Biodesign's Arvind Varsani at the first "Sip of Science" event

Biodesign Institute’s 'Penguin Whisperer' kicks off 'A Sip of Science' series

By

Ben N. Petersen

Arizona State University's own “Penguin Whisperer” kicked off the Biodesign Institute’s new event series, “A Sip of Science,” Thursday night at the George and Dragon restaurant in central Phoenix. Dressed for the occasion in a penguin suit, molecular virologist Arvind Varsani entertained the crowd of over 40 people with stories about penguins, viruses and life as a researcher working in Antarctica.

“What do you call a penguin in the desert?” Varsani joked. “A lost penguin!”

Varsani is an associate professor at the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics at ASU. His research has taken him around the globe, from the tropics to Antarctica. He described his work studying the role of viruses in ecosystems such as the penguin colonies in Antarctica and answered questions from attendees.

The event was the first of six science chats to be held at restaurants around the Phoenix Valley. “A Sip of Science” is a new outreach program that allows the general public to mingle with notable researchers and scientists and learn about some of the world’s most fascinating scientific issues. The series runs through May 8; more information is available on the Biodesign website. As for Varsani, he is headed back to Antarctica later this year to continue his research.