Brews & Brains celebrated its One Year Anniversary at the Cove with talks from UCI Professors, drinks, and science trivia. The night began with opening remarks from co-founder and Mechanical Science graduate student researcher Mike Bryant.
Bryant discussed the group’s origins and presented a video from Sandra Tsing Loh, the host of science radio program “The Loh Down on Science”. Loh and her science communications class inspired Bryant and Pharmacology graduate student researcher, Nayna Sanathara, to create Brews & Brains. Since March 2015, the organization brings together UCI graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to help them augment their communication and public speaking skills. Every other Tuesday, they discuss their innovative research and practice presenting it in TED style talks in front of a supportive audience. “[To get better at communicating], you need to practice in a close knit group to bounce ideas”, says Bryant.
The event featured two UCI Professors who spoke about their research in ten minute TED- style talks. Dr. Stephen Mahler of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior spoke about mind control, optogenetics, artificial mind control through viruses, and its ethical concerns. “I believe virus- based clinical neuroscience [will be used] by 2065”, says Mahler. Dr. Tom Boellstorff gave a presentation on virtual worlds and human journeys. Boellstorff studies culture in virtual worlds and individuals’ experiences in them. In particular, he focuses especially on individuals with disabilities. On the Cove’s Hiperwall screen, he displayed the online virtual world Second Life where an audience gathered to listen to Boellstorff’s presentation and comment on certain aspects through the chat bar. In between speakers, Activate to Captivate founder Bri McWhorter conducted a friendly science trivia competition. The trivia rounds challenged teams created from guests at each table to answer questions in areas such as biology, physics, and earth science.
For the closing remarks, the members reflected on the past year by describing their favorite aspects of the organization. “It’s great to have scholars of different fields together to enjoy a brew and talk about some brainy stuff”, says Brews & Brains co-founder Sanathara.