Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Science Café - "Stress: Too much, or never enough?"

From Margaret: 
On Wednesday April 27, I had the opportunity to moderate a Science Cafe that was organized by Science North (in partnership with CIHR). The theme of the Science Cafe was one that we can all identify with: stress. We had a stimulating array of researchers on the panel, and a curious and thoughtful audience that was totally engaged the entire night. It was great to see such a casual discussion among the panelists and audience. 
We were able to have such an interesting and diverse discussion partly because the researchers on our panel offered unique perspectives on the topic of stress. They were also really great science communicators! One of our panelists was Dr. TC Tai, from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. He is a professor and researcher at Laurentian University, and he studies the cellular and physiological mechanisms of stress. Our other panelist was Behdin Nowrouzi, a PhD candidate studying occupational stress at the School of Rural and Northern Health at Laurentian University. 

These two researchers gave us insight into how they view and study stress, which opened the floor to an interesting discussion. We talked about the chronic effects of stress and the importance of being in control of your stress. It was nice to see that people were interested in understanding why and how they experience stress. We also discussed the difference between positive and negative stressors, and some of the issues and solutions that revolve around stress and managing stress in the workplace.

Margaret moderates the science café, and discusses stress with panelists Dr. Tai and Behdin Nowrouzi.
Leigha and Josh were in the audience, showing support and enjoying the discussion.
Moderating this event was a rich experience for me in many ways. It was an excellent way of applying the skills I had learned in our SciComm program, particularly our Live Programming class. It was also a rich experience because I got to watch and listen to real scientists communicate to a general audience. The two panelists were great presenters - they were engaging, personal, funny - and it really made a difference in the quality of the discussion at the event.

I'm a huge fan of Science Cafes. They are a hip way of connecting researchers with the public. The environment, which in our case that night was the SRO Nightclub Lounge, was casual. People were eating and drinking. The topic of the event - stress - was one that everyone can connect to. We all experience stress. People were not only asking questions, but expressing opinions.

It was great to be a part of, and I encourage current and future Scommies to try it at some point!

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