Biodesign Institute Introduces “A Sip of Science”

World-renowned researchers and science aficionados converge at valley restaurants

On February 8, Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute launches a new outreach program that invites the general public to mingle with notable scientists and learn about some of the world’s most fascinating and current scientific issues. The “A Sip of Science” talks will take place at six venues from February 8 through May 8, where guests will have the opportunity to meet with biologists, neuroscientists, chemists, physicists, engineers and computer scientists at local restaurants.  

From why plastics in the ocean could make seafood extinct by 2050, to whether it’s possible to ignite the brain to higher functioning or better memory abilities, ASU’s Biodesign Institute researchers are breaking out of their labs and coming to nearby restaurants to share their expertise on a number of hot button topics, including their challenges, new discoveries and aspirations to make the world a better place. In this casual setting, attendees will be able to share their ideas and ask questions.

“Keeping up with the world’s information explosion is like trying to drink from a fire hose,” said Biodesign Executive Director Joshua LaBaer. “As a public university, we relish the opportunity to learn from our fellow Arizonans about their interests and ideas, and to share what we know about all the knowledge produced by today’s research. We want to engage in a discussion with the people of Arizona about advances in the world. ”

Each event in the series will feature accessible, lively and wide-ranging conversations. The event schedule includes:

Breaking the Ice: Exploring the Frozen Continent with the Penguin Whisperer
Thursday, February 8: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
George and Dragon English Pub
4240 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

Led by molecular virologist Arvind Varsani, aka “The Penguin Whisperer,” who works across ecosystems from plants and animals from the tropics to the Antarctic, this lecture covers the role viruses play in ecosystems and how they affect the world’s population.

Mo’ Plastics, Mo’ Problems: The Life of a Microplastic and Your Seafood
Sunday, February 11: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tavern Americana
20469 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale

Biologist Charlie Rolsky shares his passion for keeping the world’s oceans clean and seafood edible and helps guests understand the real threat of seafood becoming extinct in years to come.

The Brain Explained: Can I Change My Brain? 
Sunday, March 4: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tomaso’s Italian restaurant
3225 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

Neuroscientists Paul Coleman and Diego Mastroeni have handled thousands of human brains in their quest to alleviate suffering caused by Alzheimer’s, dementia and other brain-related illnesses as well as unlock other mysteries of the brain such as nature versus nurture, how to help children develop their brainpower and more.

Why is Cybersecurity So Hard and What Can We Do About It?
Tuesday, March 6: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The Market by Jennifer’s
3606 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix

Stephanie Forrest is a computer scientist who looks at cybersecurity from a different angle. How can the principles of biology help us attack viruses and build immunity into our systems? Today, we see many cybersecurity problems on-line, ranging from data breaches to hacked email accounts to cyberespionage.  But, we also see viruses, parasites, and bacteria in biology; bullies in social groups; and rogue nations in the international community. Stephanie’s talk will discuss current cybersecurity challenges, show why some common security advice is irrational, and describe how ideas from biology can provide help us design stronger cyber defenses.

Called the ‘Emperor of all Maladies’: Why are We Optimistic About Cancer?
Sunday, May 6: 2300 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Brickyard Downtown Chandler
85 W. Boston St., Chandler

Researcher and cancer physician Joshua LaBaer has invented a blood test for detecting cancer that is available in the U.S. He continues his quest to develop new, earlier and more precise detection of this challenging disease. His talk will cover what is cancer and why it is unique among all human diseases, what are the amazing advances made over the last decade – and share what’s on the horizon.

Zombies are Real: Are Microbes Controlling My Mind?
Tuesday, May 8 – 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
MATCH Restaurant & Cocktails
1100 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

Psychologist, biologist and author Athena Aktipis delves into the mysterious topic of microbes and the possibility that microbial manipulation can affect humankind — from determining the foods we eat and crave to ways they could drive behavior.

Cost is $15 per “Sip of Science” event, and includes light appetizers. Happy Hour pricing on beer and wine will be offered at each venue during the event. Proceeds will be used to fund community science events.

For registration and more information, visit          


Posted in AZBio News.