University of Mississippi

At Ole Miss

Hunger for Knowledge


Get your cannolis with a side of antihydrogen at monthly Science Café


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:

  • “My Memories of the Higgs Boson,” Lucien Cremaldi, UM chair and professor of physics and astronomy (Cavaglia said this lecture was jam-packed with attendees because the discovery of the Higgs boson – aka the “God particle” – had been announced a few weeks before.)
  • “Energy Production in Mississippi through Hydraulic Fracturing,” Greg Easson, director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute and UM professor of geology and geological engineering (Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, has prompted environmental concerns, and Cavaglia said this lecture gave attendees a chance to learn about the pros and cons of fracking from a professional geologist in a scientific and balanced way.)
  • “Synthesizing, Trapping and Probing Antihydrogen,” Jonathan Wurtele, physics professor of the University of California at Berkeley
  • “Gravitational Wave Astronomy: The New Observational Window to the Universe,” Nairwita Mazumder, visiting postdoctoral fellow in the UM physics department
  • “Treasures from the Sea: Drug Discovery in the Marine Environment,” Marc Slattery, UM professor of pharmacognosy
  •  “Sound: It’s So Much More than What We Hear,” Cecille Labuda, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy

For more information about the Oxford Science Café, visit the Oxford Science Cafe. For more information about Lusa Bakery and Café, go here.

Next Story

Back to top