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What is a Science Café?

According to ScienceCafé, "Science Cafés are events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic." It doesn't matter who you are! If you have an interest or an itch to learn more about the featured subject, we'd love to have you attend and hear what YOU bring to the conversation.

CEC Science Cafés focus on human environmental health exposures currently being researched by Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) scientists.

Past EH Science Cafés

Dr. Nick Newman speaking about the health effects of uranium exposure.Uranium - On September 14, 2021, the CEC ventured out to the Crosby Township Community Center to answer concerned community members' questions regarding the health effects of uranium. 19 people turned out for the event. Questions ranged from generational effects of uranium exposure to water quality safety for livestock.

Uranium metal products for the nation's defense programs were produced from 1951 to 1989 at the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, located in Crosby Township, just 18 miles west of Cincinnati. Uranium, radium and other radioactive materials contaminated the soil, debris, ground water and surface water. Human exposure depends on what years residents lived in the area, how far away residents lived and worked from Fernald, and what residents ate and drank. UC scientists continue to study the health of people affected by the exposure, and residents and plant workers are still very concerned about the effects on their health, even 31 years after the start of the Fernald Medical Monitoring Program.

In attendance to answer concerned citizen’s questions were CEG Director, Susan Pinney, Research Coordinator, Jeanette Buckholz,  CEC Leader, Nick Newman, and CEC Co-Leader, Michelle Burbage.

After shutdown and federally mandated cleanup of the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, community members made the decision to return the site to its original land use consisting of wetlands, ponds, prairies and upland forest areas – now known as the Fernald Preserve. The Preserve features 7-miles of hiking/walking trails and a Visitor’s Center.

dark waters movie posterDark Waters and PFOA– Immediately after theater showings of the movie Dark Waters (movie poster right), CEG researchers were available in the lobby to answer questions about the exposure and health effects of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid). Dark Waters follows Cincinnati attorney, Robert Bilott's, legal battle against DuPont over the release of PFOA into Parkersburg, West Virginia's water supply, affecting 70,000 townspeople and hundreds of livestock. Releases into the Ohio River moved west, eventually reaching Cincinnati's drinking water. CEG researchers have found PFOA levels in blood samples from greater Cincinnati residents.

Mold - CEG member, Tiina Reponen, conducted an EH Science Café for the residents of Cincinnati's Northside neighborhood, a small community plagued with sewer backups and basement flooding due to storm sewer runoffs. Residents were deeply concerned about mold exposures and harmful health effects.

eh science cafe on sun safety at coney island's sunlite pool

Sunlight and Sunscreens - Zalfa Abdel-Malek, CEG member and melanoma researcher (pictured above), discussed skin effects of excess sunlight exposure. Katie Santanello, MPH graduate student then demonstrated the correct way to apply sunscreen to the face. This EH Science Café was conducted poolside at Coney Island‘s football-field size Sunlite Pool. The aim was to increase understanding of UVA and UVB blocking agents and risks and benefits of sunscreen products.

uc lead in soil community meeting may 30thLead (Pb) Contamination in Urban Soil - Presented by Dr. Nick Newman, CEC Leader. A CEC citizen science project on soil testing kits discovered high lead levels in residential yards and local urban gardens. This EH Science Café was held at the public library in the city of Norwood, an enclave of Cincinnati. Interested community and local officials attended, asking over 20 questions about how the lead contamination may have occurred and possible remediation methods.

Interested in hosting your own EH Science Café? Please contact Amy Itescu at (513) 558-2147 or email We'll be happy to connect you to an environmental exposure expert at the CEG! Are you a CEG member interested in presenting a Science Café? We'd like to hear from you, too!

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Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences
Center for Environmental Genetics
Kettering Lab Building
Room 210
160 Panzeca Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056
Mail Location: 0056
Phone: 513-558-3646