Hello! My name is Armando Carlone and I currently work and live as a research scientist in Cambridge, where I do R&D within a pharma company. Science is my work but also my passion; in fact I have always been engaged in associations and organisations, ranging from lobbying to science communication, in order to make the world a better place for everyone.
One of my voluntary roles was to be board member of Eurodoc (www.eurodoc.net); we dealt with different subjects, such as Career Development, Gender Equality, Interdisciplinarity, Mobility, Policy Research, Open Access, Governance, Finance, and Communication. I had the opportunity to represent us and make our voice heard with members of the European parliament and other members of the public sector; it was one of the experiences that showed me the biggest disconnection between science, from research to its issues, and the general public and the decision makers.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to organise Pint of Science in Cambridge (pintofscience.com); I was part of one of the teams and I had so much fun and reward to bring cutting-edge science to everyone.
Pint of Science is an annual public engagement event, that aims to bring science into the pubs, so that people can listen to researchers while having a beer and without feeling daunted by the environment. It is organised entirely by volunteers and held in multiple cities around the world. It has aims to raise public awareness of the scientific research being carried out at universities and to allow them to ask questions directly to the people carrying out that research; to give universities and other local research institutions an opportunity to disseminate their research to the public directly, thus avoiding the risk of having the research misinterpreted by third parties; and to give academic researchers experience in public engagement and event management.
After the 2014 edition, I was asked to be the 2015 coordinator for Pint of Science in Cambridge, along with Stanley Strawbridge. It had been such a fantastic and rewarding experience, that I was so happy to take the next challenge of trying to coordinate Cambridge and take it a step further.
The 2015 festival took place on the evenings of 18th-20th May in 50 different cities across nine countries. The Cambridge festival featured events based on six different themes. Each theme ran an event on every night of the festival, providing a total of 18 public engagement events over three days.
The 2015 festival proved incredibly popular and Cambridge exceeded all expectations: all 18 Cambridge events were sold out in less than two weeks after the tickets were released; two events were sold out in less than 24 hours – it was incredible to see people so keen to come and listen to science!
Behind the scenes of Pint of Science there is a lot more than could be imagined; putting a call out for volunteers, organising teams, looking for sponsors, promotion, looking for pubs to host the festival, publicity in the community, are the basic preparations. Then there is plenty more, such as choosing the subjects for each night, asking researchers to give a talk, coordinate merchandise and ticket sales, organise quizzes for the breaks, and so on. All of this had to be coordinated within all the 10 teams that we had in Cambridge this year. Some of my friends helped to organise the whole Pint of Science as I had been telling them how great and rewarding it is not only to attend the events, but also to organise.
The obvious downside of all this work is that it ate into a lot of my spare time but the reward that comes with it and the enthusiasm of the team are an incredible motivation.
Enthusiasm and motivation are always welcome at The Pint of Science and so if you are reading this and are keen to learn more about how you can get involved feel free to write me a line at [email protected]
As mentioned, this year we wanted to take Pint of Science one step further in Cambridge and we started to think about a special event that would engage people in a different environment and with a different approach, aiming to reach an audience that wouldn’t usually come to science talks or to the pubs. While talking during a flight with my very soon wife-to-be, Aurora Cacciapuoti, who is an illustrator, an idea sparkled and, after brainstorming it a bit more, it became ‘Creative Reactions’.
Cambridge Pint of Science Festival held, for the first time, a special event called ‘Creative Reactions’, which combined science with art. As alluded, the event was inspired by the idea that, despite the best efforts of the scientific community to make science accessible for the general public, it can still appear rather mysterious. We felt that combining science with art might help us to lower this access barrier and create a more meaningful relationship with the local community. Before the festival, 55 selected visual artists worked with speakers to develop ideas for pieces of art inspired by the work of the researcher. The results of these collaborations were several pieces of art, which were revealed during the corresponding Pint of Science events. All of the artwork were displayed as a complete collection on Thursday 20th May, at St. Barnabas church, providing audience members, speakers and organisers with access to the topics of talks they were unable to attend. It was mind-blowing to see that at Creative reactions, on the night of the 20th May, over 700 people came to visit the exhibition.
Creative Reactions was the natural grand finale of Pint of Science in Cambridge this year; speakers and attendees from the pubs, together with the people who couldn’t find a ticket for the sold-out festival in time, all came together to enjoy the art.
It was breathtaking to see Creative reactions and Pint of Science happening and all the people enjoying them so much, after nearly a year of very hard work. The whole Cambridge team was exceptionally good this year and their energy and passion are definitely commendable and an inspiration for the future. Everyone put a tremendous effort in making Pint of Science and Creative reactions happen.
I have so many great memories but, the first day of Pint of Science was definitely memorable – seeing everything coming together and all the events running smoothly after all that hard work that everyone put into it was amazing!
Another memorable day was the Pint of Science party that we had, where all the Cambridge team got together once again to celebrate and to enjoy some time together after the festival.
As a non-profit organisation, we mainly rely on sponsorship to finance the Festival. Thus, we do hope to attract interest for next year, so that such a great and useful event for the whole community can be sustainable.
Cambridge caters for scientists brilliantly but if I had to choose my favourite scientific events and places they would have to be; the Science Festival, Festival of Ideas, and when museums are open at night. The Whipple museum is probably my favourite one in Cambridge.
Ah, and Pint of Science of course!
With regards to any gap in the market I would probably like to see more networking events among scientists of different disciplines; any kind of science talking to each other! And I hope that we can make Creative reactions and all that comes with it grow more as well.
My hope for science is that I would love to see soon the day when scientists, politicians and all the people talk about science without misconceptions and understanding each other. It would be revolutionary and the progress would be much more rapid and poverty and inequality would be easier to fight.
If I had to sum up why I love science so much it would be that I like investigating and understanding the mechanisms that govern the world; I like the continued challenge to everyday life that comes with research.
Cambridge is a vibrant city, immersed in parks and beautiful and relaxing landscapes, that has its roots in science. It is small in size so that I can cycle everywhere but it is also close to London and has easy access to airports.
Canoeing on the Cam to Grantchester and have a picnic, if canoeing was free would be my favourite free thing to do in Cambridge; otherwise, I’ll cycle there! A fun fact about me would be that I am Italian but I am not a football fan!
As for my ultimate ambition it would be to make the world a better place. (you said “ultimate”, didn’t you?)