Raise a Glass and Toast to Science

by Dr. Sarah Treanor Bois
Director of Research & Education at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation

The off-season on Nantucket is the perfect time to slow down and get to the tasks and activities you’ve put off all year. It’s a great time to cozy up by a fireplace or learn something new. One off-season activity that combines the two is Science Pub, hosted by the Linda Loring Nature Foundation.

The Linda Loring Nature Foundation’s (LLNF) Science Pub is back for its 6th season on the island. What is Science Pub, you may ask? Based on the Science Cafe model developed in Europe in the 1990’s, Science Pubs bring scientists and the public together for informal discussions around locally relevant topics. A Science Pub is less lecture and more about a good conversation. Enjoy a cocktail or dinner while engaging with your community and local experts.

This year, the LLNF Science Pub will once again be hosted at the Saltbox Tavern and Table located at 7 Macy’s Lane. The talks are once a month on Monday, generally the 2nd or 3rd Monday of the month. Monday nights are also wing night at the Saltbox along with their full dinner menu. Admission to Science Pub is free, but participants are encouraged to support free programs like this by purchasing food and beverage.

Science Pub | Nantucket, MA
scenes from last year’s science pub at saltbox

The Science Pub model has worked well in many University towns where there is a ready crop of in-house scientists as well as a revolving door of visiting professors and researchers. Nantucket is lucky enough to have a host of scientists, researchers, and conservationists on-hand. Science Pub is a chance for islanders to learn about what’s going on in their backyard while hearing about how local organizations are contributing to their scientific discipline. Each month a different island scientist will talk about their work in an easy-going, fun, and informative way with plenty of time for questions, comments, and interaction. And there are usually a lot of natural history photos to share as well.

Science Pubs have sprouted up across the country as an informal way for scientists to bring their research findings to a general audience. More importantly, it connects curious citizens and creative scientists over a sip of some sort. Science Pub is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome.

Having programs like this at a restaurant or bar helps take the formality out of the talks and can relax participants into engaging with ideas and questions. In previous years, the Nantucket Science Pub has hosted talks about saltmarsh restoration and turtles, spider diversity, long-fin squid fishery research, using drones for ecological surveys, among many other topics.

Science Pub | Nantucket, MA
scenes from last year’s science pub at saltbox

For the 2019/2020 season, LLNF Science Pub will feature six talks ranging from issues of coastal resilience and water quality to eel grass restoration and extragalactic signals. The full list of talks can be found on the Linda Loring Nature Foundation website at llnf.org/events.

Up first, Monday, November 18th, Dr. Sarah Bois (LLNF) and Dr. Jen Karberg (Nantucket Conservation Foundation) will give a presentation about their collaborative research on coastal resilience. This joint project is an island- wide assessment of the coastal vulnerability highlighting the potential impacts of sea level rise and storm surge under multiple climate change scenarios. This collaborative assessment between Linda Loring Nature Foundation and Nantucket Conservation Foundation seeks to highlight the island’s vulnerable and resilient natural landscapes in light of global climate change. Bois and Karberg take an island-wide approach investigating the natural habitats and open space on the island, assessing potential exposure, vulnerable assets, and adaptive capacity on island. They identify opportunities to protect unique resources; providing climate refugia and ecological connectivity.

In December, Resource Ecologist RJ Turcotte with the Nantucket Land Council, will talk about invasive European green crabs, a species whose populations have been increasing with warming waters and climate change. RJ will tell us about the latest research and how green crabs are indirectly wreaking havoc on our eel grass beds.

The event is from 6-8pm, with talks starting around 6:15. Talks usually last about 30 minutes so there’s plenty of time to chat, ask questions, and share ideas. Bring your questions and comments as this is meant to be a fun, informal atmosphere.

There is one LLNF Science Pub a month from November through April. That’s plenty of time to absorb some science, drink a hot cider (with or without the rum), and chill before the summer season. We’ll all be a smarter community for it! Hope to see you there!