All events start at 6 pm and take place at:

National Mechanics

22 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

Monday February 10, 2020

6:00-7:00 pm

Historical Influenza and Viral Evolution

-Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, Penn Medicine

Influenza infection of humans has occurred throughout history. The virus is constantly changing and evolving, which is why we need a new vaccine every year. But what about pandemic strains? They happen when genetic re-assortment generates a new virus. Such an event occurred in 1918, when an estimated 50 million people worldwide were killed by an unusual flu, one that frighteningly devastated otherwise healthy 20- 30 year-olds. Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, PhD is out to find out why- hypothesizing that that generation’s immune systems were primed with a distinct influenza subtype during their 1890’s childhood, one that left them ill-equipped to fight this new strain decades later.  But- it is unknown what strains were circulating in the 1890s. 

In collaboration with the Pathology Department at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Anderson is collecting 19thcentury lung specimens to characterize these mystery strains and to determine the impacts of immune imprinting on disease fatality rates. This talk will detail how past exposures to influenza viruses shape the host response, and how this might have impacted the 1918 influenza pandemic.

IMG_1374About the speaker: Elizabeth Anderson is a Post Doctorate researcher studying influenza at the Scott E. Hensley Viral Immunology Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Elizabeth will be discussing her viral detective work looking at why the 1918 flu pandemic devastated the age 20-30 population, who is traditionally exempt for the threat of fatal flu cases. Her research takes us back to the 1890s, and on the hunt for reference samples from this time.

Monday March 9, 2020

6:00-7:00 pm

Thumbprints of the Midas Touch: What Shipwrecked Gold reveals about Spanish Colonialism

-Charlotte Williams, University of Pennsylvania 

GoldUnder Spanish Colonial rule, gold and silver in the Americas was not only mined, but also melted from original pieces produced by artisans of indigenous groups, erasing objects from cultural identities. This talk focuses on efforts to recover features of those objects that became bars and ingots, from metallurgical analysis to archive research.

About the Speaker: Charlotte Williams is a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Pennsylvania Williams_ScienceonTapand holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar. Her research interests surround archaeology and cultural heritage of the colonial Andes, with a focus on how people use archaeology in politics and identity today.


Monday April 13, 2020

6:00-7:00 pm

Killer Plants: a Longwood Gardens Takeover of Science On Tap

Chris Thorogood, University of Oxford

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Join us for a very special Science on Tap takeover this month! With all of the Science Festival activities and an untapped, we wanted to welcome a special guest host for April’s talk. Be sure to join us and give our special guests from Longwood Gardens a warm Science on Tap welcome!

Parasitic and carnivorous (“killer”) plants have piqued the curiosity of botanists, explorers, and horticulturists for centuries, with scientists beginning to unravel the evolutionary relationships of these “green predators” in recent years. From cryptic parasitic broomrapes (Orobanche) found in the far reaches of Portugal, to the myriad forms of pitcher plant (Nepenthes) in tropical Borneo, this talk is one that plant nerds and science enthusiasts cannot miss. Chris Thorogood even shares insight into the mysterious and mystical mandrake root of Harry Potter fame. Join us for this happy hour presentation in the heart of Philadelphia.

ChrisThorogood_photoAbout the speaker: Botanist and plant hunter Chris Thorogood is the Deputy Director and Head of Science for the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum in the UK. Chris is a best-selling author of specialist and non-specialist titles including ‘Weird Plants’ and the children’s book ‘Perfectly Peculiar Plants’. Chris’s research focusses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, and plant diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Japan. Chris is a passionate communicator and ambassador for public engagement with plant sciences, and has made regular international TV appearances, including shows in the UK, Germany, China and Canada.