Science on Tap

Monthly on the last Wednesday of the month.

Come one, come all to the “science café” in Santa Cruz. This event is designed to connect the Santa Cruz community to the latest research happening just up the hill at U.C. Santa Cruz.  It is not an exclusive “club meeting” for scientists and science majors and aims to appeal to all audiences. So come, grab a beer, relax and hear some interesting cutting edge science that’s happening near you! Science on Tap is based on the Nova and Sigma Xi "science café" model and is generally on the last Wednesday of every month.

June Science on Tap with Ryan Hoffman: Brain Farming - Decoding How Our Brains Develop
Jun 29, 8:00 PM
Museum of Art History (MAH) - Back Patio
Ryan Hoffman gives us a glimpse into how he uses stem cells to understand the development of one of nature's most complicated structures: the human brain!

Using Stem Cells to Decode How Our Brains Develop

Ryan Hoffman

PhD Candidate - Haussler-Salama Lab, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Dept. UCSC 

The human body is made up of a community of close to 40 trillion cells. From a single zygote, over 200 diverse cell types are derived, each enacting a unique molecular program to spawn their specific function in your body. But how do these cells know which complicated series of genetic programs to enact, where, and when to enact them? My research is focused on how the human brain develops – specifically, how the most recently evolved region of the brain – the cerebral cortex – progresses through embryonic development and organizes. What is orchestrating neural stem cell differentiation, organization, and enacting their maturation programs to generate the fully functional, diverse landscape of the human cerebral cortex? I hypothesize that the innate interaction between the developing cerebral cortex and secreted signaling molecules in the underlying cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) plays a crucial role in the patterning and maturation of cerebral cell types.


Using stem cell derived brain organoids, I generate and model the early developmental progression of the human cerebral cortex, as well as a lesser-known brain structure – the choroid plexus – which is responsible for the production and secretion of cerebrospinal fluid throughout life. I have established a protocol for the generation of human forebrain choroid plexus organoids (ChPOs), which will be used to construct a transcriptomic and secretion profile for the development of the choroid plexus and composition of embryonic CSF. The molecular patterning program implicated from the ChPO will be examined for its patterning potential on the cerebral cortex by exposing factors identified in the CSF to cerebral organoids from within an interior ventricular-like cavity. This will be done by using an aggregation technique that utilizes hydrogels and a biodegradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microsphere to engineer an interior cavity within a cerebral organoid, enabling the sustained release of various patterning factors to its interior. By directly evaluating the secreted factor program of ChPOs for inducing patterning effects on cerebral organoids, new insight on the complex molecular programs that gives rise to the human cerebral cortex and how those programs are being orchestrated may be revealed.


Who: Everyone! Not just scientists!
When: Last Wednesday of the month at 7:00 pm 
Where: Behind the Museum of Art and History (MAH), 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz

Science on Tap at the Catalyst

*This event may return in the future.

      Join us at the "science pub" in Santa Cruz. This event is designed to connect the Santa Cruz community to the latest research happening just up the hill at U.C. Santa Cruz. It also provides an opportunity for graduate students to share their research with the community! 

     The event will be followed by "Sci-Fi Movie Night" at The Catalyst where one of your favorite sci-fi movies will be presented at 8 pm(please visit '' for more movie details). Science on Tap with generally start at 6:45 pm and the Sci-Fi movie will be shown at 8 pm. Science on Tap is generally on the second Monday of every month and is a free event! While this community event is designed for everyone, not just scientist is it 21 and over. We look forward to seeing you there! 

If you are interested in presenting at this event please email "" with the subject line "Science on Tap at the Catalyst". Please include your name, academic year, department, research topic, and availablity. Thank you!