Free NIU STEM Cafés every Wednesday in October – Rochelle News Leader

DEKALB — Northern Illinois University STEAM is celebrating science, technology, engineering and math all month long with STEM Cafés every Wednesday in October at 6 p.m. Each café features expert speakers who will explore current STEM topics and new research. Some take place in person at Fatty’s Pub and Grille (1312 W. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb) and others are online. All are free and open to the public. Learn more and register for these free events at

The celebration of science begins on Oct. 6 with “Farm of the Future: Food Systems Innovation and Vertical Farming,” at 6 p.m. in person at Fatty’s Pub and Grille. Bryan Flower, chef, farmer, educator and NIU assistant director for food system innovation and Kevin Martin, Ph.D., NIU associate professor of engineering technology, will discuss how innovative research and technology are helping to make crop production more efficient and versatile in response to current challenges, including climate change.

On Oct. 13 an online STEM Café will explore “The Science Behind the COVID-19 Vaccines.” Penny Jensen, Ph.D., a research scientist with a Ph.D. in physiology/biochemistry who has worked at Thermo Fisher Scientific for more than 12 years, will explain the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines. She’ll help to separate fact from fiction so audience members can make informed decisions. Matt Streb, Ph.D., NIU chief of staff to the president, will discuss university decision-making processes related to COVID-19.

On Oct. 20, the STEM Café returns to Fatty’s Pub and Grille in person for “Plastic Predicament: How Microplastics Affect Groundwater.” Megan Brown, Ph.D., and Melissa Lenczewski, Ph.D., two NIU professors in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, will discuss the latest research into how plastics break down into small bits called microplastics that are dangerous for our environment and possibly our health.

On Oct. 27, the STEM Café team will partner with NIU STEM Read and the NIU Libraries to present “The Haunted Mind,” just in time for Halloween. Grady Hendrix, author of “The Final Girl Support Group,” “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” and “Horrorstör” will join librarian and local history expert Konrad Stump as well as other experts for a spirited discussion of the environmental and neurological conditions that shape people’s belief in ghosts or their tendency to experience delusions.

Learn more about all the STEM Cafés and register for these free events at


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