Who was crowned champion at FameLab International 2018?

15 Jun 2018

Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah after being crowned as the winner of FameLab International 2018. Image: FameLab

Ireland’s hopes of achieving glory at FameLab International were pinned on Dublin-based Sharon Omiwole, but Malaysia secured victory on the night.

If you are a researcher and you had to describe what you were studying in just three minutes in an entertaining way, how would you do it?

That was the challenge set to scientists of 27 different countries taking part in FameLab International, the culmination of a number of national heats across the globe.

Held at the Cheltenham Science Festival last week, the competition entered its 13th year with entrants from Malta, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Poland, Greece, South Africa, Egypt, Italy, Ireland, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Portugal, the UK, the Netherlands, South Korea, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Brazil, Spain, Romania, Cyprus, France and Australia.

While the international event is managed by the British Council, FameLab Ireland is funded by Science Foundation Ireland in collaboration with British Council Ireland and Henkel Ireland.

So, after much deliberation from the judges, the winner was announced as 33-year-old Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah (Kye), a biological science lecturer from Malaysia.

In front of a live audience, she focused her talk on tuberculosis control, convincing the judges through her calm and engaging presence on stage, her fine storytelling skills, and her clarity of content.

In doing so, she becomes the second international champion of FameLab from Malaysia.

Ireland’s entry misses out

Speaking of Kye’s success, the director of education for Cheltenham Festivals, Ali Mawle, said: “FameLab unites the world through a passion for science and for sharing it with the public.

“Kye embodied the three C’s: content, clarity and charisma. She and the other finalists demonstrated how much FameLab has raised the bar for science communication since it began in 2005.”

Those in Ireland were hopeful for the success of Dublin-based Sharon Omiwole, a medical student from University College Dublin who in April impressed a panel of nine judges with her engaging talk entitled ‘Willy Wonka and the Coffee Factory’.

Her project detailed the effects of caffeine and its associated hormones and chemicals (adrenaline and dopamine) and received praise from audience members, but sadly did not win the grand prize.

A special audience prize was announced, going to Mihnea-Ioan Nicolescu from Romania, a trained surgeon and medical teacher.

You can view all of the presentations that took place on the night here.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic