Science, Lightbulb cafés move to World Cafe Live

Typical happy hour events have a smart alternative, the Science and Lightbulb cafés, where scholars and professors from the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) step out of the classroom for live, public discussions in nearby bars and restaurants.

Penn’s hour-long café lecture series are being held Upstairs at World Cafe Live at 3025 Walnut St. Each talk begins at 6 p.m. and is followed by an audience Q&A session. Café goers can come early to enjoy 5-7 p.m. happy hour specials on cold drinks and hot munchies.

On Tuesday, March 12, Jane Willenbring, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, will give the first Penn Science Café talk of the Spring semester, “Back to the Future: Antarctica in a Warming World.” Seating is limited. To register, contact Gina Bryan at 215-898-8721 or email

Last spring, Willenbring briefly discussed the topic during an SAS 60-Second Lecture. For her Science Café talk, she will expound upon global warming in our lifetimes, explaining marked differences in the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, how we predict what the ice sheets will do, and what this means for future sea-level rise estimates.


Lightbulb Café talks are designed to illuminate the arts, humanities, and social sciences research of SAS faculty. Over the years, the talks have been held in restaurants and taverns across University City. Organizers say the new World Cafe Live venue is one of the best yet.

“I thought it was ideal because it’s a fun space where a lot of Penn people already go, and it’s convenient to Center City,” says Loraine Terrell, executive director of communications in SAS’s Office of Advancement.

Salamishah Tillet, an assistant professor of English and Africana studies, kicked off the Spring semester’s Lightbulb Café series with a well-attended Feb. 26 talk focused on Hollywood depictions of slavery.

On Tuesday, March 26, the Lightbulb Café will present a talk by Jessica Ho, a doctoral candidate in demography and sociology. She will discuss her research on the role that deaths at younger ages (below age 50) play in explaining the low life expectancy rate in the United States.

The April 2 Science Café will feature a lecture by Sharon Thompson-Schill, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, on “Thinking Differently: The Upside and Downside of Cognitive Control.” The semester’s final Lightbulb Café is slated for April 16, and the closing Science Café is scheduled for April 23. 

Science Cafe