University of Mississippi students are in for a treat when they attend the monthly Oxford Science Café. They can hear about the latest developments in science, all while sipping on a beverage and munching on a pastry at the locally owned Lusa Bakery and Café.
“The talks are very good, and speakers are so good in explaining science in a way accessible to everybody,” said Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy and founder of the lecture series. “These are not the typical classroom lectures. And the subjects are modern research topics in physics, chemistry, medicine, biology, geology. We even had talks in history of science and archaeology. I think the talks offer a unique opportunity to learn science in a relaxing venue.
“People feel they can ask questions that they would be intimidated to ask in a typical lecture room. And what’s better than learning some science while sipping a good tea or coffee and eating a sweet Lusa’s pastry?”
Cavaglia explained how the Oxford Science Café got started, with the first lecture back in October 2011.
People feel they can ask questions that they would be intimidated to ask in a typical lecture room.
“I was invited to give a ‘science café’ talk for the public a few years ago in North Carolina,” he said. “It was actually a ‘science pub’ talk because it was held in a pub. It was a talk about black holes. At first I wasn’t sure how it would go … a talk in a pub? But it was very pleasant, the place was packed, people asked me many questions, everybody was relaxed. I was positively impressed, and I said to myself, ‘Why not try this in Oxford?’ I preferred to do [it] in a café rather than in a pub, I knew Lusa’s owners, and they were happy to host the events. That’s how the Oxford Science Café was born.”
On average, around 60 people from town as well as the university attend the evening events, which are sponsored by the UM Provost’s Office and Department of Physics and Astronomy and held during fall and spring semesters.
Speakers are drawn from Ole Miss and other institutions. Here’s a sampling of some of the lectures: