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Coffeehouse discussions to bring science to public

by Cindy Weiss - February 5, 2007

The first in a series of Science Café coffeehouse discussions, featuring a panel of UConn faculty, will be held Sunday, Feb. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Starbucks in downtown Storrs.

Stem cell research is the topic of the first café, and the public is invited to join a conversation about it, says Mark Peczuh, assistant professor of chemistry and organizer of the discussions.

Peczuh obtained a grant from the American Chemical Society to run a series of Science Cafés in Storrs after he learned about similar cafés being held in New York, Cambridge, Mass., and the United Kingdom.

"The idea is to get the public broadly engaged in thinking about science and in being precise and accurate about what the science is," he says.

The café will feature free coffee, a short Nova video presentation on stem cells, brief comments by UConn faculty who are involved in stem cell research, and a discussion with the audience.

Faculty members participating are Dr. David Rowe of the UConn Health Center, who was recently awarded a major grant from state stem cell research funds; Anne Hiskes, associate professor of philosophy and director of research ethics reviews and education for UConn's stem cell research; Joanne Conover, assistant professor of physiology and neurobiology; and David Goldhamer, associate professor of molecular and cell biology.

Goldhamer is a member of the research team on a $3.5 million, three-year project, headed by Rowe, studying how embryonic stem cells might help rebuild bone, cartilage, skin, and muscle tissue.

Conover studies neural stem cell biology and its applications in neurodegenerative disease.

Peczuh plans three Science Cafés this semester. Provisional topics for the other two are fuel cells and alternative energy, and drug discovery.

For more information, please go to the website.

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