New generation of science communicators compete in Swansea this week

What are black holes, event horizons and holograms? There will be the opportunity to learn about these and much more at a competition find the next generation of science communicators in Swansea this week – but there is still time for last minute entries.

FameLab Flyer

Swansea University FameLab UK in partnership with Swansea Public Engagement Forum - PEP Talk, and Swansea Science Cafe, will be holding a local heat of FameLab the UK’s biggest competition to discover new talent to engage the public in Science and Engineering at the Dylan Thomas Centre at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 28th January 2015.

Contestants will have just three minutes to pitch a concept in science, technology, engineering or maths to the panel of judges, who will assess the finalists’ presentations on three qualities: content, clarity and charisma.

The panel of judges will include, adventurer, astronomer, and presenter Huw James, Peter Barnes section manager of the analytical Labs at Tata Steel Strip UK in Port Talbot and Jacqui Bowen head of public relations at Swansea University.

The competition is open to anyone aged over 21 and is currently working in science, technology, engineering, or maths who can explain a science or engineering concept in an engaging way to non-scientists.

The winner of the Swansea heat will battle for a place in the Regional Finals at Techniquest, After Hours event in Cardiff on Thursday 26th February 2015.

The winner of this round will get the chance to take part in a weekend Masterclass led by experts in media & communication skills, before vying for the title of FameLab UK champion at the National Final 22 April 2015 at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.

The lucky FameLab UK winner will then have the chance to take home £1,750 to further their career. The winner will also go on to participate in the International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival on 2-7 June 2015.

Event organiser, Sharon Bishop of Swansea University said: “It is vitally important for the next generation of scientists to not only address great scientific challenges, but to communicate what they do to the broader non-scientific community. We hope to attract scientists, engineers and mathematicians from a range of backgrounds to compete and hope that through FameLab Swansea we will find the great scientific communicators of the future, here in Swansea.’

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More on the judges

Peter Barnes

Peter is the section manager of the analytical Labs at Tata Steel Strip UK in Port Talbot. Tata employ about 5000 people and produce approximately 4.5 million tonnes a year of steel in South Wales. The products end up in a wide variety of products including automotive, 'yellow goods' (JCB etc.), domestic white goods, pipelines, bridges, motorway barriers, construction plate, low energy building systems, wind turbines, food packaging, military armour plate - and much more besides. Peter is responsible for the Labs where every stage of production is tested from iron ore and coal coming in at one end through to tensile testing of finished steel at dispatch. Tata also have an SEM suite for looking at steel microstructure - this supports both new product development and also investigation of customer issues.

Peter is a chemist by background, graduating from Oxford in 1997, before gaining a PhD in Birmingham in 2001 (Gas phase kinetics & molecular reaction dynamics). Peter has worked at Birmingham and Warwick universities for a period as a lecturer in physical chemistry. Then in 2007 he moved to South Wales for a career change in manufacturing industry. In his spare time he enjoys freediving and is a director of a youth circus company on a voluntary basis.

Huw James

Adventurer, astronomer and outdoors enthusiast, Huw James is a presenter and active campaigner for public participation in science and the outdoors. He has brought his brand of energy and enthusiasm to hundreds of stage and screen appearances and can be seen performing at many of the science festivals and events across the UK.  Originally trained in space science and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Huw is an active rock climber, surfer, sportsman and all-round adventurer. He combines these interests together to create his unique approach to enthusing all ages about the science of the universe and the natural world. 

Huw holds a Gold Medal in public speaking from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.


Jacqui Bowen

Jacqui Bowen started her career as a newspaper journalist before moving into public relations. She has worked for both Cardiff and Newport city councils, was media relations manager for the National Assembly for a number of years, and later worked in the Welsh Government press office, where she was press officer to the Finance Minister and also responsible for setting up WG’s online newsroom. She is currently head of PR at Swansea University.