FameLab 2018 winner Vanessa Pirotta

Vanessa Pirotta from Macquarie University wins FameLab national title

Congratulations to Vanessa Pirotta from Macquarie University Marine Predator Research Group, whose brilliant tale of using drones to collect whale snot was declared winner of FameLab Australia 2018 at the Famelab national final event on Thursday 10 May.

Vanessa will now go on to represent Australia at the international FameLab competition at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June, competing against scientists from around 30 countries.

Vanessa's research project investigates use of drones to collect health information from free swimming whales. Collection of whale blow is done via a custom-built drone. Previous health information from whales came from those that stranded, or were deliberately killed. More recent methods involve close boat approaches using a pole. Vanessa’s research is transforming the way scientists collect health information from whales.

“The FameLab journey has helped me develop my science communication skills. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my research to school students and learning from some of the best science communicators such as Malcolm Love and Alan Duffy. Winning the national FameLab final is a true honour. I now have the opportunity to represent Australia on the world stage and talk about whale snot” says Vanessa.

“We are thrilled that Vanessa Pirotta will bring the innovation of Australian marine science to a global stage. British and Australian scientists have always worked closely together, with over 6000 joint papers published, and we are delighted that Vanessa’s work will now have this international exposure. The diversity of talent and exploration in this country is astounding, and we thank all the FameLab finalists for reminding us what a fascinating world we live in,” Helen Salmon, Director British Council in Australia comments.

FameLab 2018 winner: Vanessa Pirotta

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