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Setting the stage for scientific brilliance. For Good

- Wits University

Wits Chemistry student Taskeen Hasrod set to represent South Africa on the global stage at the FameLab science communication competition.

Taskeen, FameLab Winner from Wits 600x300

In an impressive display of scientific communication prowess, Taskeen Hasrod, an AI researcher and Masters student in Chemistry at Wits,  clinched the FameLab South Africa title after coming out on top in the Wits-leg competition in May.

This event marked the 11th season of FameLab in South Africa, an international competition dedicated to recognising and supporting science communication talent.

Her research in environmental analytical chemistry, focusing on extracting valuable by-products from acid mine drainage using machine learning, catapulted her to the forefront of the competition.

The FameLab South Africa Final, held on September 21, 2023, at the National Research Foundation (NRF) auditorium in Pretoria, featured ten exceptional young scientists.

These finalists, drawn from leading academic and research institutions across the country, presented their research in an engaging and accessible manner, making it comprehensible to non-experts.

Taskeen's remarkable achievement now paves the way for her to represent South Africa in Cheltenham in the UK on November 24, 2023.

Acid mine drainage, a global environmental concern, is a major issue in South Africa. Yet, Hasrod's research has illuminated a potential solution by harnessing artificial intelligence to predict the levels of valuable by-products within this troublesome wastewater.

Her victory in the competition was attributed to her remarkable storytelling skills and her unwavering commitment to utilising artificial intelligence for a more sustainable future. Her work, aimed at establishing a circular economy by extracting valuable by-products from acid mine drainage, promises to revolutionise traditional approaches, which are often time-consuming and expensive.

Taskeen, FameLab Winner from Wits 600x300

"It’s a big win, not just for me, but for my supervisor, my research group, my school, my university, it means a lot and it shows that when we put our minds to something and we work hard we can achieve it.,” said Hasrod

The chemistry student also paid tribute to her fellow finalists, stating that they had become like a family during the competition. She expressed her eagerness to represent South Africa and the African continent on the global stage.

In her pursuit of scientific excellence, Hasrod emphasised the importance of discipline, resilience, and patience. She also underscored the significance of communicating research in a manner devoid of scientific jargon, making it accessible to the general public.

"That’s incredibly important because the general public deserves to be able to understand our research and learn why it is important," Taskeen stated.

Her victory shines a spotlight on the transformative potential of scientific communication and the innovative solutions emerging from South Africa's academic and research community. Her journey to the international stage is sure to inspire future scientists and science communicators to bridge the gap between research and the broader public.

For those eager to watch Taskeen Hasrod compete on the international stage, the final competition will be streamed live on YouTube on November 24, 2023, at noon (SAST).