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FameLab is an international training programme designed to inspire, motivate and develop young scientists and engineers to actively engage with the public and stakeholders.
FameLab works in a competition format to engage large audiences globally. Participants have just three minutes to win over the judges and crowd with a scientific talk, judged on content, clarity and charisma.
As part of the programme, selected participants receive training from expert UK trainers in an exclusive two-day intensive master class.
Originally started in the UK in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals, since 2007 competitions have been run around the globe thanks to the British Council and local partners. In 2015 FameLab will run in 26 countries (see FameLab 2015 in your country).
The UK is a centre of excellence for science communication and recognises that the accessibility of science to a non-scientific audience is an ever-growing priority for researchers worldwide. The finalists of each national FameLab competition receive a two-day masterclass in science communication from UK experts.
Each year the winners of the national competitions travel to The Times Cheltenham Science Festival for the FameLab International Finals. Here they prove their science communication prowess, engage with other enthusiastic science communicators, and to learn from UK experts in the field.
FameLab International 2016 final, Cheltenham Science Festival
In June 2016 Abhi Veerakumarasivam, a cancer researcher from Universiti Putra Malaysia, won FameLab International 2016, beating the other 26 finalists in an exciting and tough competition.
Abhi's talk was informative and inspiring, winning the judges over on content, clarity and charisma. He explained in simple terms the cell cycle and why a disruption in this this leads to metastisis of cancer tumours. He also highlighted the importance of science communication in reaching the public with health issues, as many cancers can be prevented through life-style changes.
Springboard to success
FameLab is recognised as being a powerful tool in identifying and nurturing new voices of science, with previous alumni developing careers in science communication.
Since winning the 2013 international final, Fergus McAuliffe from Ireland has had a busy schedule. Among other things, he has appeared on television in RTE's The Science Squad, has given a TedX talk, and was selected by Pirelli as being one of ten top talents globally to participate in a communication workshop.
The FameLab Spain 2013 finalists teamed up to form TheBigVanTheory, a science entertainment, engagement and education company, recently identified in the global top 100 most innovative STEM initiatives. Eduardo de Cabezon, co-founder of TheBigVanTheory, last year gave a TED talk in Argentina called 'Math is Forever' (see below), based on his 2013 FameLab talk. It was recently featured on the TED homepage alongside a talk from Bill Gates, and has been viewed nearly one million times.