Creating conversations between science and society to address the sustainable development goals was the focus of the 2018 FameLab South Africa final held at the Future Earth conference at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.
Emmie Chiyindiko, a Masters student at the University of the Free State, won the title of FameLab South Africa champion with a talk which had the audience engaged from the beginning. She used the analogy of a relationship match-maker to explain the role of catalysis in food, water and energy production. She will travel to the international competition in the United Kingdom in June to represent South Africa.
Runners-up, Sebabatso Maifadi from the University of South Africa and Buhle Buyana from the University of Fort Hare also impressed the audience and judges, linking their research to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Director of Jive Media Africa, Robert Inglis, highlighted the importance of the communication skills developed through FameLab for “having conversations about science which can ultimately lead to solutions for a more sustainable and equitable future”.
The format of the FameLab competition requires participants to present their research to a panel of expert judges within three minutes. Their talks are judged on content, clarity and charisma.
Deputy CEO of the National Research Foundation, Dr Gansen Pillay, praised the young researchers for their commitment to engaging the public in their research and will hold further discussions with all the finalists about the future of science in South Africa.
Anisa Khan, at the British Council, expressed her delight that there were so many women among the finalists, saying, “We must ensure that all voices are part of the science conversation.”
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Huge congratulations to the 2018 finalists:
– Nyasha Chimhandamba (finalist) – University of Cape Town
– Nobuhle Mweli (semi-finalist) – South African Environmental Observation Network
– Darryl Herron (finalist) and Khavharendwe Rambau (semi-finalist) – Science Forum South Africa
– Brian Rathabe (semi-finalist) – University of Limpopo
– Emmie Chiyindiko (finalist and 2018 winner) – University of the Free State
– Sylvia Mokuoane (semi-finalist) – Central University of Technology
– Bonisiwe Seshabela (semi-finalist) and Sebabatso Maifadi (finalist and runner-up) – University of South Africa
– Thlangelani Nghondzweni (semi-finalist) – Tshwane University of Technology
– Buhle Buyana (finalist and runner-up) – University of Fort Hare
– Sinethemba Makhanya (finalist) and Olaperi Okuboyejo (finalist) – University of the Witwatersrand
– Puleng Maleko-Boyce (finalist) – Nelson Mandela University
FameLab is an international competition by Cheltenham Festivals designed to inspire, motivate and develop young scientists and engineers to actively engage with the public. With over 30 participating countries, it has been dubbed the ‘Pop Idols of Science’! FameLab South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement together with research communication specialists Jive Media Africa.