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.