About SCI Cafe
SCI Café: Since 2013, SCI Cafés have been conducted on an ongoing basis, enabling UTMB scientists to engage in casual dialogs with community members regarding translational science. Topics were originally identified by a community survey that revealed common areas of interest, including but not limited to environmental estrogens, environmental exposures related to flooding and storm surge, infectious diseases, diet and nutrition, obesity, diabetes, aging, women’s health, and ethical issues. We have partnered with four venues to host the sessions to date. While we had initially intended to utilize only one venue at a local coffeehouse, we expanded to other sites at the behest of community groups. For example, a not-for-profit organization that serves numerous African-American faith-based organizations in the Galveston area specifically requested a series on African-American participation in research, and another series on chronic health issues and related research that were held in alternate more proximal locations to facilitate attendance. A GISD series has been developed
related to engaging children interested in a career in science and their families. We have completed 28 SCI Cafés, including the following topics related to environmental health: 1) Translational Research: SCI Cafe LogoIncreasing Communication between UTMB Scientists and the Community; 2) Pilot Teen SCI Cafés: Feeding the Scientific Pipeline; 3) Environmental Estrogens; 4) Disaster Research Response, 5) Asthma and the Environment, 6) Second-Hand Smoke and Bronchiolitis; 7) Estrogenic Effects of Chemical Additives in Food; 8) Pesticides; 9) Ebola and Chikungunya; and 10) Zika.
After two years, our program has evolved to better suit the needs of our communities. One not-for-profit, faith-based group has become so adept at the process that they are now carrying out SCI Café events independently, although we remain committed to supporting their needs by providing expertise or assistance as requested. At one of the venues, a local library, it was determined that the constituents in attendance preferred a lecture series. This demonstrated the need to adapt messaging to meet the wants of the various community groups. We currently actively engage our two most relevant audiences, i.e., the general public and teens interested in a career in science. The COEC will expand SCI Café topically to reflect the current and emerging research areas within the CET, e.g., asthma; BPA, other potential endocrine disrupters and environmental exposures of concern impacting health; as well as the interaction between environmental exposures, immunological responses, and health outcomes. SCI Cafés are hosted by COEC staff and scientists involved in the CET’s research projects, resulting in a direct translation of research to the community, while providing the opportunity for our scientists and trainees to increase their competency to convey the nature and importance of their work for the public. Most importantly, this enables the COEC to increase environmental health literacy in our community. We recently developed a new SCI Café survey and evaluation tool that captures audience demographic information, a self-evaluation on participants’ learning, understanding and interest, and what prompted their attendance. For updates on upcoming SCI Cafe like us on Facebook.