F Street in Davis.

You can listen to a preview of tonight’s café conversation in this clip from Insight with Beth Ruyak on Capital Public Radio: www.capradio.org/news/insight/2014/11/12/insight-111214b/

Learn more about local science cafés here: www.capscicomm.org/local-science-cafes and Like the Davis Science Café on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/davissciencecafe



Field research videos mentioned in Dr. Bowen’s café conversation:


October Events: Davis Science Cafe on 10/9; Networking Social on 10/28


The seasons may be turning, but the science fun is here to stay!

Here’s our lineup of science communications events for the month of October. Bookmark them in your calendar, and we’ll see you around the region:


Capital Science Communicators Networking Social
Tuesday, October 28th
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
de Vere’s Irish Pub
1521 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

We are back for another happy hour meetup at de Vere’s in Sacramento. We pushed this month’s social to the final week to coincide with the 2014 Bay-Delta Science Conference, and we welcome any attending science journalists, bloggers, staffers, and other communicators to join us down the street for some networking and downtime after the day’s work.

As always, our meetups are open to any professionals and students who have an interest in communicating science, whether you’re a researcher, journalist, blogger, photographer, filmmaker, artist, designer, teacher, librarian, advocate, policy adviser, entrepreneur… the list goes on. Wherever science communications can make a difference, join us to explore your connection!

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) holds a model of a fictional tesseract in the Marvel movie The Avengers.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) holds a model of a fictional tesseract in the Marvel movie The Avengers.

Davis Science Café
Wednesday, October 8th
5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
City Hall Tavern @ Bistro 33
226 F St, Davis, CA 95616

This month’s café speaker is UC Davis Professor of Mathematics Jesús A. De Loera, who will lead a conversation on the “Simple Yet Unsolved Problems in Geometry” that evening.

But don’t let the math scare you away! In a fantastic interview on Insight with Beth Ruyak, Dr. De Loera passionately explains that “mathematics is beautiful” and that he’ll teach us how to see these math patterns in famous art works of Salvador Dalí and M.C. Escher. He’ll prove to us that math is “beautiful, fun, and useful.” People may be “afraid of mathematics” and feel it’s a “torture chamber”, yet Dr. De Loera feels that it can be relevant and useful in everyday use–and that even simple puzzles like Sudoku can be related to complex mathematical research.

Listen to the rest of the interview on Capital Public Radio (http://www.capradio.org/news/insight/2014/10/08/insight-100814b/), including our guest’s views on STEM education and minority communities as an “issue of social justice.”

And if you need further push to come listen to a math talk, look no further than strange model that Professor De Loera is holding in the poster photo. Comic book movie fans may recall this as the mysterious “tesseract” cube of power that had to be rescued from evil hands in Captain AmericaThor, and Marvel’s The Avengersin fact a real geometric shape with its own mysteries.

So come by and have a brew or beverage, and learn about this and other secrets from the beautiful science of math and geometry!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And if you can’t get enough science, here’s an event at UC Davis we’d like to draw your attention to:

10603344_642413462249_4756605947800726650_nLASER-UC DAVIS
(Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous)
Thursday, October 9th, 2014
7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
3001 PES (Plant and Environmental Sciences)
UC Davis Campus

Organized by doctoral researcher Anna Davidson, these LASER events explore the intersection between art and science, whether it’s using art to interpret and communicate scientific ideas, or art used to explore and visualize scientific questions.

Happy October, everyone!

Davis Science Café–September 10th, 2014, City Hall Tavern (Downtown Davis)

The next Davis Science Café will feature UC Davis chemistry professor Peter Beal, who will talk about RNA, the lesser known cousin of DNA.

Long thought to be “just a messenger”, recent research has illuminated myriad roles for this important biomolecule and uncovered new ways to treat many diseases. Oh, and that “primordial soup” from which life emerged? The main ingredient was probably RNA!

The café will start at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10th, at a new location. Look for us at City Hall Tavern inside Bistro 33, at 226 F Street in Davis.


Recap of #ESA2014 SciComm Celebration in Sacramento

This month, Capital Science Communicators played host to scientists and science communicators from around the country attending the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, from August 10th through the 15th.

The week of festivities opened and closed with science communications events, including workshops held as part of #ESA2014. The Society also contributed to our CapSciComm-hosted events for the week, advertising our happy hour mixer in Sacramento, and nominating guest speakers for Jared Shaw’s Davis Science Café:

This being the first national scientific conference to come through Sacramento in some time — and the first since the inception of CapSciComm — it was proof that our local community could play host and offer a hotspot for scientists and communicators to network and innovate together. Hopefully, more scientific conferences will find their way to the Capital Region in years to come!

Click through the Storify below for a Twitter timeline of the week’s events:

August 10-15: @CapSciComm Welcomes #ESA2014 with Science Communications Events and Happy Hour

The Ecological Society of Americaone of the most prominent scientific societies in the country — is coming to town this August, hosting its 2014 Annual Meeting at the Sacramento Convention Center from August 10th through the 15th.

The #ESA2014 conference week will have many events that our local community can participate in — including our monthly Networking Social and the Davis Science Café. CapSciComm members have been coordinating with ESA communications officer and former Sacramento Bee science writer Liza Lester on these activities.

Keep checking back on this blogpost for updates and details about the week’s events!



Free Media Passes for Working Journalists
Sacramento Convention Center

The ESA is waiving conference registration fees for reporters with a recognized press card and for current members of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA), the International Science Writers Association, and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). Other working journalists and freelancers also welcome, with proof of credentials. ESA is also waiving registration fees for institutional press officers. Please check the ESA conference press page for details.

To register as a member of the media, or for questions on qualifications, contact Liza Lester.


Text MarkCapital Science Communicators Happy Hour
TUESDAY, August 12 | 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
de Vere’s Irish Pub, SACRAMENTO

We’ve scheduled our August networking social to coincide with #ESA2014 — and we welcome all attending journalists, bloggers, or any other interested attendees to meet up with our local group! Our monthly gatherings are way for professionals and students who have an interest in communicating science to meet and mingle, uniting writers, photographers, scientists, filmmakers, artists, teachers, librarians, policy advisers, entrepreneurs…the list goes on. For our out-of-town guests, if you’ve ever been to a SCONC, DCSWA, or Science Writers mixer, you’ll know what we’re about.

Open to the public. Free to attend. No-host bar/food. For questions, contact CapSciComm Admins.


10527613_10201888056158122_2626224179565539919_nDavis Science Café
WEDNESDAY, August 13 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
de Vere’s Irish Pub, DAVIS

The Davis Science Café for August will be jointly hosted by ESA, featuring not one but two speakers from the ESA membership! The society held a contest for ecologists to pitch their public lecture ideas, yielding two winners: Professor Madhusudan Katti of Fresno State, whose talk on urban wildlife will be “These Are Not Your Urban Lawn Flamingos!”; and doctoral candidate Simon Brandl of James Cook University, whose talk on reef ecosystems will be “Butcher, Baker, Brewer-Fish”. The #DavisSciCafe was founded by Professor Jared Shaw, and is sponsored by the the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Sciences and the UC Davis Chemistry Department.

Open to the public. Free to attend. Appetizers/soft drinks provided. For questions, contact Jared Shaw or Liza Lester.


cropped-beyond-the-written-word_workshop-banner_v12_website“Beyond the Written Word”
Workshop on Ecology Communication Through Multimedia

SUNDAY, August 10 | Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Sacramento Convention Center, Room 301

Are you a researcher who wants to dip your toe into the world of public outreach? Are you a seasoned communicator eager to share your tips and secrets with newbies? Then sign up for this #ESA2014 workshop (website | abstract). Chris Creese (freelance), Holly Menninger (North Carolina State University), Bethann G. Merkle (CommNatural), Clarisse Hart (Harvard Forest) and others will guide this interactive “tasting tour” of tools and techniques to bolster your science storytelling skills. Folks of all levels of communications experience are welcome in this afternoon of co-teaching and exploring — and participants will get to practice reporting skills throughout the conference week and publish stories to the ESA EcoTone blog.

Open to registered conference attendees and members of media only. Free to attend. For questions, contact Holly Menninger.


“Is Anybody out There Listening?”
Workshop on Measuring Success in Science Communication

THURSDAY, August 14 | 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Sacramento Convention Center, Room 204

Successful science communication can lead to more citations, more funding, and greater impact on policy decisions. But what empirical evidence is there to indicate the most effective methods? How do we evaluate communication success? And what does “success” mean for scientists and science communicators? This #ESA2014 workshop (abstract) will explore the question with panelists from science journalism, media studies, science communication trainer, citizen science, crowd-funded science, and environmental advocacy. Organizers and speakers include Liza Lester (ESA Communications Office), Katie Burke (American Scientist/Sigma Xi), Holly Menninger (North Carolina State Unviersity), and Virginia Gewin (freelance).

Open to registered conference attendees and members of media only. Free to attend. For questions, contact Liza Lester.


IGNITE Session on Science Communication
FRIDAY, August 15 | 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 1.m.
Sacramento Convention Center, Room 313

Connecting people with our science is both easier and more challenging to do than ever. There’s a broad range of tools and creativity to deploy, and increasingly subdivided attention spans to tap into. This #ESA2014 workshop (abstract) will explore some tools and strategies for working scientists to consider as they explore ways to connect their science with different audiences, with IGNITE-style, short presentations from a number of speakers.

Open to registered conference attendees and members of media only. Free to attend. For questions, contact Sandra Chung.


There are many more sessions and events at #ESA2014 related to science communications, science education (K-12 and higher), and science literacy. Search the conference program to explore: http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/meeting.html

CapSciComm sign3x

Next CapSciComm meetup + Davis Science Café = July 9th @deVeresDavis


Someday, your newspaper might end up in your gas tank!

Biofuels and the future of energy is the topic of the next Davis Science Café, to be held in concert with our next CapSciComm meetup, which rotates back to Davis for July.

Capital Science Communicators
Networking Social
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Science Café 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Networking Social 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
de Vere’s Irish Pub
217 E Street,
Davis, CA 95616
Both events in back room

The Davis Science Café is a long-running science outreach series founded and organized by Professor Jared Shaw. Snacks are sponsored by the the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Sciences and the UC Davis Chemistry Department. The café portion is 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The speaker this month is UC Davis Professor Mark Mascal. Mascal’s research group studies the conversion of plant biomass into organic molecules of interest as fuels and value-added products, among other chemistry research questions. Will scientists ever be able to squeeze a litre of gasoline from a stack of newspapers? We’ll find out!

BqWoDaYCEAA3Fl3Our CapSciComm mixer follows from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Come by to meet familiar faces and new colleagues, trade story ideas and professional tips, and kick back and have a good time after work.

We had a great time at our June meetup in Sacramento, celebrating our one-year anniversary with faces and friends from UC Davis, California Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Capital Public Radio, Davis Enterprise, California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, and other orgs. We also welcomed Rachel Reddick, who is the AAAS Mass Media science journalism fellow posted to The Sacramento Bee for summer 2014.

As always, our meetups are open to any professionals and students who have an interest in communicating science, whether you’re a researcher, journalist, blogger, photographer, filmmaker, artist, designer, teacher, librarian, advocate, policy adviser, entrepreneur… the list goes on.

Wherever science communications can make a difference, join us to explore your connection!

CapSciComm sign3x