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Science students take the virtual stage for FameLab

3 April 2020
Talented scientists tell their stories in three minutes or less
Five Sydney science research students have made the NSW FameLab semi-finals, a science communication competition.
Microphone sitting in front of laptop computer

In 2020, FameLab goes live online for the first time.

FameLab seeks to discover charismatic early career scientists who can put their science communication skills to the test by explaining a scientific concept to a general audience in just three minutes.

Five University of Sydney science research students from our School of Chemistry, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and School of Psychology are up for the challenge and have made the NSW semi-finals based on their video submissions.

In response to the impact of COVID-19, they will participate in the first ever online FameLab semi-finals alongside 10 other finalists on Wednesday 8 April.

You can tune in to watch their presentations and vote for the People’s Choice award from 2pm on Thursday 9 April. Online voting will be open for 72 hours.

State semi-final winners will go on to the National Final on Wednesday 29 April, where they will compete for a spot in the FameLab International Final which will be held later this year.

Meet our finalists

Genevieve Sergeant

Genevieve Sergeant

PhD candidate
Jolliffe Research Group
School of Chemistry

Why did you want to enter FameLab?
Famelab is a great opportunity for me to get out of the lab and start talking to people about Science.

What are you researching?
My research is about making tools for biologists to see what is going inside our cells. At Famelab 2020 I’ll be explaining the techniques we use to do this!

Why is science communication important to you?
If we, as scientists, can’t communicate our research it means we can’t work together to solve the challenges we face as a society

Claire Flitcroft

Claire Flitcroft

PhD candidate
Jolliffe Research Group and McErlean Research Group
School of Chemistry

What does being a FameLab finalist mean to you?
I’m thrilled to represent the University of Sydney at the FameLab finals this year. I would love to see more female scientists in the coming years, and I hope that I will become a role model for the next generation of scientists.

What are you researching?
My PhD research involves creating a method to selectively modify peptides using visible light. This is a new way to rapidly synthesise many analogues of potential drug candidates.

Why is science communication important to you?
Being able to explain our research clearly and concisely is a challenging but important skill that I think all researchers should develop. Effective communication is a great way to make science more accessible to the general public and get people more interested in the plethora of amazing research being undertaken right now!

Nisha Duggan

Nisha Duggan

PhD candidate
Payne Research Group
School of Chemistry

Why did you want to enter FameLab?
I entered FameLab this year because I wanted the opportunity to share some of my research with the public.

What are you researching?
I work in the field of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, developing new therapies for stroke. My current project involves the synthesis of a component of funnel web spider venom which could potentially become a treatment for stroke.

Why is science communication important to you?
I truly believe that science is cool and interesting and that all people should have the opportunity to understand good science. On a more serious level, effective science communication will be vital to help us solve the challenging issues facing our modern world.

Michelle Demers

Michelle Demers

PhD candidate
Plant Breeding Institute
School of Life and Environmental Sciences

FameLab talk: Know your enemy
Waging a war on crop infection! Researching the DNA of cereal stem rust disease to discover how it infects our crops, and what we can do to stop it.

Dr Madeleine Ferrari

Dr Madeleine Ferrari

PhD candidate
School of Psychology 

FameLab talk: Self-compassion and adolescence
Self-compassion 101, how teaching self-compassion to young people can prevent future mental health disorders.


FameLab 2020 is produced in Australia by the Foundation for the WA Museum with international partner the British Council.

Keep an eye out on our Faculty of Science social media accounts to find out how our student finalists faired and use #FameLabAus to join the conversation.

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