‘Seafood Tango’. Full show

Let me show you a short video, with lots of music and few clothes. Plus, you’ll learn about contaminants in food. The Internet is about to explode!

Last May I performed my last show at the SETAC Europe 27th annual meeting. It was a cabaret about contaminants in seafood from Europe. More precisely, it was about flame retardants, which are used to prevent fires and reach the sea and sea life. And, as karma goes, they end up in the consumers’ stomach.

But don’t let me tell you about it. See it with your own eyes in this 10-minute video that SETAC Europe shared with me so that I can share with you. I’ve even added subtitles.

‘Seafood Tango’, a cabaret act about seafood safety

Ladies and gentelmen, this year’s SETAC meeting will bring the 4th edition of their science slam session. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Preparations for the video [photo©: Manuel García]

Preparations for the video [photo©: Manuel García]

SETAC Europe 27th annual meeting is taking place in Brussels next May. If you have read my blog in the last two years, you already know that my favourite session of the SETAC congress is the science slam. If you are new to my humble site, this session allows scientists to present their research in original and unexpected entertaining ways.

I’ve always been of the opinion that science slam is like sex; it’s great to watch, but it feels so much better to participate! That’s why, once more, I’m submitting a video presentation of my new show in order to be selected for this year’s session.

This cabaret-style number is a seafood take on Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago. It was premiered at the ECsafeSEAFOOD Final Conference three weeks ago, also in Brussels. Now I’m going to share it with a bigger audience —because I didn’t learn to do my make-up for just one day, girl!

The good thing is this time I’m not singing that much. You’re welcome.

1st SETAC science slam across the pond

It’s been almost two months since my post about the science slam in SETAC Nantes (video of the whole show included—check it out!). If you got any ideas from that, you should know that it’s happening again soon in Orlando.

It has now been three years of successful science slams for SETAC Europe. In exactly three months SETAC North America is going to hold their first edition at the other side of the pond. The good news is that an extended deadline means you can apply to the session until next Friday! At first it was last Monday.

Of course, to apply you should be a researcher who’s willing to work some extra hours in August and provide a fine product before a ridiculously close deadline now. Same old, same old.

You’ll find very detailed and useful information on the official website. You can also watch this video for lighter information. Yes, it’s me… singing… I should stop doing this.

Science slam: Enjoy learning science

A year ago I introduced some of you to the science slam world through my application. It’s about time to tell you about the consequences of that.

One of the slammers in Nantes last month [frame from the video]

One of the slammers in Nantes last month [frame from the video]

In April 2015, I performed in a special session of a scientific congress. The aim of that session was to present our work in a way that it was attractive, entertaining and easy to understand. Science for the people if you like. It was also a contest. And I won it. Indeed, my Disney musical about pesticides in salmon was a great success in spite of my singing skills. I guess that my moves, the unexpected on-stage costume change and the cheeky jokes made up for that.

Since that day, strangers approach me in every congress to remind me that to them I’m a showman and all my scientific achievements will never mean a thing next to that. I must say it doesn’t bother me as long as I can make a living out of it.

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) seems to be trying to help with that. Last December they published an interview to me and the winner of the first edition in SETAC Globe. And they offered us to host this year’s science slam in Nantes. Needless to say, we accepted.

It is frustrating to answer ‘no’ every time someone asks if there’s a recording of my musical. But this year my co-host, Michele De Rosa, filmed the whole show, except the battery died during the last slammer’s presentation. However, they reconstructed the end with footage from Erica Brockmeier, who was making a documentary on the show. This is why now you can enjoy it yourselves. You’re welcome.

Posters at scientific congresses

A year ago I posted about scientific congresses, where researchers share their results. I mentioned posters and today they’re getting the post they deserve.

A great example I came across in Nantes

A great example I came across in Nantes

Last Monday I showed two posters at the SETAC congress in Nantes. Scientists present our results in poster format for different reasons. First situation is when we aim at an oral presentation, but the chairpersons of the session decide that other studies are a better way to use their limited couple of hours. Your work is therefore exiled to the exposition room—because an extra poster won’t take too much space in that huge hall. On the other hand, the deadline might be too close and our study is just beginning or we have only a few results. A poster can contain less information and this is less compromising when writing the abstract for applying. In other cases we know we don’t have the time for it or that our results are poor.

Posters are hung for a whole day and renewed next. Scientists look at them during coffee-breaks having a snack or at lunch time. Some even ask questions to the authors. I think it is actually a moment for socialising and networking rather than debating the studies.

More than half of the posters are aesthetic aberrations with silly fonts, colours that impede reading, chaotic distributions, low-resolution images or pictures made with Paint. Most of the remaining posters give too much information and have intricate writing or an unclear narrative line. And the 10 % that are worth reading don’t belong to my field of expertise; which is fine with me, since I can devote my time to eating pastries.

Scientific congresses are not like Eurovision

Some will say that’s good news, some will say it’s a shame and most people don’t actually care. Be it as it may, today we’re dissecting a scientific congress.

Let’s start with the basics. The main event at congresses is what you’d expect: researchers exposing their study results—giving just enough details for peer not to reproduce them. They are allowed 15-20 minutes and answer a couple of questions from the attendees at the end.

What you see is what you get [poto©: Fruitnet.com]

What you see is what you get [poto©: Fruitnet.com]

That’s 5 hours a day times several parallel sessions times 3-5 days. In the greatest congresses, there are so many sessions that some are way out of your field. Not that it matters since you’re busy with your schedule to see some specific talks. There’s also an opening speech, the closing remarks and some guest speakers now and then.

Just between us, being a scientist and a good speaker is not the default package, thus sometimes it’s hard to attend a conceptually interesting presentation. On the other hand, some questions are not as much born from curiosity as from nastiness.

Apart from lunch, there’s a coffee-break in the morning and in the afternoon. These are standing breaks in the expositors room where companies and posters are (because those who aren’t given a platform presentation have to settle for showing their results on a poster). Lunch can be in a dining room—if the venue is a hotel—or standing. Last autumn I even attended a congress where we were given free time to find our own food.

Finally, the social programme includes the reception, sightseeing tours, the gala dinner… some of them at an additional cost. In these events, the most respectable scientist goes wild until late. However, next morning at 9 p.m. they go back to proper science talks.

The parties after dinners and the international participants are the closest you get to Eurovision. Actually, the closer a congress has got to Eurovision—that I know—was something I couldn’t see. I was too busy doing it.