SFU Café Scientifique is SFU's public seminar series from the Faculty of Science, sharing the most current scientific research and questions about its meaning to society. Come and hear the stories of science, right from the researchers themselves.

SFU Café Scientifique events are online Zoom webinars, which you can register for below. Want to catch up later? Watch the archived video at your convenience.

How has your experience been with SFU Café Scientifique? Let us know your thoughts on our survey here!

Spring 2024 Events

April 30, 2024 - 5:00 - 6:30 pm
Overtraining and the Everyday Athlete
What happens when we train too hard, don't take enough time to recover, or underfuel while exercising? Dr. Alexandra Coates discusses how these effects apply to both elite athletes and just your "everyday athlete."

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February 2024: From Data to Dollars: A Journey Through Financial Modelling

Financial modelling involves using mathematical and statistical techniques to understand future financial scenarios, helping individuals and businesses make informed decisions about their investments. Join Dr. Jean-François Bégin as he explores how these models can empower us to navigate the complexities of financial markets.

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January 2024: Why Do Babies Get Sick? A Systems Biology Approach to Developing Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Neonatal Sepsis

Each second, five newborn babies die from suspected life-threatening infections somewhere in the world. Newborns and young babies are more vulnerable to severe infections than all other age groups. However, there is no fast and easy way to tell which microbes are involved, resulting in babies being both over- and under-treated with antibiotics. In this talk, Dr. Amy Lee describes how we can use genomics and machine learning approaches to tackle this challenge.

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November 2023: Decoding how life senses and responds to carbon dioxide gas

Assistant Professor Dustin King’s Indigenous background is central to his work and relationship with the biochemical research he conducts. He brings Indigenous ways of knowing and a two-eye seeing approach to critical questions about humanity’s impact upon the natural world.

Join Dr. King on a microscopic journey into intricate cellular systems, which make use of CO2 in incredible ways. The presence of CO2 on Earth has given rise to a diverse evolutionary tree, with plants and animals developing ingenious methods for harnessing and using CO2 in their unique habitats. We travel from the depths of the ocean floor to the air we breathe, to understand the implications of increasing CO2 levels in nature and in daily human life.

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October 2023: Who, What, Where, When, and Why: the power of genomics in public health

Within days of first being identified the full genome sequence of SARS Cov-2 was published online. Assistant Professor Ailene MacPherson discusses the extraordinary power and limitations of genomics for understanding disease spread and for designing effective public health interventions.

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September 2023: (Un)Natural Beauty: Art, Science and Technology

Art and science are often considered opposites. But are they? Chemistry professor and photographer Vance Williams examines how art and science both support and reinforce explorations of the natural and constructed world, and the often blurry distinction between the scientist and the artist.

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April 2023: The pathways from our DNA to our brain

From early development all the way to aging, DNA affects the structure and function of our brain. Mapping these pathways helps scientists understand how our brain works, and how to fight neurodegenerative diseases. This talk will explain how scientists discover these genetic pathways and will explore the impact of genetics in a variety of areas including infectious disease, cancer, COVID-19, and the aging brain. Focus will be placed on understanding and modelling the genetic process, past successes in genetics, and what the future holds.

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February 2023: Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear

Watermelon-red snow is a tell-tale sign of springtime blooms of microscopic algae on alpine and arctic snow. Under the microscope, the algae are stunningly beautiful, but why study them? Dr. Lynne Quarmby takes us on a journey from molecular biology to the high Arctic and home again, illuminating the science of cells, of the climate, and of snow algae, while offering a reminder that much about the human experience is beyond reason. In this talk, we will hear about one scientist’s search for what it means to live a good life at a time of increasing desperation about the future.

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November 2022: New research in the exciting interdisciplinary research field of astrostatistics

Modern astronomy contends with complex physics, complex technology, and complex data; the result is an abundance of complex statistical challenges. This talk will focus on how new research in the exciting interdisciplinary research field of astrostatistics is advancing both astronomy and statistics, with applications in such diverse areas as: - discovering Earth-like exoplanets and characterizing alien solar systems - predicting solar activity and space weather - detecting and studying gravitational waves - learning about cosmology and the fate of our universe - how astrostatistics is simultaneously both an old and (relatively) new field of scientific inquiry.

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October 2022: Why do some infectious diseases cause large outbreaks, while others never really take off?

Why do some infectious diseases cause large outbreaks, while others never really take off? What do infectious diseases have in common with memes? And where do all these COVID-19 variants keep coming from? Join mathematical biologist Dr Ben Ashby as he dives into the world of epidemiology and evolution to learn how mathematical models can help us understand infectious diseases.

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March 2022: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe and back to the Coast of British Columbia

What is a neutrino? What can we learn from neutrinos about the Universe? Dr. Matthias Danninger from the Department of Physics will discuss answers to these questions and how British Columbia could play a dominant role for neutrino astronomy in the near future.

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February 2022: Aging Actively: Why Choose to Move?

Choosing to move can be as simple as moving more, and moving more often - it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. In this interactive cafe, Dr. Dawn Mackey from SFU's Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology Department will explain the benefits of regular physical activity for older adults, as well as some risks of not being active enough. We will also explore what older adults want to get out of physical activity, and ways to make physical activity a sustainable habit.

January 2022: The Immune System: Our Great Protector Against Dangerous Stuff

Our bodies are constantly in contact with material in the environment, such as microbes, that are harmful to our health. Despite this, most people are healthy because the immune system patrols our bodies and protects us from these harmful environmental components. In this Cafe Scientifique, Dr. Jonathan Choy from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry will discuss how the immune system does this.

Comments on Café Scientifique - September 2023

"Dr. Williams was engaging and excited about this new perspective on science and art. This was totally accessible to non-scientists and really fascinating and inspiring."

"I liked that it was online so I could attend, and I liked that it was later in the day when most people are done classes/work."

Comments on Café Scientifique - October 2023

"Dr. MacPherson made the info so accessible and fun. I was quite blown away. (I started to think I could even pass a Calculus class if she was teaching it.)"

"Interesting topic, and lots of useful references. Will read some books she recommended."

Comments on Café Scientifique - November 2023

"I liked the explanation of the different organisms that lived on early earth, how the earth was transformed by organisms to become a livable planet for oxygen breathing organisms, & his explanation of indigenous culture."

"Dr King's exceptional communication skills, demonstrated in how he provided context for each of the aspects of his presentation and his manner in including  a broad range of implications and opportunities for future research benefits."