Sunday 13 March 2016

The FameLab Queensland semi-final was an amazing start to the World Science Festival, Brisbane on Wednesday 9th March - with 11 scientists and an array of imaginative props and presentations holding the full-house audience’s attention from whoa to go at Queensland Museum.

And the Queensland winner is … Natalie McKirdy from Queensland Eye Institute and& University of Queensland. Assisted by a plush toy silkworm, Natalie presented her research into using silk to heal macular degeneration and gained first place in the Queensland FameLab semi-final. Natalie is an engaging and warm presenter whose innovative work may one day restore people’s sight.

Runner-up and ‘People’s Choice’ winner was Barbara Hadley from the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University, who described how sialic acid – a type of sugar – affects cancer cells. Four4 layers of Barbara’s illustrated lolly-adorned clothing were peeled off one by one as the tale progressed, and her infectious humour, natural warmth and enthusiasm made her the audience favourite as well as judges’ selection for runner-up. 

Natalie and Barbara will compete in the national FameLab grand final at the West Australian Museum in May. Grand final winner will present their piece at the huge FameLab International Grand Final at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK in June, competing with scientists from more than 25 countries.

FameLab came to Australia in 2014 and both Grand Finalnational final winners so far have been Queenslanders. If Natalie or Barbara wins in 2016, it will complete a sunshine state trifecta!

FAMELAB is presented by British Council and Cheltenham Festivals | Founding partners: Western Australian Museum and The McCusker Foundation | University partners: Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and University of Western Australia | Venue partners: Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Queensland Museum, Museum Victoria and Western Australian Museum | Queensland presenting partners: World Science Festival, Brisbane and Inspiring Australia. 

Keep up with all of the action by following @auBritish on Twitter and Instagram and join the conversation using #FameLabAus.  For further information, visit  

Notes to Editor

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews with FameLab scientists (and live-to-air 3-minute presentations) contact Frankie Lee:  +61 419 448847

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We promote a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and people worldwide, making a positive contribution to all the countries we work with and, in doing so, making a lasting difference to the UK's security, prosperity and influence.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year.

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