FameLab 2018 winner Vanessa Pirotta

History of FameLab

FameLab started at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in 2005, and since then it has grown into one of the world’s leading science communication competitions. The aim of the competition is to find, develop and mentor young science and engineering communicators. The result is a celebrated alumni of young scientists and engineers able to get everyone ‘talking science’ in the media-intensive environment in which we live.

In 2007, a partnership established with the British Council saw the competition go global, with more than 5000 young scientists and engineers participating in over 31 different countrie with new countries taking part each year. Cheltenham Festivals and the British Council co-produce the FameLab International Final, which is held at the Cheltenham Science Festival every year in June.

FameLab in Australia

The competition began in Australia in 2014 and has attracted a diverse and vibrant range of early-career researchers. FameLab has gone from strength to strength in Australia, with 170 researchers taking part in the competition to date.

In 2019, FameLab is being produced by the Foundation for the WA Museum.

Why is science communication important?

Science is part of almost every aspect of our lives. Although we rarely think about it, science makes extraordinary things possible. It tells us about the past, helps us with the present, and creates ways to improve our future.

Communicating science accessibly and attractively to a non-scientific audience is an ever-growing priority for researchers worldwide. By doing so they not merely change the common stereotype of the scientist as 'the geek in the white lab coat busy doing strange things', but also justify public funding for their research.

What does the UK have to offer?

The UK is the world leader in the area of science communication – there are academic programmes in the field and a number of annual, exciting science festivals. Science Communication is a recognised profession and the UK’s experience in science communication has changed the way the media report on scientific topics.

One of the biggest prizes for all FameLab finalists is the opportunity to attend a science communication masterclass lead by the best UK trainers in this area.

What happens at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival?

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK is a six-day celebration of science, engineering and the arts and is produced by Cheltenham Festivals. It is a rare opportunity for the public to come face-to-face with around 300 of the world's leading scientists and thinkers. The festival promises a mix of serious debate, live experiments and surprising discoveries.

FameLab has been a pivotal part of the Cheltenham Science Festival since its inception. Every year breaks yet another record with numerous scientists from around the globe heading to Cheltenham for the FameLab International Final. Finalists from across the world compete to see who is the most exciting, accessible and charismatic science communicator.


Which countries compete in the International competition?

FameLab International 2018 featured contestants from 31 different countries: Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Kazakhstan, Latvia/Estonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, UK, and Vietnam.