Making Science Accessible: A Look at the Pint of Science

Two researchers studying neurodegenerative conditions walk into a bar.

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Two researchers studying neurodegenerative conditions walk into a bar.

The bartender says, “Why the long faces?”

The first researcher says, “we can’t find any field participants for our neurodegenerative study!”

The bartender says, “I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds like you lads are having a rough go. Why don’t you tell me about it.”

I like to think that’s how Pint of Science was originally started. A couple of researchers having a few drinks after work, chatting up the locals about their esoteric fields of study, and then realizing: ‘hey, this is not a bad way to bring science into the community’.

Now in its seventh year, the initiative to bring science to the people by bringing the people to the pint has grown to dozens of countries, including over twenty Canadian cities — and for the first time this year, Edmonton will be one of those cities. And yes, they have a University of Alberta connection.

Nestled within the Medical Science Building, is a lab like many of the others that stretch down the building’s halls. Active petri dishes, mysterious liquids in beakers, and large humming machinery lined the room.

The lone researcher in the lab directed me around the corner where I found Raelynn Brassard, Emily McNamara, and Cameron Smithers, the biochemistry graduate students organizing the Edmonton Pint of Science. They explained to me that one of their professors had suggested bringing the Pint of Science to Edmonton after hearing about its success elsewhere in Canada. Raelynn, Emily, and Cameron liked the idea and were thrilled at the chance to bring some of the U of A’s most forthcoming research endeavors into the community.

“It’s not obvious to find where [basic research] goes on,” Cameron said, stating what was now obvious to me. “Pint of Science makes it easy — it brings science off campus and into the community.”

But that’s only the method, they told me. The point of Pint of Science is to reduce the public’s misinformation about science, and encourage them to proactively engage with it and its members.

“I think there’s a lot of skepticism about the scientific and medical fields,” Raelynn said. “We’re trying to come out and be honest about the research that’s being done.”

And doing that means meeting people where they are and showing them that our experts are part of the community too — they just happen to be really, really knowledgeable about their respective fields.

“Pint of Science is for everyone,” Emily said, “but it it’s obviously aimed the general public.”

And that’s exactly who should know more about what the scientific community is up to — everyone. To know that scientists aren’t hiding in far away labs. They’re right here, they’re accessible, and they love talking about their research.

They’re the kind of people who’d be fun to grab a pint with.

Pint of Science will take place May 20–22, 2019 at Hudsons Canada’s Pub on Whyte Ave.

You can find more information about speakers and RSVP at and follow the event on Facebook. Tickets are free, but seating is and follow the event on Facebook. Tickets are free, but seating is limited.