Bryant Lake Bowl

810 W. Lake St., Mpls Open 8 am‑2am daily

Restaurant/Bowling (612) 825‑3737 Theater (612) 825‑8949


Café Scientifique

Presented by The Bell Museum of Natural History

The Bell Museum's Café Scientifique is a happy hour exchange of ideas about science, environment, and popular culture featuring experts from a variety of fields on diverse and often provocative topics.

Upcoming Performances + Tickets

October 2016

Tuesday, October 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Tickets: $5-$12 sliding scale / Buy tickets

Previous performances

September 2013 topic: The Short and Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion

Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Craig Packer

October 2013 topic: Birding for These Modern Times

Tuesday, October 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Sharon Stiteler is the author of three books and the enormously popular Birdchick blog. She keeps bees with Neil Gaiman (and photographs birds in his backyard,) and travels 40 weeks of the year to spy on birds all over the world. 
During one of her rare stints at home in Minnesota, and hot on the heels of a multi-week European birding trek, Stiteler will visit Café Scientifique. Her presentation will be based on her latest book, 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, and geared toward experienced birders as well as novices and the bird-curious alike.

November 2013 topic: Insect Behavior, Evolutionary Biology and Sexual Selection

Tuesday, November 19 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
How is it that insects, with their robotic demeanor and stripped-down biological toolbox, are able to accomplish so many of the same functions as humans? Tonight, evolutionary biologist Dr. Marlene Zuk gives us an account of the social behavior (and yes, the sex lives) of ants, crickets, bees, and other insects, illuminating the fact that many of the things we think of as setting humans apart--personality, learning, language--aren't so extraordinary after all. Marlene Zuk is a biologist and writer who recently moved from California to the Twin Cities, where she is a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. She studies sex and evolution in animals from insects to birds, and is interested in how people draw parallels between human and animal behavior. Zuk’s research has taken her around the world, in particular to Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific. Her books include Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn About Sex from Animals; Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites that Make Us Who We Are; Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World; and Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. She also writes for many popular outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and Natural History magazine, and has been interviewed on radio shows ranging from The Splendid Table to Fresh Air.

December 2013 topic: Animal Games: Blue Jays and the "Prisoner's Dilemma"

Tuesday, December 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
What do we observe when a bunch of birdbrains are compelled to play decision-making games? Dr. Stephens' research blends mathematical and experimental analyses to address a range of issues in behavioral ecology, especially feeding behavior and cooperation. Using psychological techniques and experimental games such as the Prisoner's Dilemma, the Stephens Lab at the University of Minnesota analyzes blue jay behaviors to create evolutionary models of learning, memory, decision-making, and other cognitive phenomena most often associated with the human mind.

January 2014 topic: Galaxy Formation and the Reionization of the Universe

Tuesday, January 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Claudia Scarlata

February 2014 topic: The Cosmic Microwave Background: Astrophysics/Golden Age of Cosmology

Tuesday, February 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Clem Pryke

March 2014 topic: Conservation Ethic in Modern Agriculture

Tuesday, March 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Minnesota farmer and philosopher Tony Thompson, who notably appeared in Bell Museum's Emmy award winning documentaries Troubled Waters and Minnesota: A History of the Land, will be headlining March's Café Scientifique. In acknowledgement of agriculture scientist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and University of Minnesota alumnus Dr. Norman Borlaug's 100th birthday, Thompson will be sharing his insights into the Green Revolution "2.0", including his expert perspective on contentious industrial-scale GMO crops such as soybeans and corn, and the conservation ethic in modern technological agriculture.

April 2014 topic: Our Disappearing Bees

Tuesday, April 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Over the years, honey bees have faced a series of devastating problems, including a witches' brew of diseases, parasites and pesticides that together contribute to the mass honey bee die-off known as colony collapse disorder. Now, a relatively new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects is pushing the pollinator crisis to the edge, while researchers like Marla Spivak race to discover the causes and consequences of our disappearing bees. Presenter: Marla Spivak: Dr. Spivak is an entomologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, whose interest in bees began when she worked for a commercial beekeeper from New Mexico in 1975. She later completed her B.A. in Biology from Humboldt State University in northern California, and her PhD from the University of Kansas, under Dr. Orley "Chip" Taylor, in 1989. She spent two years in Costa Rica conducting her thesis research on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees. From 1989-1992 she was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona. She began as Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota in 1993. Influenced by Martha Gilliam and Steve Taber from the USDA Bee lab in Tucson, she became interested in hygienic behavior of honey bees. This interest has expanded into studies of "social immunity", including the benefits of propolis to the immune system of honey bees, and to the health and diversity of all bee pollinators. Dr. Spivak received the prestigious "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2010.

September 2014 topic: Carp & Culture

Tuesday, September 16 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
The relationships between humans and carp are complex and surprisingly varied in different cultures around the world. In North America, carp are despised as ravenous invasive pests that destroy habitat for fishes, ducks and other organisms. Yet in China, Japan, Britain, and Eastern Europe, the carp is cultured for food, raised as expensive pets, revered as a symbol of perseverance and strength, sought-after as game fish, and served as a prized delicacy on the most special of occasions. Tonight, Professor Andrew Simons will discuss the biology, aquaculture, and control of carp in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, while exploring the cultural importance and symbolism of carp in art and folklore across the globe. Presenter: Andrew Simons is an Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology.  He is also Curator of Fishes in the Bell Museum of Natural History.  He is interested in the evolution of carps, minnows, and blennies, as well as the effects of Pleistocene glaciations on distribution and population structure of North American freshwater fishes. 

October 2014 topic: Einstein: The Old Sage Versus Young Turk

Tuesday, October 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Drawing on his work for the Einstein Papers Project and his collaborations with scholars at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin, Dr. Michel Janssen will explain, in layperson's terms, the scientific methodology behind the spectacular successes of the young Einstein (special and general relativity and early contributions to quantum theory). He will then show how some of Einstein's personal experiences during World War I played a key role in making the older Einstein adopt a very different methodology, one no longer driven by empirical data but by mathematical elegance. This Café Scientifique promises to be an entertaining mix of history, philosophy, and physics. Dr. Michel Janssen has long been interested in making the results of his research on the history and philosophy of modern physics accessible to a broader audience. A Professor in the Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, Janssen has been offering a popular seminar called Einstein for Everyone. He is also one of the editors of The Cambridge Companion to Einstein which likewise aims at a broad audience.

November 2014 topic: The Lives and Times of Ice Age Mammoths and Mastodons

Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Mammoths and mastodons are among the most well known species of the North American and Eurasian megafauna, and comparisons by Georges Cuvier in the early 19th century of their bones to those of the African and Asian elephants established the concept of species extinction. This talk will describe how contemporary paleontologists study the anatomy, ecology, and behavior of these emblematic fossil elephants using microscopes, isotopes, and CT scanners. David Fox’s research focuses on the roles of climate and habitat change on the evolution of ecosystems over geological timescales. His projects use the stable isotope geochemistry of sedimentary rocks, fossils, and modern animals and the morphology of teeth to reconstruct aspects of the diet of extinct mammals, including mammoths and mastodons, as well as aspects of their environment. He received his PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Michigan in 1999 and joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2001.

December 2014 topic: Fabricating Nature: Bringing Prehistory to Life

Tuesday, December 16 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Tim Quady, owner of Blue Rhino Studio in Eagan, will present the process of designing and fabricating museum exhibits, including huge, long-extinct creatures such as mammoths and short faced bears. Taken together, the November and December Cafes are a two-part mini-series on visioning/recreating the Pleistocene through science and art. Blue Rhino Studio specializes in interpretive design and artistic fabrication for museum, visitor center, and zoological environments. Working in a wide range of styles to create diverse exhibits that include sculpture, mural, carpentry and metal work, Blue Rhino has become a leader for artistic quality and value the industry.

January 2015 Topic: The PHAT Map: Hubble’s Legacy

Tuesday, January 20 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Andromeda’s stars, along with their ancestors and descendants (e.g., molecular clouds, HII regions, supernova remnants, etc.) can help us see and understand what galaxies are made of, providing opportunities for vast advances in the foundation on which all knowledge of the Universe is based. In 2007, the Space Telescope Science Institute asked scientists to propose “awesome, but crazy” projects that the Hubble Space Telescope could undertake as it aged – multi-year enterprises too massively complex to consider in Hubble’s earlier years – that would be just the sort of legacy the telescope ought to leave behind. University of Minnesota astrophysicist Dr. Evan Skillman will explain how the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) fits that bill. Evan Skillman has been a Professor of Astronomy at the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics and the University of Minnesota since 1989. His research interests lie in extragalactic observational astronomy, with specialties in the chemical evolution of galaxies, structure and evolution of dwarf galaxies, HII Region abundances, star formation, cluster galaxies, and Big Bang nucleosynthesis. Dr. Skillman’s research is featured in the Bell Museum’s current exhibit.

February 2015 Topic: The Power of Poisons, feat. the Honey Badger, presented by Sharon Jansa and Danielle Drabeck

Tuesday, February 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Bell Museum curator of mammals Sharon Jansa and her intrepid grad student Danielle Drabeck have spent the last couple of years examining the evolution of resistance to snake venom in mammals, and are about to publish a new paper on the evolution of resistance to snake venom in honey badgers. They will introduce us to anthropological/cultural interpretations of toxins through a scientific lens, and explain how the honey badger's adaptations help researchers use biochemistry and evolutionary biology to better understand interspecific interactions and evolution itself.

March 2015 topic: Hemp's Return to Humanity, presented by Doug Fine and George Weiblen

Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Journalist Doug Fine and professor George Weiblen discuss whether hemp is the game-changing plant that’s going to feed the world and free us from fossil fuels while putting small farmers back to work. Hemp has strong fibers, nutritious seed oil and untapped potential as an alternative energy source. Fine published “Hemp Bound” in 2014, a book that has been called “a blueprint for the future of America,” and Weiblen is an expert in popular genetics, including Cannabis genetics.

April 2015 topic: Earth 2.0: Habitable Exoplanets?

Tuesday, April 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
“Earth 2.0: Habitable Exoplanets?” with Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics professor Chick (Charles) Woodward. Dr. Woodward prefers to think of the title for this upcoming Café as “Earth 2.0+.” Why? According to Dr. Woodward, that will be the start of his narrative arc: “There are lots of ‘mirror Earths,’ but like the midway at the State Fair, the view depends on the mirror you are using.” Intrigued? Join us to discover the meaning behind Dr. Woodward’s cipher, and the significance it holds for the future of life in the Universe.

May 2015 topic: Feathered Ghosts: The Fish-Eating Owls of Northeast Asia

Tuesday, May 19 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
“Feathered Ghosts: The Fish-Eating Owls of Northeast Asia,” with Dr. Jonathan Slaght, who works for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program. Dr. Slaght describes his research into the secret lives of endangered Blakiston’s fish owls – massive, shy creatures that prey mostly on salmon – and explains how the divergent economies of Russia and Japan (where these birds are found) have influenced their conservation.

September 2015 topic: Bodies and Spirits: Health and the History of Fermentation and Distillation

Tuesday, September 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
For centuries, science and industry, along with alewives and brewers, have developed techniques using and modifying life forms like yeast, molds, and bacteria, to create a host of new therapies and produce better foods and beverages. From 16th-century handwritten recipes for beer and wine to Louis Pasteur’s groundbreaking microbial investigations of fermentation, this exhibit explores the historical health and medical relevance of beer, wine, spirits and more. Join exhibit developers from the U of M’s Wangensteen Historical Library in an exploration connecting the growing community of scholars, commercial brewers and distillers, agriculture scientists, and amateur enthusiasts to this exciting history.

October 2015 topic: Evolution Unleashed: The Making of the Dog, with Dr. Adam Boyko - SOLD OUT

Tuesday, October 20 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Before they domesticated cats, cows, chickens, corn, wheat, rice or anything else, humans domesticated dogs. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that dogs domesticated themselves by deciding to hang around humans to gain food and protection. Even in ancient times, some dogs were selected to be herders, hunters, and fighters, and the descendants of some of the breeds are still with us today. But, the majority of the world’s dogs today do not fulfill these specialized roles and instead live as semi-feral scavengers known as “village dogs.” The Adam Boyko Laboratory at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is focused on genomic investigation of dogs as a model of genetic disease and evolutionary genetics, to better understand how the forces of natural and artificial selection have shaped the domestic dog genome and the genetic architecture underlying the tremendous diversity we see in dogs today.

November 2015 topic: Myths and Meanings of the Big River, with Patrick Nunnally

Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Patrick Nunnally of the University of Minnesota’s River Life program will talk about his work integrating Mississippi River sustainability with historical frameworks, contemporary mythologies, and culturally sensitive resource planning.

December 2015 topic: Invasive vertebrates vs. island endemics: Who will be voted off the island? with Juli Ponder, D.V.M.

Tuesday, December 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Dr. Ponder is the executive director of the University of Minnesota’s renowned Raptor Center, and is an expert in the wildlife component of ecosystem health (specifically raptors). She has participated in the wildlife restoration projects involving Galapagos hawks in the Galapagos Islands, which will be the topic of her Café Scientifique presentation.

January 2016 topic: Mountains and Minds: Verticality and the Rise of Modern Science, with Dr. Michael Reidy

Tuesday, January 19 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Dr. Reidy examines the history of British science and the mountaineering in the age of empire with a discussion of seven different sciences on seven different mountain ranges around the world, focusing on his citizen science project in the Swiss Alps.

February 2016 topic: Tiny Worlds Revealed

Tuesday, February 16 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Tiny Worlds Revealed: Microscopy using light and other energy to make hidden biologies visible. Presented by Dr. Gail Celio from University Imaging Centers at University of Minnesota.

March 2016 topic: The Physics of Confections: Cotton Candy, Soft Cookies, and Brittle Crackers

Tuesday, March 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Speaker: Dr. Ted Labuza Labuza is known internationally as one of the top experts on kinetics of reactions related to loss in food quality, nutrient degradation and pathogen growth and death kinetics. He is also well known for his teaching and is the author or co-author of over 289 scientific refereed research articles, 18 textbooks, 78 book chapters, eight patents and more than 100 other semi-technical articles. Research behind The Physics of Confections was conducted by his three children when they were 7th and 8th graders at St John the Baptist Catholic School in New Brighton and published in a food science textbook in a chapter authored by Labuza, Labuza, Labuza and Labuza.

April 2016 topic: Bats, Whitenose Fungus, Chikungunya and Parasite Vectors of Disease

Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Speaker: Dr. Luis Escobar Dr. Escobar's research interests include macroecology and ecological niche modeling. Using climate and remote sensing data, he aims to investigate areas of potential invasion of micro (disease) and macro species. His goal is to validate tools and theory from invasion biology into disease ecology to enhanced the field of spatial epidemiology. He also assesses methods and variables for assertive predictions of biological invasions in Minnesota freshwater ecosystems at coarse and fine geographic scales.

May 2016 topic: Toxicology in the 21st Century

Tuesday, May 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Toxicology in the 21st Century with Dr. Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt, Associate Professor, St. Thomas University (Ph.D. Fisheries Science, University of Minnesota).

September 2016 topic: The Dazzling Dr. Spillhaus

Tuesday, September 20 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Are you aware of Dr. Athelstan Spilhaus? He was dean of the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota, the founder of the National Sea Grant program, inventor of the skyway system and the bathythermograph (drawings of which grace the Scholars Walk at the U), and author of the Our New Age comic strip that ran weekly for 20 years in the Minneapolis Tribune and was syndicated around the world to delight and inspire 5 million readers with a focus on science. Presenter Sharon Moen, communications coordinator for Minnesota Sea Grant and author of "With Tomorrow in Mind: How Athelstan Spilhaus Turned America Toward the Future," will regale us with stories of Spilhaus' many contributions to science, policy and even public art.

Past performances

Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00 pm



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available throughout the performance