January 19, 2015, by Tara de Cozar

Can you explain your PhD in the pub?

What do PhDs and pints have in common? Guest blogger Kash Farooq explains in this post about the PubhD programme.

PubhD is a monthly event that showcases local research to the public, and celebrates its one year birthday this month.

The basic idea originated from the question: “Do you think we could persuade local PhD students to come and tell us what they do if we buy them a pint?”. After a few more conversations, and a blog post here and there, it was clear that:

  • PhD students like to talk about their research, and the promise of a pint is just a bonus.
  • there is an audience that would be interested in attending such an event and hearing about local research.

So, we came up with a format, we came up with a name (it’s a portmanteau of “Pub” and “PhD”) and PubhD was born.

The first event was in Nottingham in January 2014 and featured physics, archaeology and psychology. It was a huge success. Over 30 PhD students applied for the three speaking slots, and an audience of about 50 people squeezed into the function room at the Vat and Fiddle pub.

There was clearly an interest from both speakers and punters, and monthly PubhD events have been taking place since that first event. PubhDs have started appearing around the country too. So far there have been PubhD events in Leicester, Sheffield, Lincoln, and Glasgow.

At a PubhD event, each speaker gets 10 minutes to give a “pub level” overview of their research topic. This is followed by a 20 minute Q&A session. We intentionally decided on a longer Q&A session as the speakers may not necessarily know what the public wants to know about their research. The Q&As are friendly and the audiences ask genuinely interesting questions.

The speakers love the idea. They get public speaking practice, they add it to their “outreach” CV sections, and learn presentation skills from each other. Many speakers have returned as punters and have started using it as a bit of a networking event. A favourite moment was the archaeologist speaker from PubhD #1 asking the astrophysicist speaker at PubhD #2 a question about dark matter!

PubhD is open to all subject areas. It’s also open to postdocs and other researchers. So far we’ve had talks from areas as diverse as biology, music, politics, neuroscience, media, medicine, philosophy, astrophysics, literature, physics, psychology, art and design, geoscience and archaeology.

If you are interested in speaking at a PubhD event, please get in touch. And if you need persuading, here is some speaker feedback.

Blog: http://pubhd.wordpress.com/

Next event: http://pubhd.wordpress.com/next-event/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_PubhD

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PubhD/

Kash Farooq is a freelance software developer and part-time Open University physics student.

He co-organises Nottingham Skeptics and PubhD because he likes listening to interesting people give interesting talks in pubs.


Posted in interdisciplinaritypublic engagementresearch