In our 5 questions series we talk to our Pint of Science Country Directors. Today we meet Dr Carine Signoret and Dr Stéphanie Da Silva Heil who run Pint of Science Sweden.
1. What’s your background, who are you?
Carine: I am a French scientist working on language and communication. I have studied psychology and got a PhD in cognitive psychology in 2011.
Stéphanie: I have a PhD in Biology which I obtained in Toulouse (France) between 2010 and 2013. I studied the effect of a probiotic bacterium in a stress model to mimic Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I now research and work on Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. I moved from France to Sweden 5 years ago. It sounds yesterday for me! "Who am I?" is difficult to answer. I’m a researcher, a friend, a wife and a mum of 2... and thousand other things... I like to create jewels, write, draw and paint!
2. How did you hear about Pint of Science and what made you decide that you needed to bring this to your country / run this nationally?
Carine: I heard about Pint of Science via my friend Stéphanie who had the idea to bring the concept in Sweden where we both work now. As I have always worked in interdisciplinary teams, I have often experienced the need to explain scientific results in an accessible manner for non-experts. I am also used to discussing my work with people outside academia, both in my private life and professional life where I conduct experiments involving human participants who know nothing about my scientific domain. I really think it is of utmost importance for the society to get access to scientific results, at least for counterbalancing the horrific amount of fake news we face every day.
Stéphanie: I heard about Pint of Science when I was in France as a PhD student but I was thinking I didn’t have any time for this. One of my previous colleagues started to get involved after she get graduated and it sounded so exciting when she was talking about it... so I started to think about my new country: Sweden. After looking around, it was clear that nobody had started Pint of Science there and I asked my friend how to do it, she gave me Elodie’s email [Pint of Science International Director]. I talked to one of my closest researcher friends, Carine, and she thought it was a good idea and so we decided that we want to take on this challenge together.
I was thinking that bringing science to people is the next and best step - this is why we are doing science. My main motivation is to discover, investigate and try to understand new mechanisms in diseases so it’s very frustrating when our research stays in the lab or in a small community, when you just want to shout out loud what you have just seen or discovered! Ever since I was a kid, teachers always told me that I speak too much so... I think that’s the natural continuation of my job!
3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in Pint of Science?
Carine: The name! Really in Sweden, not a single company or organisation want their name associated to something that is more or less related to alcohol. That is still a big challenge, but pint is also a unit of measurement.
Stéphanie: There are a lot of challenges but the main one is time management! Between my research and personal life, I need to find room and organisation to manage Pint of Science. However, at the same time, I decided to start Pint of Science whilst I was pregnant... so I think the coming years can only become easier!
4. Tell us about a Pint of Science event or experience that really moved you and why?
Carine: We have only had Pint of Science in Sweden for one year, so I cannot relate on a lot of events. But to see the interest in people's eyes and to see them think and ask relevant questions is making me really happy!
Stéphanie: The experience of the three days itself is magical. But I will say that when you have a participating audience the quiz is very funny, especially during the answers time. Last year, a group of 4-5 friends came together and it created a very nice atmosphere - one table made a joke to another table and it spread around the venue. During the quiz answers, it was discussions and jokes between tables, quite a nice competitive atmosphere that I really appreciated and enjoyed!
5. What’s your favourite science subject and which drink would you pair it with?
Carine: Communication of course! This topic is a real passion for me. Which factors facilitate or hinder communication and comprehension? How could the brain make use of these factors? These are the kind of questions that need to be answered for allowing a better communication between people.
Stéphanie: I love everything that is involves life and adaptation; it's fascinating how animals, plants and microbes can simply adapt to harsh conditions and find a way to survive! Right now, more than ever, I’m fascinated with oceans, seas, temperature change and global warming in general. Plastic trash and a lot of difficulties face our waters, survival and adaptation are really important in this type of environment. I would pair these with a cocktail called Blue Lagoon. Some vodka for the strength and Curacao for this absolutely amazing blue colour!
Bonus question: what do you do in your free time?
Carine: Renovate houses and cooking.
Stéphanie: Free time... Where??! Researcher, two kids, company owner and Pint of Science... well, I’m trying to read, relax, take a sauna when I can, create some jewels and go out boating and fishing. I love fishing and just being free outside (and the kids also love it). You can take a warm blanket with you and stay inside the small front cabin with a warm tea. Our first boat, a Zodiac, needed very powerful batteries, so my husband developed a special lithium battery! In my free time I also help with the 'Lithium Boat Solution' company doing administration and helping customers - that's another task I like!
Pint of Science Sweden can be found at pintofscience.se