List of Past SCI Cafes

SCI Cafe

Science and Communities Interact (SCI) Café was established by Dr. Croisant in 2013 to allow community members to meet with UTMB scientists to engage in casual dialogs with respect to translational science.

Have you ever wondered if estrogens in drinking water can lead to things like feminizing male fish? Or have you ever wondered just how a disease like Zika spreads? Topics like these are just some of the many subjects that have been discussed since the introduction of SCI Café. While the discussions are typically scientific, the discussions also consider broader topics like environmental exposures related to flooding and storm surge, aging, and ethical issues.

In an effort to meet the needs of a large number of community groups, there are currently four series of SCI Cafés: one given by experts that occurs at MOD Coffeehouse in Galveston to provide information to the general public; one given by the Galveston Island Community Research Advisory Committee, which assists with increasing knowledge of and participation in research; one Teen SCI Café series, which educates and inspires young scientists; and one for the broader Galveston County community, occasionally held at the Texas City Library.

The program has continuously evolved to better suit the needs of our communities. For instance, one not-for-profit, faith-based group has become so engaged in 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. 

The two most actively engaged audiences are the general public and teens interested in a career in science. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) is expanding the topics discussed at SCI Café to reflect the current and emerging research areas, specifically regarding asthma, bisphenol A and other potential endocrine disrupters and environmental exposures of concern impacting health, interactions between environmental exposures, immunological responses, and health outcomes.

SCI Cafés are supported by the Institute for Translational Sciences and are hosted by COEC staff and scientists involved in research projects at UTMB, resulting in a direct translation of research to the community while providing an 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 of participants’ learning, understanding, and interest; and what prompted their attendance. This data allows us to determine topics to consider in future SCI Café events.