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Young Wits scientists shine at FameLab

- Wits University

Three Wits students are in the top 10 of the national FameLab competition.

FameLab is an international science communication competition, which seeks to inspire young scientists to share their research with the public and hone their science communication skills.

This year, six Witsies participated in the national FameLab semi-finals following the Wits leg of the competition, which took place in April. They were among 20 finalists from across the country.

Postgraduate students, Hima Rama, Shivani Ramburrun and Tasvi Daya impressed at the semi-finalists and secured their spots in the finals of the national competition. The trio showed off their science communication skills vying for the 2021 FameLab SA winner title along seven other finalists on 6 October.  The finals will be broadcasted on 20 October at 18:30 where the 2021 SA FameLab winner will be announced.

Wits students, Hima Rama, Shivani Ramburrun and Tasvi Daya, finalists in the FameLab Science Communication competition

Rama, who is studying towards a master’s in Aquatic Ecology says her study interest was inspired by her love for fish as a child. “I have always loved fish, I grew up keeping them. Eventually, I decided to channel this towards a career in conservation.” 

The FameLab experience has been exciting for Rama as she gained invaluable knowledge that will be beneficial to her career.

“FameLab has taught me many skills about making science relatable. I think that this is an important skill to have, specifically in my line of work because in order for my research to become impactful, it needs to be communicated with those outside of the field of science,” says Rama.

For Ramburrun, a Master of Pharmacy in Pharmaceutical Microbiology, it has been an honour to come so far in the competition.

“I feel happy and excited. I am honoured to be a finalist amongst the country's most talented researchers and scientists. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to present my research and represent my country, and I am grateful for the continuous support from my friends, family, supervisors, and the FameLab committee,” she says.

For her research, she is investigating the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, toxicity, and permeation properties of rosehip carrier oil in combination with essential oils for acne treatment. Ramburrun hopes to one day create her own line of individualised cosmetics for ethnic skin, using indigenous Southern African plants.

Daya, a first year PhD student at the Integrative Cancer Biology Research Laboratory in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology at Wits says her interest in cancer research was sparked by her desire to “save millions of lives”.

A passionate scientist, she wants to use her knowledge and skills in the pharmaceutical or medical industry to research, innovate and communicate science as an occupation. Tasvi says she will pursue her science communication interest post the competition.

“I strongly intend on pursuing science communication as I believe in its power to educate and empower others to share their wonderful science journeys while simultaneously inspiring our youth to take a leap into the sciences. I have confidence in my scientific journey, and I look forward to the exciting opportunities it will bring.”

The winner will represent South Africa in the international leg of the competition.