FameLab is a science communication competition in which scientists, mathematicians and engineers have three minutes to convey a scientific concept of their choice. The next international grand final takes place at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2017.
Yesterday Heriot-Watt University hosted the Edinburgh FameLab heat to select four presenters to put forward to the Scottish final at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday 7th January 2017. I was delighted to be invited to serve on the judging panel this afternoon alongside four fellow judges:
- Stephen Darling, Queen Margaret University
- Stuart Dunbar, University of Edinburgh
- Bill MacPherson, Heriot-Watt University
- Alaina Macri, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
Alan Gow (Heriot-Watt University) took charge of the afternoon’s proceedings by chairing the series of three minute presentations. These covered a very wide range of topics including robotics and artificial intelligence, the lifespan of cancer cells, product packaging, functions of the liver, behavioural contagions, drones, lasers, distilling, blockchain, properties of gold, and fecal transplants. It was obvious that the participants had devoted much effort to fine-tuning their performances, all of which contributed to a very entertaining and thought-provoking afternoon.
At the conclusion of the presentations we judges were sent away to deliberate over the selection of the four FameLab heat winners. Meanwhile the participants were challenged with a quiz in the auditorium. Our choices made, we returned to announce the names of the four finalists who will complete in the Scottish final next month. They are Research Fellow Mhairi Aitken; PhD students Yana Aleksandrova and Callam Davidson: and NHS Biomedical Scientist Tracey Joiffe.
Thanks are due to the Heriot Watt public engagement team members who put together such an excellent afternoon of scientific entertainment – especially Laura Wicks, Kat Przybycien and Pat Hymers – and to trainer Iain Davidson who worked with the presenters to ensure the high standard of their performances on the day. Many were also appreciative of the rather beautiful mince pies that were served in the afternoon break, so bravo to the Heriot Watt catering staff too!