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The relaxing way to chat about science in Oxford

The Cafe Scientifique is a successful UK community the idea for which was originally imported from France. The Oxford Cafe was the fourth to be started and there are now dozens of Cafes Scientifiques across the British Isles, while the concept is also now spreading widely overseas. The point of the Cafe is to provide a public forum in which scientific ideas can be discussed informally involving scientists and non-scientists alike, aiming to inform, to entertain, and to provoke debate.

The Oxford Cafe Sci meets on the second Tuesday of each month except August, all are welcome and no scientific background is required. Visit the FAQ page for more information if you have never been to a Cafe event before.

The links on the left of this page give more details.


See the Cafe audio page for streaming audio files of many of the recent Cafe talks. These are usually the introductory talks, although several recent discussions have been recorded too. Some talks have associated image or presentation files linked. As a matter of policy audio files are not published straight away, but a minimum of a month later.

Tuesday 9th January 2018 - Professor Fritz Vollrath

Silks in Medicine

The original Spider Man and head of the Oxford Silk Group, Professor Vollrath used to be famous for keeping golden orb web spiders on the roof of the Zoology department at Oxford University. Now that the building is being rebuilt, his arachnids have presumably had to find another home, but his enthusiasm for their extraordinary engineering feats remains undimmed. Silks are made from proteins with fascinating properties: tough, stable, environmentally sustainable and ultimately disposable. They are made by animals such as spiders and lepidoptera at room temperature and pressure, an extraordinary feat.

As director of Oxford Biomaterials, Professor Vollrath heads up the investigation into how novel silk-based polymers can revolutionise medical devices, using their biocompatibility and mechanical properties to solve medical issues. Silks are now being used by the company to develop synthetic vascular grafts for blood dialysis, silk-based products for nerve repair, and scaffolds with properties very similar to human cartilage and bone. Professor Vollrath will update the Cafe on the latest discoveries and devices his collaborations are producing.


Future dates:

  • Tuesday 13th February 2018
  • Tuesday 13th March 2018
  • Tuesday 10th April 2018
  • Tuesday 8th May 2018
  • Tuesday 12th June 2018
  • Tuesday 10th July 2018

    We take a break in August each year and will be back in September.

    If you are not already on our mailing list for updates, please see the foot of this page for how to subscribe.


    For full details of how to find the centre including pictures, parking suggestions and local transport links, please visit the Museum Cafe details page on this website.

    The Cafe starts at 7:30pm, with doors opening at 7pm, and it is usually finished by around 9pm.

    There is no formal entry fee, but a hat is passed round during the break between talk and discussion, and all contributions are welcome and help towards providing the facilities and speakers.


    We are very grateful for the help given by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and its staff, for allowing us to use the visitor centre for our events, and giving us excellent practical support on Cafe nights. The help of Chris Jarvis, education coordinator, and the occasional lending of exhibits and items from the collection, is particularly appreciated.

    We are also very grateful for the help of Science Oxford Live, which housed the Cafe for two years and continue to support us. Visit the SO website, the SO Twitter feed or sign up to the SO email newsletter.

    OxCafeSci on Twitter - jump to @oxcafesci

    Mailing list - The OxCafeSci mailing list sends out announcements about speakers and events. It allows automatic joining. To subscribe to the Cafe mailing list please send an email from the address you want to use, to cafesci-subscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk. To unsubscribe, use cafesci-unsubscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk. To use other addresses please refer to the EZMLM users' guide.

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