Science and Lightbulb cafés return for fall semester

This fall, some of Penn’s top scholars will illuminate thought-provoking issues in the “hard” and “soft” sciences in a series of free public forums—the Penn Science Café and its sister lecture series, the Penn Lightbulb Café.

The lectures, held on Tuesday evenings at World Cafe Live Upstairs, 3025 Walnut St., are free and open to the public. Each hour-long talk begins at 6 p.m. and is followed by an audience Q&A session. Café goers can come early to enjoy 5 to 7 p.m. happy hour specials. Seating is limited. To register, contact Gina Bryan at 215-898-8721 or email

On Sept. 10, Robert Kurzban, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, will deliver the first Penn Science Café talk of the semester, “Willpower or Won’t-power: The Science of Self Control.” His talk will focus on his research into debunking the idea that people have a "reserve" of willpower that gets used up in the face of adversity.

On Sept. 24, Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor John L. Jackson will kick off the Penn Lightbulb Café with his lecture, “Practicing Impolite Conversations: Talking About Race, Religion, Politics and Everything Else.” A cultural anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, Jackson holds appointments in the Department of Anthropology in the School of Arts & Sciences (SAS) and at the Annenberg School for Communication.

Nicola Mason, an assistant professor of medicine and pathology in the School of Veterinary Medicine, will discuss “Hunting with the Hounds: How Dogs Lead the Way in the Search for Effective Cancer Therapies” at the Oct. 22 Science Café.

Paul Cobb, a professor of Islamic history in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, will address “Getting Crusaded: Medieval Islam and the Pointy End of Christian Holy War” at the Nov. 12 Lightbulb Café.

Closing out the semester, Alison Sweeney, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will discuss “Bio-optics: The Physics of Squid Camouflage” for the Dec. 3 Science Café.

The two lecture series are presented by SAS in partnership with University Communications.

Since 2005, the Science Café has shined a spotlight on Penn research in the sciences. The Lightbulb Café debuted in 2011 to illuminate SAS research in social science, arts, and humanities.

Lightbulb Cafe