2014 FameLab heat: CERN welcomes 11 new stars of science communication!

The 2014 Swiss heat of the popular FameLab competition took place Thursday, 27 March at CERN. 11 young researchers from CERN, the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel, and the EPFL competed for the sought-after title of FameLab finalist. The winner and the four runners-up will participate in the Masterclass and the Swiss final, and just one will go on to represent Switzerland at the international Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK. Some of the participants share their feedback with us.


The FameLab 2014 contestants after their talks, at the Globe of Science and Innovation on 27 March.

Miquel Oliu Barton (Swiss finalist): Amazed by the other contestants' performances, I almost forgot the stage fright! But then I was given the hands-free microphone and knew the time had come to talk about my research to a large audience and to the cameras.... Both with fear and excitement, I played that three-minute game and, though it felt really short, I enjoyed it very much. The best part came afterwards, when I met the other contestants and the organisers, to whom I am truly grateful!

Philippe Kobel (CERN heat winner and Swiss finalist): The awesome surprise was the beautiful composition inspired by the Voyager spacecraft: space not only sends us beautiful images, but beautiful sounds as well! Who said it was silent?! I was also sooo honoured to have my prize announced by Claude Nicollier and to shake his hand! For me, who always dreamed of becoming an astronaut, who flew seven times in microgravity on board parabolic flights, Claude has been always a great source of inspiration and I have read his biography (Espace Nicollier) many times! So that was another prize, a priceless one. Many thanks for this wonderful day!

Daniel Gallichan (Swiss finalist): The biggest surprise for me was that the toilets at the Globe are such a long way away! This is not ideal when needing to participate in a somewhat nerve-wracking presentation! I had a great day out, and am really looking forward to the Masterclass and the chance to compete again in Zurich  - thanks again!

Jennifer Fowlie (Swiss finalist): I was very impressed by how well taken care of we were and how well organised the day was. I was most surprised by how good the competitors were.  After the rehearsal sessions I was thinking that I didn’t have a chance!  I think that this means good things for the future of science communication. Thank you again for a fantastic day!

Gianluca Valentino: I enjoyed the fact that it wasn't only a competition, and there were also plenty of opportunities to network with other young researchers and to get valuable feedback on our public speaking and science communication skills. I look forward to participating in next year's edition!

Giovanni Porcellana: I found the opportunity to meet and stay in touch with so many other scientists with a strong will to explain and communicate their passions and achievements to others incredible and amazing. I see in that the bright future of science, not detached from the rest of the world, but fully integrated with people in every day life.

Vibhuti Chhabra (Swiss finalist): I expected the majority of participants to be from CERN or maybe be Swiss, so the biggest surprise for me was that we were all from different countries, we all had different research backgrounds, but still I sensed that we were all really passionate about one thing, i.e. explaining to others what we had learnt and what we were working on at present. I didn't know anyone before coming to the event and yet I really felt very comfortable with them all.

Christopher Hemmens: I think the biggest surprise for me was the consistently high-quality talks from all the participants. That and how far away lunch was from Reception. Had I known, I would have worn my hiking boots.

Samira Asgari: What I liked particularly about FameLab was that it did not feel like a competition at all. Everybody was really friendly and there was a vibe of excitement and motivation in the air. Furthermore I learned new things during the day and from the speeches.

Andrii Rogov: I am really impressed with the level of organisation: a guided visit to the ATLAS detector, a short yet informative training before the competition and the small dinner afterwards. On top it was a real pleasure to meet people who are in love with science and who are willing to share their knowledge and passion. The biggest surprise for me was the special gift from the organizer - live music from Domenico Vicinanza. It is the first time I've heard about this music project and I believe Famelab organisers did a great job putting it into the event.