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Oxford champion will go to FameLab UK final

Monday 11th March 2019

Sam Hatfield, an atmospheric physics PhD student at the University of Oxford, has won the Oxford final of FameLab UK 2019 – the countrywide talent competition for people working in science, technology, maths, computing and engineering. At a thrilling final at the Wig and Pen in Oxford on Friday night, Sam beat 11 fellow competitors from across the region to be crowned the king of science chatter.

Famelab UK aims to find the new voices of science and engineering. People with a gift for creating an engaging story around either their own scientific research or an area of science they find interesting, were given just three minutes to win over a panel of judges and audience. Previous participants have included teachers and oil engineers, as well as junior doctors.

The Oxford regional final was hosted by Science Oxford. Twelve brave contestants performed their three-minute skits in front of judges that included immunologist Berne Ferry, biologist and public engagement champion John Runions and author Georgina Ferry.

Using his very own weather maps, Sam talked about the chaos of weather patterns and how, maybe, we should just accept that predicting the forecast is never going to be perfect. The key criteria for becoming a FameLab winner are content, clarity and charisma and Sam had all three in spades. He had the audience in hysterics when describing how U.S and European weather forecasts for a recent hurricane were completely contradictory, with one (an American forecast) showing the hurricane turning left across the Atlantic and striking the west coast of the States while the other (European) predicted it would curve right and lose power quickly.

Sam will now head to the UK final of FameLab, to be held during the Cheltenham Science Festival in June.

Luiza Patorski, Science Oxford events manager, said: “Sam has been brilliant throughout the competition – he has such an engaging style of communicating with an audience. Despite some very tough competition on the night, Sam took the final by storm – relating his weather topic in a way that everyone could understand, with great props and great presenting skills. We wish him all the best for the UK final.”

Judge Georgina Ferry said, “I have been a FameLab judge for many years but can truly say that the standard (at this year’s FameLab) was the highest we have ever seen.”

The regional runner-up was Juniad Mubeen, Director of Education at Whizz Education and the Oxford Maths Club, who gave a very engaging talk about maths and the ‘Infinite Hotel’.


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