FameLab is the world’s leading public-facing science communication competition and training program, created by Cheltenham Festivals (UK) in 2005. Since 2007, the competition has gone global in over 40 countries, with more than 40,000 scientists participating to date.
FameLab is recognised as being a powerful means to identifying and nurturing new voices in science, with previous alumni embarking on high-profile careers in science communication and the media.
The Foundation for the WA Museum is the producer and country host organisation of FameLab Australia. The focus of FameLab Australia is to promote excellence in science communication for early career STEM researchers in universities and industry. The competition is open to early career STEM researchers currently completing postgraduate studies or within five years of completing their postgraduate degrees.
The FameLab Australia 2023 Winner - Olivia Carroll
Olivia Carroll, an immunologist and microbiologist representing the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, is the winner of the FameLab Australia 2023 science communication competition. CSIRO astrometallurgist Dr Matthew Shaw, and Curtin University’s neuroscientist Melissa Papini were named runners-up.
Olivia will now represent Australia in the FameLab 2023 International Final held on 24 November 2023. The international FameLab Final will feature the country winners from Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand.
No ordinary science communication competition
FameLab provides an ideal platform for early career researchers to tell a national and international audience about their work, represent their organisation, and create career opportunities by creating a profile as a quality researcher and trained communicator. And FameLab is more than a competition - the program offers participants extensive science communication training.
All qualified applicants are able to attend a science communication training workshop to help them prepare their first presentation – a 3-minute video submission. The applicants chosen for the semi-finals receive additional science communication training provided by subject matter experts.
The finalists who are selected from the semi-finals receive additional Masterclass training as well as a free, immersive, 3-night science communication experience in Perth where they compete live on stage for the title of Australian FameLab Winner.
FameLab judging critera
The same judging criteria for all FameLab presentations apply globally for all contestants. Content, Clarity and Charisma (the three Cs of FameLab) are central for the identification of quality science communicators. Each contestant has a strict maximum time limit of three minutes for their presentation.
The content must be scientifically accurate. If the chosen topic has controversy or uncertainty around it, the presentation must acknowledge the opposing views. The content also needs to be presented in a way that is understandable to a non-specialist, general public audience.
Clarity is critical to effective communication. The structure of the presentation is important, as well as the need to ensure that the judges and the audience can follow the talk and are left with a greater understanding of the scientific concepts chosen.
The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The presenter needs to present their authentic self and their passion for their topic. The winner will have that hard-to-describe but unmistakable quality of charisma, and will be the person who makes science easy to listen to, entertaining and exciting.
Content, clarity and charisma are topics covered extensively in FameLab training in order to provide participants with relevant and useful skills for the competition and their careers.
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