Science on Tap sparks UW, Northwoods dialogue

Anna Pidgeon presents at Science on Tap
Anna Pidgeon, an assistant professor of forest and wildlife ecology, speaks to the crowd about birds and their environment at the Minocqua Brewing Company.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are highlighting the university’s impact more than 200 miles away from campus through a series of conversations involving community members on topics ranging from carnivore conservation to climate change.

Science on Tap-Minocqua, held the first Wednesday of every month at the Minocqua Brewing Company, is a collaborative effort between local UW-Madison research stations, the Lakeland Badger Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association and the Minocqua Public Library that aims to create an ongoing dialogue between Northwoods residents and the university.

“We hope for a two-way dialogue between researchers at the university or elsewhere that are leading the presentation and the community,” says Tim Kratz, director of Trout Lake Station, a Center for Limnology field station located near Minocqua, Wis.

Kratz suggested the format after discovering a similar event hosted in Ashland on a trip back from Duluth, Minn. The Minocqua event allows UW-Madison researchers to showcase their research and how it affects northern Wisconsin.

Speakers give presentations of 15 minutes or less, without a PowerPoint, which is followed by a question-and-answer session that often continues for more than an hour.

Tom Steele
Tom Steele, director of the Kemp Natural Resources Research Station, speaks at a Science on Tap session.

Tom Steele, director of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Kemp Natural Resources Research Station, describes the event as a “community conversation,” depending on the participation of audience members who often share their own stories and opinions.

Public lectures at the research station usually draw as few as five people and at the most 50. The first Science on Tap event, which focused on the history of the Northwoods, drew more than 200.

For more information, read the full UW-Madison news release about Science on Tap.