Dear Café Scientifiquers, our next café will happen on Tuesday, July 31st at 7:30pm in the back room at Yagger’s Downtown (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Nienke van Houten from the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. Her topic will be:

Test Tubes to Teaching: How Anti-Vaxxers and a Global Financial Crisis Shaped my Career

Part research talk, and part memoir, Dr. van Houten will describe her career progression from vaccine design scientist to education researcher. From early childhood, Dr. van Houten developed an unrelenting interest in human biology and infectious diseases and made it her goal to become a scientist. Her passion for vaccines came about, in part, due to the publicity surrounding the infamous retracted paper in The Lancet that erroneously connected measles vaccination with autism. Her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research focused on how vaccines work, and she engineered anti-viral vaccines to produce focused antibody responses. However, her plan of working in the pharmaceutical industry was sidelined by the financial crash of 2008, and she was offered a full time teaching faculty position. This created an opportunity to study how students think critically about science and apply those findings to train students to recognize bad science such as that promoted by anti-vaxxers and other garbage “science” that pervades our society.


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