Rebecca Ellis, a PhD student at Swansea University has been declared this year’s UK Champion of FameLab – the world’s foremost science communication competition.
In the annual competition, scientists from across the UK compete to entertain and engage an audience about a scientific topic in only three minutes. This year the event took place live online as part of Cheltenham Science Festival @ Home.
Rebecca, who is autistic and researches care pathways for children with the condition for her PhD, scooped the FameLab prize after delivering a powerful and engaging presentation about autism in the form of a poem. As well as winning the overall prize of £2,000, Rebecca also won the audience prize worth £1,000 which was voted for by viewers via an online poll. The 28-year-old plans on spend the prize money on audio and video equipment that will help her to continue to share her poetry, and towards attending future conferences. Rebecca will go on to represent the UK against scientists from 24 other countries in the FameLab International Final in the autumn. Annie Howitt from the University of Cambridge was the runner up who also won £1,000.
Head of Programming for Cheltenham Science Festival, Marieke Navin said: “The standard of presentation was very high and the competition was intense. Rebecca stood out for us because she created a powerful emotional response in the judges with her passionate and hard-hitting talk on autism. It was a very hard-fought contest and we congratulate Rebecca for winning not only the FameLab UK title but the audience vote.”
As an autistic individual myself, the idea that my research could help improve the lives of other autistic individuals and their families is exciting and worthy of sharing.
“I always learned best when my teachers were passionate and explained topics in a clear, informative and creative way. I wanted to emulate that and combine both the creative and the scientific parts of my personality by performing my presentation in the form of a poem. I felt so proud to be representing Wales alongside Dr Elizabeth Evans at the FameLab UK final. The entire Famelab team and my fellow competitors have been wonderful to work with and hearing comments from the audience and knowing I connected with people through my work has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I’m so excited that it’s not over yet, roll on internationals!”
BBC Radio 4’s Greg Foot presented the final which took place on 3 June, and the nine finalists were judged by TV presenter Dallas Campbell, cyber-security expert Jessica Barker, and Cheltenham Science Festival’s Head of Programming Marieke Navin.