18 June 2018

Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah, or ‘Kye’, a 33-year old Biological Science lecturer from Malaysia, was crowned the 2018 FameLab International Champion at the Cheltenham Science Festival on 7 June 2018. She successfully competed against 27 science communicators from across the world.

Kye represented Malaysia, where she works as a lecturer at University Sains Malaysia. Her winning talk focused on Tuberculosis control and she convinced the judges through her calm engaging presence on stage, her fine story telling skills and her clarity of content. She is the second Malaysian FameLab International Champion after Professor Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam won the title in 2016.

The final was held in front of a live audience of hundreds at the Arena in Cheltenham, United Kingdom. The judges included Vivienne Parry (science writer and broadcaster), Clifford Johnson (Professor in Physics and Astronomy, author and science communicator) and Farrah Nazir (Acting Creative and Partnerships Lead, Wellcome Trust).

Kye said afterwards: “When I get on the stage and I am about to speak and have dropped all of that anxiety and nerves and just commit to that moment, it is really quite magical. Being able to have that connection with the audience is great. I had the opportunity thanks to FameLab."

International final judge Vivienne Parry said: “People think that being a good science communicator is about being extrovert. But actually what Kye showed us was that quiet authority and stunning clarity of content is the thing that really communicates best to a very wide audience.” 

Ali Mawle, Director of Education for Cheltenham Festivals said: “FameLab united the world last night through a passion for science and for sharing it with the public. Kye embodied the 3 C’s – content, clarity and charisma; she and the other finalists demonstrated how much FameLab has raised the bar for science communication since it began in 2015. “

This year’s finals featured contestants from 27 different countries: Malta, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Poland, Greece, South Africa, Egypt, Italy, Ireland, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Portugal, UK, Netherlands, Korea, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Brazil, Spain, Romania, Cyprus, France, and Australia.

In Malaysia, FameLab is co-organised by the British Council and The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). The Malaysia National Final was recently held on 3 May 2018 with 10 finalists in front of an audience of 400 people. 

Sarah Deverall, Director British Council in Malaysia said: “Sincere congratulations to Kye, our first female national representative from Malaysia and 2018 FameLab International Champion. This is a great success for Malaysia, and one that follows in the footsteps of Dr Abhi two years ago. Her win raises the profile of science communication in Malaysia and particularly the importance of doing so in the English language on the world stage.”

This year the British Council celebrates 70 years in Malaysia, while MIGHT celebrates its 25th year. Malaysia’s win in FameLab International 2018 marks a memorable milestone for the partnership between the British Council and MIGHT. 

Since its birth at the Festival in 2005, FameLab has grown into the world’s leading science communication competition. A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 10,000 young scientists and engineers participating to date.


Notes to Editor

The video of Kye’s winning talk is available on the FameLab YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMBfeevRIyw  

About the British Council


FameLab was founded in 2005 by Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom and has since grown into a global competition in partnership with the British Council. It was brought to Malaysia in 2015 by the British Council in collaboration with MIGHT through MIGHT Academy Platform with the objective of addressing the communication gap between scientists and the public. The participants will engage and entertain audiences in a three-minute presentation on their chosen STEM concept. Communicating science in an attractive and comprehensible manner to non-scientific audience promotes science education and inspires future generations of scientists whilst increasing public understanding of complex scientific information concerning their daily lives. 

In 2016, Malaysia National Champion, Dr. Abhi Veerakumasivam went on to become FameLab International Champion defeating national winners from more than 25 different countries. He was the first FameLab International Champion for Malaysia and also for Asia region.  

Globally, FameLab is a successful model in identifying, training and mentoring young scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for the subjects with the public. As one of the biggest science communications competitions in the world, FameLab reached out to more than 5500 scientists and engineers from more than 30 different countries who have competed in FameLab worldwide since 2007 and earned around 22 million media views each year. It is truly an international event where scientists and engineers from around the world meet, network and engage international audiences whilst broadening their views of what it means to be working in science today.