The late Irene Cara might not have been singing about science when she belted out her iconic 1980 hit “Fame,” but the lyrics might have resonance for science communicators who want to reach a higher plane:
“I can catch the moon in my hand
Don’t you know who I am?
Remember my name.”
FameLab, which bills itself as “The largest, public-facing science communication competition and training program in the world” is calling for nominations from potential science communicators to participate in the Australian selection process. Nominations close on April 15.
“FameLab shaped my work as a scientist,” she says.
“FameLab was my platform into the world of science communication while keeping the science at the forefront of my mind.”
This year, applicants will be selected to compete in four regional semi-finals across Australia. Twelve of the semi-finalists will be chosen and will be flown at FameLab’s expense to Perth for the Australian final on 21 September 2023. Our FameLab winner will then represent Australia at the FameLab International Finals in November 2023, in front of a global audience, and will win a trip to the world-famous Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2024.
No ordinary science communication competition.
To start, qualified applicants will attend a science communication training workshop to help them prepare their first presentation – a three-minute video submission. The applicants chosen for the semi-finals will receive additional science communication training provided by subject matter experts. The finalists who are selected from the semi-finals will receive additional training as well as a free, immersive, three-night SciComm experience in Perth in September, where they will compete live on stage for the title of Australian FameLab Winner.
Wayne Lubbe, Project Manager for FameLab, which in Australia is run by the Foundation for the Museum of WA, says it‘s an opportunity showcase science research, and scientists.
“The application process is really simple,” Lubbe says.
“Applicants simply have to provide a brief description of their research and a professional biography. They also need to provide links to verify their research.
“The written application is mostly to verify their credentials and qualifications.”
Participants will then be invited to use their new knowledge to create a three-minute video of themselves to submit to FameLab. This will be judged by the usual FameLab criteria: Content, Clarity and Charisma (The 3 Cs).
The videos can be filmed on a mobile phone in a relaxed setting and the quality of the video will not be judged.
Lubbe says it need not be daunting.
“It can be, especially for those with little experience at public speaking.
“The really important thing to remember with FameLab is that it isn’t just a SciComm competition – participants receive training and support to improve their public speaking skills and will be taught ways to overcome and manage their fear of public speaking.
“So, FameLab isn’t only for those who are already good communicators, it’s also for those who are inexperienced, who have fears, who are unsure – and want to improve.”
Pirotta says during her studies she didn’t see science communication as something that was important, but Famelab turned that around.
“It provided me with the tools to channel my work to my audience.”
Lubbe agrees it is a global competition with all the elements that go with that, incuding some pressure. “Of course, it’s a competition, but a big benefit of participating is networking and meeting fellow scientists. Many leave the competition friends, and stay in touch for years after.”
“Ultimately the winners will be those that explain their research in general terms, suitable to a general public audience, who make it fun to listen to, engaging and show the viewer how important science research is. The judging criteria have been designed to suit those objectives: Winners will be the ones who excel at content, clarity and charisma.”