Congratulations to Tyndall's Luiza Wasiewska and Andrea Pacheco who were winners at the Cork heat of FameLab which was held in Triskel Arts Centre, Cork on Wednesday 27th February.
Held annually in over 30 countries across the globe, FameLab is the world's largest science communication competition. It challenges up and coming scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explain a complex idea in a straightforward and engaging way.
Armed only with their wits and a few props, the top newest voices from the world of science and engineering across the county deliver short three-minute presentations on bizarre and pertinent science concepts. Presentations are judged according to FameLab’s "3 Cs": Content, Clarity and Charisma.
Luiza Wasiewska, explained the difference between “good” and “bad” E. coli and the challenges connected to its detection. E. coli is a group of bacteria which on one hand can be beneficial to us and live in our intestines while on the other hand there are certain types which can cause dangerous infections. Luiza explained that currently we are able to detect pathogenic E. coli which have caused infections in the past while the focus should also be placed on detecting new possible types of the “bad” E. coli. Luiza entertained the audience as she compared different types of the bacteria to the famous villains from the movies including Lord Voldemort and Cat from Shrek.
Andrea Pacheco highlighted the importance of the inner structure of the lungs and explained the problems preterm babies can have due to the condition of their alveoli (tiny air sacs of the lungs which allow for rapid gaseous exchange). Andrea demonstrated that we are “transparent” to red light (by shinning blue, green and red lights in her finger) to introduce the concept of a near infra-red light, and explained how healthy alveoli absorb the light because they are full of oxygen, while unhealthy lungs do not. By measuring this difference in absorption it is possible to assess the condition of lung tissue in a non-invasive way. Andrea used clever props to explain her research including a t-shirt printed with an image of the lungs and a balloon to explain the condition of the alveoli in a preterm baby .
Over 10,000 participants have taken part across the globe so far. Aside from great prizes including an all-expenses paid two-day communication master class, contestants will have the chance to represent Ireland at the FameLab international finals at the Cheltenham Science Festival with representatives from organisations across the globe.
Liz McBain, British Council Ireland, said ‘We have some of the most talented STEM professionals but talent isn’t enough. In this global economy, they also need to learn to communicate their science to local and international audiences - to investors, to partners, to colleagues and even to the wider public. Famelab provides an ideal platform to do this’.