Penn Science Cafe

Hauling science out of the lab for a night on the town, the Penn Science Café offers the Philadelphia region an opportunity to pitch questions to leading scientific experts who drop the jargon to explain their work in layman's terms. All Penn Science Café events are free and open to the public.

Upcoming events in this series:


6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Richard BerkProfessor of Criminology and Statistics and Chair of the Department of CriminologyBig Data and Algorithms: Can They Be Fair and Accurate at the Same Time? World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street

Working with Penn colleagues in statistics and computer science, Richard Berk develops and deploys algorithms that assist in criminal-justice decision making. His computer software is used to help inform whether a prison inmate is released on parole and the kind of supervision provided to individuals on probation. He is currently working on projects regarding release decisions at arraignment and police handling of incidents of intimate-partner violence. In each application, the goal is to improve current practice. Nevertheless, these tools can be controversial because of errors and potential unfairness for the people affected. Are there tradeoffs between accurate forecasts of criminal behavior and fairness, and what about the consequences for potential crime victims?

Expert faculty from the University of Pennsylvania shed light on their research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences at the Penn Lightbulb Cafe. It's an evening of engaging, stimulating conversation, with a Q&A session following each talk.

Presented by Penn Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Office of University Communications, Penn Cafe events are free and open to the public, but RSVPs are encouraged. For more information or directions, contact Gina Bryan at 215-898-8721 or email at

Menu items are available for purchase. Happy Hour pricing from 4–6 p.m.