In our 5 questions series we talk to our Pint of Science Country Directors. Today we meet one of the very first original Pint of Sciencers since 2013, Dr Elodie Chabrol. After helping the original team in London, Elodie went on to start and direct Pint of Science France. She is also Pint of Science's International Director; recruiting and managing countries around pintsworld.
1. What’s your background, who are you?
I’m a neuroscientist, I’ve done my PhD in Paris and then went to London to work as a researcher at University College London. I worked on Epilepsy, trying to understand it better and to find innovative treatments; I left research in 2017 and I’m now a freelance science communicator working to change the perception of science and scientists for the better, one tweet at the time.
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?
I got involved in the creation of Pint of Science in 2013 in London. It all just started with an email from the team, looking for volunteers. I called the founders and started on the team. After working on establishing the very first ever Pint of Science in London that was very successful I got only one thing on my mind: start the festival in France!
The first year was amazing, we were a team of slightly crazy people with one goal: to break walls between the scientists and the public in a relaxed way. I had to bring that to France.
I was also convinced from the start that one of the best things we could do with the festival was to expand internationally. Exactly what I’m still doing now as international director!
3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in Pint of Science?
#pint20 will be my 8th Pint of Science, I could list so many challenges: working with volunteers, scaling up the festival, creating social media strategies that work. I mostly see them as experiences than challenges.
The real biggest challenge was to start the festival in France for the first year. After living the success in the UK it was really hard to come back to zero and set it up in France. People were sceptical, will this new British concept work? Everything was really hard and I had some sleepless nights before the festival, some filled with work and some filled with worries. But I threw myself in, 400%, and it worked great! Seeing now how successful and respected Pint of Science is in France I’m proud of that and I don’t regret a single minute spent on it!
4. Tell us about a Pint of Science event or experience that really moved you and why?
One confession: I cried at the first Pint of Science event in London just because it was happening and the room was full, people were enjoying it. I also cried at the first Pint of Science event in Paris, because, well, that happened, after so much work and stress. And guess what? I have a little tear every year when I see all the social media posts from everywhere in the world. This is the moment I realise what we created.
But if I have to tell you about one experience that moved me particularly: the first year of Pint of Science in London, one speaker; Clare Elwell, was raising money for her Charity in Africa and a young man just wrote a cheque for the entire amount she was planning to raise, leaving everyone speechless. A beautiful example to show that Pint of Science is not just about science but also about the humans, the whole point is to create an opportunity for meeting and dialogue.
5. What’s your favourite science subject and which drink would you pair it with?
I’m a neuroscientist so, of course, I like to hear about the Brain, but I also love Astrophysics: Universe, Meteorites, Galaxies. I hated physics but since Pint of Science, I love it! But to be honest I like all the subjects, that’s the beauty of science communication, understanding a little bit about a lot of subjects!
I would pair it with either a large glass of Coca Cola, or a lager.
Bonus question: what do you do in your free time?
I go for beers with friends and read stuff about science, but my favourite activity is travelling and going trekking in the mountains a few days per year with no network (I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2016 and Toubkal in 2018). You might also find me on Netflix with Plume, my cat!
Pint of Science France can be found at pintofscience.fr