Notre Dame Graduate Students Launch the Science Café

Author: Mary Hendriksen


The Notre Dame Science Café is a lively means of bridging the age-old divide between “town“ and “gown.” Initiated in April 2009 by three Notre Dame graduate students—Mia Stephen, Chris Patrick, and Shawn O’Neil—all recipients of Notre Dame’s Arthur J. Schmitt Fellowships in Science and Engineering, the Science Café brings together Notre Dame scientists and engineers with interested community members to discuss current issues in science and technology.

Science Café topics this year have ranged from the impact of Asian carp on the Great Lakes (Prof. David Lodge) to how genomics can help fight malaria (Prof. Michael Ferdig) to the economics of climate change (Prof. Richard Jensen). A complete list of topics can be found at

With approximately 25 people in attendance at each monthly event, the Notre Dame Science Café organizers report that the venture has been a great success. Says Chris Patrick: “It is imperative that we scientists and engineers communicate our research topics and findings to the larger community. Personally, I love this unique kind of teaching. It’s a great opportunity to connect with people. And the South Bend residents who attend are very knowledgeable and engaged. It’s been a good match of interests and intellects.”

As is true of its counterparts in a loosely organized global Science Café network, Notre Dame’s Science Cafés are held in a casual, easily accessible setting—currently, at the Notre Dame Downtown site, 217 S. Michigan, located near the Chocolate Café and the Chicory Café. The Notre Dame Society of Schmitt Fellows has formally adopted the Science Café as a service project, with Ashley Baldridge, AJ Reisinger, Kerri Citterbart, Sheri Saunders, and Rob Davis as key organizers.

Topics slated for Spring term 2011 are:

  • The science of ecological restoration
  • The science of alleviating poverty in the developing world
  • Electric cars
  • Archeology and advanced imaging

For more information about Science Café events, please contact Chris Patrick at