Festival offers interesting mix of science

You can catch up with what’s brewing in the world of science at the Pint of Science global festival, being held in the northern suburbs and other Cape Town venues, this month.

You can meet scientists at Stellenbosch University’s Tygerberg campus in the student centre from Monday May 14 to Wednesday May 16 at 6.30pm.

“Our Body”, “Planet Earth” and “Atoms to Galaxies” are the festival’s three themes this year.

Dr Elloise du Toit, a medical microbiologist at UCT, will be talking on the Monday about breast milk, particularly its composition and possible associations with the development of pneumonia, asthma and wheezing.

Dr Du Toit has a special interest in the microbiome – the collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in and on us.

Also on Monday, Dr Karin Baatjes will talk about maintaining the bone health of breast-cancer survivors.

She is a clinician-scientist, head of Stellenbosch University’s anatomy division and a consultant surgeon in the surgical oncology service at Tygerberg Hospital.

Later, Dr Tandeka Magcwebeba, a post-doctoral fellow in the immunology group at Stellenbosch University, will talk about how researchers are trying to improve the way we diagnose and treat TB – one of the leading causes of death in the world.

On Tuesday, Professor Jill Farrant will look at food security in a hotter drier future. Global warming, she warns, is making the world’s bread baskets increasingly arid.

Her research looks at how “resurrection plants”, which tolerate extreme conditions, can help crops survive drought.

If dinosaurs get your pulse racing, then you won’t want to miss Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan’s talk, “Dinosaurs – How we know what we know”, which is also on the Tuesday.

The professor is a world-renowned palaeontologist based at the UCT’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Her research on the microscopic structure of bones has led to a better understanding of the biology of a variety of extinct animals, such as, dinosaurs, the flying reptiles, and the mammal-like reptiles.

In 1995 she received a National Research Foundation President’s Award, and in 2005 she won the South African Woman of the Year Award.

Dr Haley Cawthra is a senior scientist in the Council for Geoscience’s marine geoscience unit and a research associate at the Nelson Mandela University. She will be talking, on Tuesday, about South Africa’s ocean floor and what it tells us about past climates, environments and human activities.

On Wednesday, Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi, a senior UWC lecturer in physical chemistry, will talk about TB treatment drugs.

She is a research leader in the field of drug metabolism nanobiosensors for antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment drugs.

Also on Wednesday, Dr Jaisheila Rajput, the founder of consultancy firm Tomorrow Matters Now, will talk about enhancing conditions for innovation. Similar events will be held at UCT and the Cause Effect bar in Cape Town.

Pint of Science was founded in the UK and runs every May in more than 150 cities across 19 countries to deliver interesting and relevant talks on the latest science research in an accessible format to the public – mainly across bars and pubs.. Visit www.pintofscience.co.za for more information.