Social spider research wins WA FameLab heat

Monday 13 April 2015

Dr Amber Beavis wins FameLab Western Australian heat    

 

Scientist and arachnologist, Dr Amber Beavis won the Western Australian Heat of FameLab with her short, sharp and fascinating presentation on the world's only social huntsman spider: Delena cancerides.

AMBER engaged the judges and an audience of nearly 200, with her research which revealed that  these arthropods display social behaviours unique to huntsman spiders, and recognise their own kin. They are also tolerant of any small juvenile spider beneath a certain size, regardless of whether it is kin or non-kin.

She says spiders display sophisticated social behaviours, in a way that the public isn't used to hearing about. ”This gives me - an arachnologist - a way to break down negative stereotypes about spiders and other invertebrate species."

FameLab is the British Council’s science competition which attract contestants from more than 30 countries. It helps researchers and science teachers develop skills in performance, communications and persuasion and provides an international platform for science storytelling. Contestants have three minutes to entertain and inform an audience by explaining their work, without  jargon and without PowerPoint.

The Western Australian FameLab heat, held at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle on Thursday night, saw presentations on a wide range of research from atomic clocks to how to convince humans to change behaviour and switch to a healthy fish- rich diet. British Council Deputy Director Kirsten Freeman said the judges were impressed with the passion and commitment to communicating even the most technical and specialised knowledge to the audience.

“Dr Beavis will go on to present her research at the National finals along with runner up David Gozzard. If Dr. Beavis wins the national finals, also to be held at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, she will be off to the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK where she will compete for the international title,” Ms Freeman said.

Science communicator Sarah Lau was the MC for the heat, which attracted nearly 200 people. On the judging panel was former WA Chief Scientist, Lyn Beazley, 2014 Western Australian scientist of the year, Professor Ian Small and Kirsten Freeman.

Physicist David Gozzard was awarded WA FameLab heat runner with his research on atomic clocks and Sarah Marley was Audience Choice winner with her research into coastal noise and its impact on dolphins.

 

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