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FameLab-ulous week for science stars

Friday 15th February 2019

Science Oxford has had an absolutely FameLab-ulous week, with 27 brave contestants performing a combined 2 hours and 15 minutes worth of sci-comm gold in front of judges and audience as part of the FameLab UK Oxford heats.

FameLab UK, a science communication competition where contestants have just three minutes to talk about their area of science with as much ‘C’ as possible – content, clarity, and charisma – saw its biggest ever Oxford cohort this year, with 27 performers. It was also a first in terms of judges – the all-female panel on International Women and Girls in Science day went down an absolute storm on twitter! Judges included eminent science writer Georgina Ferry and science communicator Renee Watson, plus former FameLabbers Lucy Rogers (now a judge on Robot Wars) and astrophysicist Beccy Smethurst.

International Women and Girls in Science day judging panel

The brave contestants, parleying to a keen-eared audience of friends, family and the public, delighted us with talks of our chances of outrunning a 20 ft chicken in heels, why sulphur (often feared by the ancients) is actually an element for all occasions, and astonished us with tales of the healing powers of poo.

Pic of Big Bertha thanks to @reneewatson77

The judges had a worrying moment when they came up close and personal to an experiment which could have ended in a soaking – did you know that if you cover a Mento in lard it won’t react to cola? (Good job That worked!)

Four winners were chosen from each heat to go on to the regional final on March 8th at the Wig and Pen (Book your tickets here.)

They include Danielle Perro, who whipped up an inflammatory endometri-(oh what?)-sis storm using physical theatre, and Brooke Johnson, who handed the audience Big Bertha – a never-seen-before bacterial ball of snot and poo 1.3 billion years old.

Past contestant, judge and national FameLab UK runner up Jason Taylor said, “I was particularly struck by how excellent it was to see some of the less-trodden (and perhaps less glamourous!) topics like large numbers and weather forecasting making a strong showing — proving once and for that it’s not what you know; it’s how you communicate it!

Jase Taylor examining Big Bertha


FameLab Finalists 2019: 

Aimee Ross- a Particle Physics PhD student at Oxford University

Isa Bonachera – works in cybersecurity

Matthew Tompkins – recently completed DPhil at Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology

Matthew Greenwell – studying for a PhD in landscape genetics at the University of Reading

Nuria Melisa Morales Garcia – a third year PhD Palaeobiology student at the University of Bristol

Junaid Mubeen – Director of Education at Whizz Education and runs the Oxford Maths Club

Brooke Johnson – Geology PhD at Oxford University

Jack Rowbotham – researcher in the Chemistry department Oxford University

Marie-Claire Koschowitz – evolutionary biologist and 4th year DPhil student in Oxford

Katerina Johnson –  biologist & PHD in how gut microbiome can affect the brain and behaviour

Danielle Perro – first year DPhil student at Oxford studying in the department of women’s and reproductive health

Sam Hatfield – DPhil student in atmospheric physics


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