Swansea University student Rebecca Ellis has been declared this year’s UK champion of FameLab - the world’s foremost science communication competition.
In the annual competition, scientists from across the UK compete to entertain and engage an audience about a scientific topic in only three minutes.
Rebecca who is autistic, and researches care pathways for children with the condition for her PhD, scooped the FameLab prize after delivering a powerful and engaging presentation about autism in the form of a poem. As well as winning the overall prize of £2,000, Rebecca also won the audience prize worth £1,000 which was voted for by viewers via an online poll. The 28-year-old plans on spend the prize money on audio and video equipment that will help her to continue to share her poetry, and towards attending future conferences.
Rebecca, who is originally from Halifax, will now go on to compete against scientists from 24 other countries in the FameLab International Final, which will take place at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October.
BBC Radio 4’s Greg Foot presented the final which took place online on 3 June, and the nine finalists were judged by TV presenter Dallas Campbell, cyber-security expert Dr Jessica Barker, and Cheltenham Science Festival’s Head of Programming Dr Marieke Navin.
Rebecca said: “As an autistic individual myself, the idea that my research could help improve the lives of other autistic individuals and their families is exciting and worthy of sharing. I always learned best when my teachers were passionate and explained topics in a clear, informative and creative way. I wanted to emulate that and combine both the creative and the scientific parts of my personality by performing my presentation in the form of a poem.
“I felt so proud to be representing Wales alongside Dr Elizabeth Evans from Swansea University at the final. The entire FameLab team and my fellow competitors have been wonderful to work with and hearing comments from the audience and knowing I connected with people through my work has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I'm so excited that it's not over yet, roll on internationals!”
FameLab was set up in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals to find and nurture scientists and engineers with a flair for communicating with public audiences. Since then it has gone from strength to strength alongside a global partnership with The British Council. Competitions are now held in more than 25 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.