STEM Cafés

Feed Your Mind!

Join us for monthly STEM Cafés - fun, casual gatherings where adults can eat, drink, and chat with STEM professionals about the latest scientific research. These events are free and open to the public. Usually, we meet in a local restaurant, but for now our STEM Cafés are online, so bring your own food and drink and join us for the next virtual STEM Café. Interested in accessing our previous STEM Café recordings? Find them all - including our series of cafés related to COVID-19 - on our YouTube channel.

Upcoming Cafés

Teen Cafés

Our Teen STEM Cafés are designed specifically to appeal to high school students to spark and expand their interest in science, technology, engineering and math. We collaborate with libraries, park districts and high schools to bring intriguing STEM-related conversations to your community. Our speakers are vibrant college professors, graduate students and STEM experts. We will work together to create content around a theme that supports your curriculum and program goals. Previous Teen STEM Café topics include robotics, biology, and music.

Want to learn more about hosting or attending a Teen STEM Café? Contact Judith Dymond at

Past Cafés

Legalization of Cannabis
Scot Schraufnagel, Ph.D., NIU department chair, Department of Political Science

Swarming Robots
Sachit Butail, Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

DeKalb County Health Department Responds to COVID-19
Public Health Administrator Lisa Gonzalez, MPH; Director of Community Health & Prevention & Emergency Preparedness Cindy Graves, RN, MSHA; and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Melissa Edwards, MPH

Stressed & Depressed? You’re Not Alone
Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education; Sarah Klaper, JD, university ombudsperson; Brian Smith, MSW, LCSW, director of the employee assistance program

The Science Behind the Virus
Pallavi Singh, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Eating in the 21st Century
Julie Ann Patterson, NIU assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics; Nancy Prange, registered dietitian and dietetic internship director at NIU; Lisa Brandt, registered dietitian, Hy-Vee

Surviving and Thriving: How Businesses are Innovating for Today and Tomorrow
Mya Pronschinske Groza, Ph.D., NIU associate professor, marketing; Carl Campbell, Ph.D., chair of NIU Department of Economics; Norm Walzer, Ph.D., senior research scholar, NIU Center for Governmental Studies; Federico Sciammarella, Ph.D., president of MxD in Chicago

Backyard Wildlife: Urban Ecology and Conservation
John Vanek, Ph.D., wildlife biologist and postdoctoral fellow

Earthquakes and Fracking
Philip Carpenter, Ph.D., NIU professor, Geology and Environmental Geosciences; Megan Brown, Ph.D., NIU assistant professor, Geology and Environmental Geosciences

Chris Stoughton, Fermilab; Joel Knapper, NASA ambassador; Jeremy Benson, NIU STEM educator

What Lurks Beneath: How Soil Microbes Support Plant Health
Wesley Swingley, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Biology

Not So Creepy Critters: Exploring Reptiles and Amphibians
John Vanek, Ph.D., wildlife biologist and postdoctoral fellow

The Secret Lives of Rare Elements
Mark Frank, Ph.D., professor, Geology and Environmental Geosciences

Fear of First Contact: How Science and Fiction Inform Our Search for Alien Life
Daniel Kraus, author of Bent Heavens, The Shape of Water; Patrick S. Tomlinson, author of Gate Crashers, In the Black; Clarence Chang, physicist, Argonne National Laboratory

The Science Behind Haunted Houses
Paul Kassel, dean, NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts; William J. (Jim) Langley, Jr., retired scene and lighting theater professor

Board Game Renaissance: Leveraging Virtual Connections in a Time of Physical Distancing
Paul Booth, Ph.D., professor of media and cinema studies, DePaul University; Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education, Northern Illinois University

Supply Chain Puzzle: How will holiday gifts get to your door?
Christine Nguyen, Ph.D., NIU associate professor, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology