FameLab South Africa: Univer­sity of the Free State’s Em­mie Chiyindiko wins

She will now com­pete in the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in the UK

Mail & Guardian - - Famelab -

Cre­at­ing con­ver­sa­tions be­tween science and so­ci­ety was the fo­cus of the FameLab South Africa fi­nal held at the Fu­ture Earth con­fer­ence in Port El­iz­a­beth.

Thirteen South Africa re­searchers gath­ered to com­pete for the chance to rep­re­sent South Africa in the in­ter­na­tional FameLab com­pe­ti­tion. Em­mie Chiyindiko from the Univer­sity of the Free State won the ti­tle and will now com­pete in the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in the United King­dom.

Run­ners-up Se­ba­batso Maifadi from the Univer­sity of South Africa and Buhle Buyana from the Univer­sity of Fort Hare en­gaged and en­ter­tained the au­di­ence, link­ing their re­search to sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals, the theme of the Fu­ture Earth con­fer­ence at which the fi­nal was held.

Deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Na­tional Re­search Foun­da­tion Dr Gansen Pil­lay praised the young re­searchers for their com­mit­ment to en­gag­ing the pub­lic with their re­search.

He in­vited all of the FameLab fi­nal­ists to a dis­cus­sion with the foun­da­tion on their thoughts about the fu­ture of science in South Africa, and un­der­took to re­ceive their pro­pos­als for fur­ther re­search into each of their dis­ci­plines.

Di­rec­tor of science en­gage­ment agency Jive Me­dia Africa Robert Inglis high­lighted the im­por­tance of the 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 a sci­en­tific topic or con­cept to a panel of ex­pert judges in a time of no more than three min­utes. Talks are judged on con­tent, clar­ity and charisma. The chal­lenge is that talks should be ac­cu­rate and in­for­ma­tive but also en­ter­tain­ing and orig­i­nal, all while en­sur­ing that they are ac­ces­si­ble to pub­lic au­di­ences.

“We must en­sure that all voices are part of the science con­ver­sa­tion, and we are there­fore re­ally thrilled to have so many women among the top 13,” said Anisa Khan of the Bri­tish Coun­cil.

FameLab is an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion and train­ing pro­gramme de­signed to in­spire, mo­ti­vate and de­velop young sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers to ac­tively en­gage with the pub­lic. With over 30 par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries world­wide, it has been dubbed the “Pop Idols of Science”. The South African win­ner will go on to com­pete against their peers on an in­ter­na­tional stage at The Times Chel­tenham Science Fes­ti­val in the UK in June.

FameLab in South Africa is made pos­si­ble by a part­ner­ship be­tween the Bri­tish Coun­cil, the South African Agency for Science and Tech­nol­ogy Ad­vance­ment and re­search com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ists Jive Me­dia Africa.

About SAASTA:

The South Africa Agency for Science and Tech­nol­ogy Ad­vance­ment (SAASTA) is a busi­ness unit of the Na­tional Re­search Foun­da­tion (NRF) with the man­date to ad­vance pub­lic awareness, ap­pre­ci­a­tion and en­gage­ment of science, engi­neer­ing, in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy in South Africa.

About the Bri­tish Coun­cil:

The Bri­tish Coun­cil is the UK’s in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion for ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and cul­tural re­la­tions. We cre­ate in­ter­na­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple of the UK and other coun­tries and build trust be­tween them world­wide.

About Jive Me­dia Africa:

Jive Me­dia Africa sup­ports top re­searchers with in­no­va­tive, cut­ting edge com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Win­ners of the Na­tional Science and Tech­nol­ogy Fo­rum Award for Science Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, they brought the FameLab com­pe­ti­tion to South Africa in 2013.

Dr Jabu Nuk­eri, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the South African Agency for Science and Tech­nol­ogy Ad­vance­ment (SAASTA) presents prizes to win­ner, Em­mie Chiyindiko from the Univer­sity of the Free State, and run­ners-up Se­ba­batso Maifadi from the Univer­sity of South Africa and Buhle Buyana from the Univer­sity of Fort Hare Photo: Sup­plied

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