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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Science Pub on April 5 to Wrap up Successful Yearlong Experiment

By Tom Robinson

Michelle Covi, assistant professor of practice at Old Dominion University, is already mulling next year's menu of Science Pubs - informal gatherings of ODU researchers and the public -- as Michael Allen prepares to present the fourth and final Pub of the school year.

An assistant professor of political science and geography, Allen will lead the conversation "Heat Waves to Hurricanes" with patrons at Roger Brown's, 316 High St. in Portsmouth, on April 5.

Science Pubs aren't traditional academic lectures, but casual presentations meant to inform laymen about the latest scientific issues and research.

"This has been an experiment, but it's been a really successful experiment," said Covi, of ODU's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who launched Science Pubs last fall. "We've had some really outstanding speakers and conversations, and I think we're getting a following. So we're going to keep pressing on with them."

Previous Science Pubs on sea level rise and Arctic exploration have been held in Norfolk, Hampton and Virginia Beach to better connect ODU with the communities of Hampton Roads, Covi said.

"We're a regional institution, and it's my job to reach out to the entire region," she said.

Allen will do that by presenting a synopsis of his research focus - the human health outcomes of extreme weather and climate changes - before leading a Q & A about his work.

A trivia contest will begin at 5:30 p.m., and Allen's presentation will start at 6. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP here or to 683-3116.

Climate change has been called a "medical emergency" that is often neglected in policy debates. Allen studies how the effects of climate change and extreme weather events are interconnected throughout the world and what they could mean in the future.

Covi has thought about making next year's series of Science Pubs even more inviting by adding a fifth "lightning talk" featuring ODU graduate students.

Lightning talks have become a popular means of presentation at technology and other sorts of conferences. They are brief talks that often feature slide shows and concise explanations.

"We could have, say, five graduate students who'd do a really fast presentation, and then everybody would mix together," Covi said. "Graduate students in this generation are very interested in communicating with the public. It would be a little less of a conversation and more of a performance."

Either way, it would be science delivered straight to the people.

More information can be found on the ODU Science Pubs webpage and on Facebook.