Scientists on point for Oxford’s FameLab heats

Following talks as diverse as ‘How to build a mind,’ ‘Jungle remedies’ and ‘Scrambled flu and contagious eggs’, eight brave and brilliant performers have made it through to the final of the Oxford region’s FameLab UK competition.

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, have just three minutes to win over a panel of judges and audience. Previous participants have included teachers, oil engineers and junior doctors.

The Oxford heats took place over two nights this week and were hosted by Science Oxford. Twelve brave contestants took part, performing their three-minute skits in front of an audience and panel of judges that included BBC stargazer Chris Lintott and writer/broadcaster Georgina Ferry.

The eight finalists, who go through to the regional final on March 7th at The Bullingdon, are:

  • Mubeen Goolam, a biologist at the University of Oxford who talked about ‘The Superhero of cells’
  • Kirsten Lees, an environmental scientist at the University of Reading, who talked about ‘Can peatlands save the world’
  • Tom Crawford, a maths tutor at St Hugh’s College, who wore a toga and talked about his favourite shapes.
  • Rudin Petrossian-Byrne, a physicist at the University of Oxford who is studying the origins of dark matter and who asked the question ‘how do magnets talk?’
  • James Eaton, a chemical biologist at the University of Oxford, who talked about ‘Finding drugs in nature’
  • Bernadeta Dadonaite, a biologist at the University of Oxford who made it to the regional final in 2017, offered us ‘Vaccines served with scrambled flu and contagious eggs’.
  • Mike Walmsley, an astrophysicist who studies galaxies and talked about ‘How to build a mind’ .
  • Lucy Guile, a junior doctor currently based in Bristol, who described how a deadly plant has become a crucial part of modern surgery in ‘Jungle remedies.’

Oxford competitors have a great record of making it to the national final of FameLab and in 2016 the Science Oxford heats generated both the eventual winner Kyle Evans and the runner-up Jase Taylor. Science Oxford provides training and support for all the performers and gives them training and opportunities to work on their acts via programmes such as Science Oxford Science Cabarets.

Previous FameLab UK entrant (2015 competition) and Oxford University physicist Francesca Day credits her FameLab experience for giving her a huge opportunity. She says: “Taking part in FameLab was great fun. One of the most valuable aspects was receiving training and feedback from the judges.  It gave me the confidence to go on to develop and perform my own solo science comedy show for Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.”

The regional final will take place at The Bullingdon, Cowley Road on Wednesday 7th March and the winner will go on to the national final in London in April 2018. Book your tickets here.

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