‘Pint of Science’ debuts in Groningen

The ‘Pint of Science’ initiative began in small UK pub back in 2013 and quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon. This week, it came to Groningen. RUG scientists shared a glass with pub-goers in Café the Crown.
By Megan Embry / Photo by Felipe Luís F. Silva

You might think that the last thing you want to do at a bar is listen to some guy talk about enzymes. But what if he told you how to brew a tea to combat your own natural enzymes so that you could get a better high? ‘There are some fun takeaways in the work I do’, says PhD student Friso Aalbers, from the FSE. On Tuesday night, he captivated pub-goers with a low key interactive lecture about his research. People drank, asked questions, and walked away knowing something new.

Ivory tower

That’s the whole idea behind ‘Pint of Science’, says RUG postdoc Simone Savino, who heads up the Groningen team. ‘The talks are meant to be accessible; anyone can wander in off the street and hear something interesting. It gets scientists out of the ivory tower and into the streets.’

When Savino arrived in Groningen from Italy last January, he noticed there was no ‘Pint of Science’ chapter here. There were some similar events hosted by Studium Generale, but he and his colleagues thought it would be good to have something internationally organised as well.

‘The talks are fun; they give you a general idea of how the science works and how it affects everyday life – why it really matters to you’, he says. The pub is a place where ‘nerdy’ becomes relevant. ‘It’s also a good way to discover you’re interested in things you didn’t even know about.’

Big plans

Tuesday night’s talks by Alejandro Gran Scheuch and Friso Aalbers – who discussed bacteria and enzymes, respectively – were a hit. Carla, a RUG student from Spain who studies marine biology, says: ‘beer and science – my two favorite things! The talks were really informal, I think anyone could understand and enjoy them.’

But Tuesday night was just a teaser; the main event will be in May, when pubs all over town (and the world) will host talks ‘by big shot scientists’ simultaneously over a period of three days, says Savino.

‘I can’t tell you who we’ve got lined up yet’, says Savino. ‘But we have some really big plans.’


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