Perform at the Cheltenham Science Festival with FameLab

Friday, 30 January, 2015

The British Council has opened the call for applications for FameLab 2015 - a competition for science, maths and engineering researchers with a determination to build their communication skills and make strong connections with others.

FameLab International finds and mentors young researchers who have a flair for connecting with public audiences, and teaches them to communicate their work to society as a whole. Co-presented by the British Council and The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, the event has been running annually since 2007, over which time more than 5000 participants from 25 countries have taken the stage to ‘perform’ their science for live audiences.

The competition came to Australia in 2014, with 12 researchers competing at the gala national final at The Western Australian Museum. Dr Michael Smout, a medical researcher from James Cook University, won the 2014 final with an elucidation of his work with the parasitic Thai liver worm and its therapeutic saliva.

“I entered FameLab because I really enjoy spreading my love of science,” Dr Smout said. “Presenting terrifies me, but [it’s necessary in] spreading the word and trying to get more people enthused about science in general.

“Going to Cheltenham with FameLab was just an amazing experience. Twenty-five countries [were represented],and most of them without English as their first language, some of them with even English as their third language, so it was just incredible to see the different range of presentation styles, how different people get their ideas across.”

British Council Australia Director Helen O’Neil also said the competition is valuable in promoting the uptake of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies in future generations, noting, “We help researchers and teachers explain their work in a creative way which recognises we need great advocates for new knowledge and experimentation. Science deserves a place on centre stage.”

FameLab advocate Professor Lynn Beazley AO, the former chief scientist of Western Australia, added that the competition’s importance lies in “not just doing science, but learning how to communicate it and translating it to improve life on our planet”.

Applications for FameLab Australia are open at and close on 27 February 2015. Applicants can be honours students, graduate students or up to five years post-PhD, researching in any field of science, maths or engineering.

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