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Swansea University Researcher Wins Famelab Wales 2018


Laura O’Dea, a PhD student from Swansea University’s College of Engineering (Centre for Nanohealth) has won the FameLab 2018 Wales regional final.

On 28 February Swansea’s Public Engagement Forum hosted the Welsh regional final of FameLab in partnership with Oriel Science Café at the National Waterfront Museum. Six Swansea University postgraduates competed for the Welsh regional crown, and with a range of talented and engaging entrants, the judges‒Professor Matt Jones, Head of College of Science at Swansea University; Dr Ruth Callaway, SEACAMS Research Officer at Swansea University; and Huw James, science presenter, adventurer and photographer/film maker, had a tough time selecting their winner.

Held around the world, FameLab invites those studying or working in the STEM field‒science, technology, engineering and mathematics‒to convey a topic of their choice in just three minutes. Established in 2005 by the Cheltenham Science Festival in conjunction with NESTA, the competition has been responsible for shining the light on some of the world’s best science communicators.

In her highly-original presentation, Laura lit up the stage as she showed how lasers can be used as tweezers, trapping atoms and paving the way for Quantum Computers.

Laura is currently studying for a PhD in Nanotechnology, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through its Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Her work with the Complex Fluids Research Group in the College of Engineering, involves exploiting recent advances in nanotechnology, microfluidics and micro-rheology to develop biomarkers for blood coagulation which may act as indicator of someone’s susceptibility to thromboembolic diseases, such as stroke.

Laura will now go on to represent Wales in the FameLab UK final which will take place at London’s Science Museum on 25 April. Here, Laura will be judged by leading researchers, media personalities and science policy-makers on the content, clarity and charisma of her presentation.  The champion of the UK final will then compete against contestants from around the world at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2018 for the title of overall winner of FameLab 2018.

Speaking about her success at the Welsh heat, Laura O’Dea, said:

“FameLab has presented a really amazing opportunity to discuss my own research and other scientific ideas in an accessible and entertaining way for the public. It has helped me improve my own communication skills for sure, but has also reminded me of the awe-inspiring aspects of science and engineering that made me choose it as a career in the first place.”

“I have to give huge credit where its due to my research group, my supervisors, Dr. Dan Curtis, Professor Rhodri Williams, and Professor Owen Guy, as well as Swansea University’s Public Engagement Forum, and Oriel Science. Their support has been invaluable throughout. I can’t wait to represent Swansea University in the final, I hope I make everyone proud.”

Good luck for the next round Laura!