Congratulations to Lucy Thorne, of Imperial College London, last night crowned London’s official representative in the FameLab final! PhD student and virologist Lucy came through yesterday’s second heats with a presentation on Norovirus and completed her victory by taking the final with three minutes on how viruses mutate.
For newcomers, FameLab works like this: six regions hold heats. Each heat results in one winner and up to two wildcards. Winners go to the national final at the Royal Institution in March 2012 with the wildcards going into a pool from which judges will pick the remaining finalists in January. London being such a large region held four heats, two last week, two this week, so yesterday at Kings College London was a mammoth day of science communication with two heats followed by a grand final.
Held on the Guys Campus at London Bridge, the event was hosted by Dr Mark Miodownik,. member of the Engineering and Physics departments at Kings and last year’s RI Christmas Lecturer, who made a valiant effort towards a pun on every contestant’s topic as he handed them over to the judges. Contestants included PhD students, post docs and even included a science teacher doing a rather impressive demo involving smashing ice with a hammer to demonstrate its relative fragility before you add sawdust. Presentations went from the winning mutating viruses to the moons of Saturn (Enceladus, the sixth largest, was the moon of choice) via the classic Doppler shift-slinky demonstration applied to climate science.
To summarise them all would be impossible, and the videos are expected to be published in the near future, but suffice to say the standard was generally very high and an impressive panel of judges – King’s Vice Principal for Research and Innovation, Chris Mottershead; Director of Public Engagement at King’s, Chris Coe; Vice Dean of Academic Psychiatry, Professor Simon Wessely, science teacher Dr Simon Foster and writer, comedian and trainer in science communication Timandra Harkness – took their time choosing winners in all the competition.
Lucy will now join contestants from across the UK at a weekend MasterClass with Professor of Science and Society and Science communication, Kathy Sykes, and experienced trainer, specialising in media & communication skills, Malcolm Love, where she may be joined by one or both of London’s wildcards and previous Nature Network London interviewees, Ned Yoxall whose chosen subject was quantum mechanics and Harry Cliff who spoke on the Large Hadron Collider.