Science on Tap: Pouring CSU research into the community

Note to Reporters: High-resolution photos are available at

Three Colorado State University graduate students and two CSU faculty members recently launched an initiative in Fort Collins called Science on Tap, a program that seeks to connect the community with science — at a local brewery.

The vision behind Science on Tap is to provide an informal, relaxed and fun atmosphere for the Fort Collins and CSU communities to discuss scientific research taking place at CSU as well as popular topics in the media.

The free event takes place once a month at Pateros Creek, a local brewery located on College Avenue just north of Old Town that extends its happy hour for anyone who attends. The next Science on Tap is titled “Measles, Rubella and Morbilli… Oh My!" and takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 30.

“We want to inform the general public from a real scientific perspective, but not in a threatening way,” said Mark Zabel, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. “We want it to be a community-based discussion.”

Science on Tap is a way for scientists to communicate what they do to people who may not be familiar with seemingly complicated research topics.

“I think scientists get into a rut of only communicating with other scientists, because that’s their job,” said Hannah Romo, one of the CSU graduate students involved with planning Science on Tap. ”But I think it’s also important to branch out and tell people why their science is important.”

The event consists of one speaker or a panel of experts giving an informal talk about their research or a hot topic of science. The presentation lasts between 30 and 40 minutes, and after that the audience is encouraged to ask questions and have a discussion with the speakers.

“We try to avoid PowerPoints to ensure it stays informal and conversational, and we can get to the questions as fast as possible,” said Zabel. ”We want to minimize presentation time and maximize discussion time.”

Danielle Adney, who had the original idea of bringing Science on Tap to Fort Collins after being inspired by a friend at West Virginia University who started a similar initiative, explained the importance of the discussion portion of the event.

“We want people to feel like it is a safe place to ask any questions they have and get answers from scientists instead of Wikipedia,” she said.

According to Adney, the event has been a success so far. It has been standing room only at the brewery each time.

“Our first Science on Tap was on Ebola, which nobody works on directly at CSU, but we do have a lot of expertise in immunology and epidemiology,” said Zabel. “So we had a panel discussion for this topic where several CSU scientists gave a five-minute introduction on what they specialized in and then shared their perspective on Ebola.”

Another topical issue discussed at Science on Tap was influenza, which was a fitting subject during the flu season. In January, CSU’s Brian Tracy, an associate professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, talked about his research on the biological electricity of muscles. He brought his “Muscles Alive!” demonstrations to show how the body responds to electrical stimuli. February’s event was focused on the topic of lousy sex.

In addition to “Measles, Rubella and Morbilli… Oh My!" upcoming topics include elephant conservation ecology, fracking, a brewing presentation from the Pateros Creek staff and a grown-up version of a physics demonstration from CSU’s Little Shop of Physics.

The series – which is promoted with the motto “Grab a beer, stay for the science” – won’t tap out at the end of the semester. It will flow through the summer.

For information on upcoming events, visit