Science cafés are a relaxed, open venue for nonscientists and scientists to discuss current topics.  At a café you can learn about the latest issues in science, chat with a scientist in plain language, meet new friends and speak your mind. 

Our café starts with some trivia questions to get the neurons firing and encourage active participation by everyone, followed by a presentation by a scientist and discussion.  They are open to everyone, and the material will be broadly accessible.  We think science and wine (or beer) is a good combination, so ours are held at a local pub.


Past Topics

Future Topics

April 16

8:00 - 9:00 pm

Dustys Cellar

1839 Grand River Avenue

Okemos, Michigan 48864

Molecular Paleontology:

Complementarity and Modularity in Chemical Evolution from Origins of Life to Physiological Regulation

Presented by: 

Prof. Robert Root-Bernstein

Michigan State University

Department of Physiology

MSU Science Café


Sponsored in part by:


 MSU section of ACS      and       NOVA Science NOW


For further information contact: hamann at




Selection for the chemicals that became incorporated into living systems was a natural part of the ecosystem of the primordial Earth.  Heat and light drove both the synthesis and destruction of compounds.  The formation of molecularly complementary complexes protected some molecules and catalyzed the formation of others. The result was a newly emergent ecology of interactive compounds that formed interactive modules with novel properties.  These modules left their marks on the selection of the compounds used in modern living systems in the form of a “molecular paleontology” that reveals how complex systems such as receptors and transporters evolved.  Thus, modern physiological systems reflect the simple chemistry of the primordial Earth in unexpected and revealing ways. Of equal importance, modularity was also an essential strategy for significantly decreasing the number of permutations of chemical species that evolution had to explore before hitting upon adaptive ones.  In sum, chemical selection for complementarity not only shaped life but made it possible.