26 November 2020
- Switzerland-based doctoral researcher Sauradeep Majumdar has won the FameLab International 2020 science communication competition with his three-minute talk explaining how scientists are using carbon capture to combat climate change.
- Qatar’s Ahmad Maani and the UK’s Rebecca Ellis awarded runner-up places while Gabriela Ramos Leal secured the audience prize.
- Thousands of viewers from 75 countries tuned in to the FameLab YouTube channel throughout November as 20 international researchers competed to captivate the audience with bite-sized scientific talks. The International Final was held on 26 November hosted by UK science presenter and YouTuber Greg Foot.
A global initiative to seek and support emerging talent in science communication has culminated in Switzerland-based researcher Sauradeep Majumdar being crowned FameLab International 2020 Champion.
Sauradeep, a 27-year-old doctoral researcher from the department of chemistry and chemical engineering at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), beat off strong competition from 19 scientists in the semi-final heats and final to secure the top spot in FameLab International 2020.
In his winning talk, Sauradeep explained how scientists are working to combat climate change by making new materials that can attract and capture carbon dioxide molecules.
He said: ‘We can design a roadmap to search for the best materials for carbon capture so that industries can put these materials into practice and together we can all contribute towards making our planet a safer place for our future generations.’
Sauradeep’s talk impressed the trio of judges Roma Agrawal, Jon Chase and Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón who rated each presentation on the ‘three Cs’: content and clarity and charisma. Commenting on Sauradeep’s talk, Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón said: ‘Everyone was engaged with his talk, and we learnt a lot! Sauradeep gave us science, fun - and hope!’
While FameLab national representatives usually compete for the international title at Cheltenham Science Festival, this year the contestants swapped the festival stage for a virtual platform as FameLab adapted to a new online format in response to the pandemic.
The science communication YouTube shows have proven to be a hit with global audiences, with thousands of viewers from 75 countries tuning in the streamed events and voting for their favourite talks.
Commenting on his experience as judge, Jon Chase said: ‘The finalists are an outstanding group of individuals, and it brought a real sense of joy meeting keen communicators from across the globe. The variety of approaches and their willingness to engage the public was a pleasure to experience.’
Indian-born Sauradeep’s victory marks the second time a Swiss representative has taken the FameLab International global champion title, and continues the phenomenon of representatives for Switzerland originally hailing from another country – a pattern that has occurred since Switzerland first competed in FameLab in 2012.
Speaking of his FameLab experience, Sauradeep said: ‘I loved being part of the FameLab family, and getting to know the International Finalists. Even though we couldn’t meet in person – the way we connected, cheering for each other when giving our talks, supporting each other and sharing our science – this is something that was like a magical feeling!’
Ali Mawle, Director of Learning and Public Engagement for Cheltenham Festivals, said: ‘The FameLab International Finals saw an incredible sharing of knowledge and learning across continents and industries. The finalists talked so passionately about their research, and this has enabled people all over the world to connect with science and understand how it has a direct bearing on their lives.’
Jen Bardsley, Head of Global Science at the British Council added: ‘In a year where we’ve all experienced restrictions due to the pandemic, FameLab International has adapted amazingly and blossomed online, positively bringing together cultures through science communication with inspirational outcomes.'