The Athens Science Café is an outreach organization co-founded by Stephanie and Drew Pearl, Rishi R. Masalia, James Hataway, and Terry Hastings to improve public engagement with basic science. This continuing effort involves a once-monthly invited speaker who explains in layman’s terms, the essence of important scientific issues at various locations across Athens, GA. To date, ASC has put on 23 free to the public events, with an average head count of 150 patrons. These events cover a variety of scientific topics, including genetically modified organisms, space exploration and the evolution of Homo sapiens.
Functioning for over two years, sponsored events have hosted diverse audiences, varying in age, educational background, gender, and race, as well as providing opportunities for a diverse set of speakers, tied to universities, industry, and the regional community. Featured in the city news paper The Athens Banner Herald, and the University of Georgia Graduate School Magazine – Athens Science Cafe has been meet with enormous support.
Not a group to sit on its laurels, ASC is constantly striving to make science and scientists more accessible to the public. As such, ASC is working with various other outreach entities to create “Science Cafés” for elementary and high school students in Athens Clarke County, GA. Further, through ASC’s sizable Facebook and Twitter presence, they have become a hub for established and up-and-coming science groups looking to expand their audience.
Finally, with Jeffery B. Cannon and John Spiekerman, I have helped co-found the Athens Science Observer, a student organization aimed at improving science communication skills for graduate and undergraduate students. More details about the Observer can be found here.
Rishi R. Masalia serves as one of the organizers of the Athens Science Cafe. It should be noted that the Athens Science Cafe is a massive undertaking and involves many helping hands, including undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, UGA staff and faculty, and Athens, GA community members.