Behind the scenes at FameLab, the international competition for young scientists

FameLab is an international science communication competition for young researchers and science teachers aged 18 to 35. At CERN, preparations are under way to recruit participants, advertise the event to the public and organise the regional semi-finals for Suisse Romande, which will take place on Saturday, 4 February 2012 in the Globe of Science and Innovation. The Bulletin looks ahead to the forthcoming event…


As you might have read in the 5 December 2011 issue of the Bulletin, Switzerland is one of the 20 countries participating in the FameLab 2012 competition, and the regional finals for French-speaking Switzerland will take place at CERN in the Globe of Science and Innovation on Saturday, 4 February 2012.

“At the moment we’re still recruiting participants through various channels (registration is open till 31 January) and organising the one-day programme of events in the Globe,” says project coordinator Paola Catapano of the CERN Communication Group. “The morning will be devoted to registering and auditioning participants for the afternoon's national semi-finals.

Before each audition, participants will be assigned to the “Blitz Trainers”, professionals in communication techniques and science communication, to rehearse their three-minute presentations and get some last-minute tips. Training and feedback on communication skills are an important part of the FameLab process, from the regional to the international finals.”

Particularly valuable will be tips from the “compères”, young physicists Tom Whyntie (from Imperial College London and CMS, and winner of the 2009 UK FameLab competition) and Venelin Kozhuharov (from CMS, and winner of the 2008 Bulgaria FameLab competition). Whyntie is eager to encourage young scientists in Switzerland to take part in FameLab: “The media training I received has been incredibly useful for television and radio appearances (and there have been quite a few with all of the Higgs hype!), but the best thing about FameLab is the people you meet. By taking part in FameLab Switzerland, you will meet great, like-minded people from CERN and elsewhere who love to talk about science.”

“We didn't see it very much as a competition,” says Venelin, speaking of the year he won FameLab, “but mainly as a way to share what we were doing. The year I took part, most of the participants talked about their own scientific research. Along with making new friendships, we were able to learn new things from the other participants.”

The three-minute presentations will be judged according to three main criteria (content, charisma and clarity) by a panel including CERN theoretical physicist, John Ellis; astronomer and head of communication at Geneva University, Didier Raboud; and science editor at the Tribune de Genève, Anne-Muriel Brouet.

To participate, fill out and submit the registration form by the 31 January deadline on (Click on Participate/Registration.)


FameLab talks must be scientifically accurate but also engaging to non-scientists. As such, audience reaction is a crucial element in impressing the jury. Come to the auditions in the morning and the regional finals at 3.00 p.m. to help 21st century science find its new talent!

Click here for more information about the Famelab Globe event.

The FameLab event in the Globe of Science and Innovation is jointly organised by CERN, the University of Geneva and EPFL Lausanne, with the support of the British Council

» Open to all
» Entrance free 
» Seats are not numbered but seating is limited to a maximum of 200
» No reservation needed

For more information, visit the FameLab website or write to


by CERN Bulletin