Postdoc Athira Menon of the UvA Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy won the Dutch final of FameLab on 9 May. FameLab is a pitch competition for young researchers, in which they have only three minutes to explain their research to the general public.
What makes FameLab extra challenging is that the participants are not allowed to use slides. They must captivate the audience with their stage presentation, though they can use props.
Menon impressed the audience and the jury with her pitch about gravitational waves and things that happen after a supernova. In other words, what remains after a star has exploded in such a huge way. She did this so well that she was voted the best candidate by both the jury and the public. Last March she was also one of the two winners of the local final of FameLab here in Amsterdam. The jury then praised her for her clear explanation of a very complex subject and the lively way in which she portrayed the galaxy with only her hands.
As the winner of the Amsterdam final, Menon won a special two-day training in communication and presentation at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). By winning the national final, she won a trip to Cheltenham, England, to compete at the annual Cheltenham Science Festival (June 4-9) against 24 other FameLab winners from around the world.
The international pitch competition FameLab was set up by the Cheltenham Science Festival in collaboration with the British Council. The aim is to teach young scientists how to effectively communicate their work to the general public, and vice versa to make the public enthusiastic about science. All researchers under 40 who are connected to a university can participate.
Would you also like to learn how to communicate your research to the general public - a skill that also comes in handy when you, for example, have to apply for grants and give (public) lectures? Registration for the local FameLab qualifying round starts again in December. We will help you on your way to the final with a storytelling and a theater workshop. For more information about participation in the Amsterdam heat of FameLab, or science communication in general, you can contact Nadine Böke, science communications officer at the UvA Faculty of Science.