FameLab has been running in South Africa since 2013 and has influenced hundreds of young scientists from various sciences and research institutions across the country. For some, FameLab was their first experience in science communication. For others, it provided a platform to further develop and explore their passion for communication. In reflecting on the past 5 years, we chatted to some of the past winners and runners up to find out what they are doing now.

Click here to hear their thoughts about science communication and FameLab.

The 2018 FameLab cycle has started. Are you a young person studying or working in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering, and related fields? Would you like to improve your communication skills and, at the same time, have the opportunity to tell South Africa and perhaps the world about your work? Would you like to join a network of other young scientists in South Africa and around the world? Sign up for FameLab and be part of one of the biggest science communication competitions worldwide!

Find a heat near you, and register here

Institution Training Heat City
University of Cape Town 21 and 25 August 2017 29 August 2017 Cape Town
South African Environmental Observation Network 12 September 2017 13 September 2017 Cape Town
Mintek 13 October 2017 17 November 2017 Johannesburg
Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 6 December 2017 7 December 2017 Pretoria
University of Limpopo- Science Education Centre 15 February 2018 16 February 2018 Limpopo
Central University of Technology 20 February 2018 21 February 2018 Bloemfontein
University of South Africa 1 March 2018 Pretoria
Tshwane University of Technology 9 February 2018 2 March 2018 Pretoria
University of Fort Hare 6 March 2018 7 March 2018 Alice
Nelson Mandela University (TBC) 8 March 2018 9 March 2018 Port Elizabeth
 University of Western Cape 15 March 2018 16 March 2018 Cape Town
Centres of excellence (WITS) 19 March 2018 20 March 2018 Johannesburg
Square Kilometre Array (SKA) TBC 7 March 2017 Cape Town

If you’re looking for inspiration or want to get a better idea of what makes a good FameLab talk, listen to the 2017 FameLab SA finalists here.

What is FameLab?

FameLab is one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world. Young scientists present and explain a scientific concept to a general audience in three minutes.

By taking part in FameLab, young scientists have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, gain invaluable communication skills, and meet amazing like-minded people. Importantly they also become part of an increasingly exciting network of scientists and engineers able to clearly and imaginatively explain their science to the general public.

FameLab in South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement and Jive Media Africa.

Prizes and Judges


All participants who are selected as semi-finalists at a FameLab South Africa heat will receive R500 gift vouchers and all expenses paid master class training. Find out more here.


Judges can come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds including science, science communication, media and FameLab alumni. Find the judges’ top tips here.

Previous Winners

Nozipho Gumbi (2016)

Nozipho Gumbi has big dreams and hopes for a world that is free of water scarcity and poor-quality water. Originally from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, she recently visited Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany as an exchange student for a duration of six months, where she was advancing her PhD studies. She is researching the unlimited possibilities offered by carbon nanotubes and seeks to exploit some of their features for enhanced water purification purposes in order to realise her dreams. After winning the Famelab South Africa 2016 title and being in the top ten Famelab international final in the UK, she says that life has never been the same for her. She has done several radio and television interviews in South Africa, and was recently recognised by the South African news source the Mail & Guardian in its 200 Young South Africans supplement for 2016. On the 30th of September 2016, she was amongst the six Famelab alumni’s that participated in the Hall of Famelab competition that was part of a larger night of science communication called Science Uncovered, held at the Natural History Museum in London. Additionally, Ms Gumbi is actively involved in the mentorship and in the tutoring of young girls and boys that are taking science at high school level.

Stevie Biffen (2015)

Stevie is inspired by what makes us human, has Honours degrees in both psychology and biological anthropology, and is now a candidate for a PhD in neuroscience. She has a passion for passing on knowledge as she believes that science should never be reserved for the selected few, who have had the privilege of studying it.

Raven Motsewabangwe (2014)

“Being crowned the South African FameLab champion has changed my life in ways I never thought possible” says Raven, who was awarded a full bursary to study his masters degree in biology by the North-West University after winning FameLab following which he was selected as a representative for the microbial biotechnology laboratory to conduct a collaborative study with the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) in Argentina. Raven’s favourite quote is by Albert Einstein: “I am not a genius, just passionately curious.”

Michelle Knights (2013)

Michelle is a young scientist who is making a mark in the science communication community – she won South Africa’s first-ever FameLab competition and she also won a first prize in broadcast category of SAASTA’s Young Science Communicators competition earlier, the same year! Michelle holds BSc degree in Physics and Maths from Rhodes University and did her Honours with the National Astrophysics and Space Science Program (NASSP) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She later upgraded her degree to PhD in Cosmology.

Famelab 2016

SAASTA congratulates Nozipho Gumbi, the FameLab SA 2016 winner from UNISA, on her success in the FameLab International competition held at the Cheltenham Science Festival on 8 and 9 June 2016 in the UK. National finalists from 30 countries came together to compete in three semi-finals, and Nozipho was selected to go through to the international finals as one of 12 finalists. Nozipho, you have made us proud. You are a truly inspiring role model for woman in science everywhere. Watch the Famelab International Final here.

Nozipho was also invited as one of six Famelab alumnis that participated in the Hall of Famelab competition that was part of a larger night of science communication called Science Uncovered, held at the Natural History Museum in London, in September 2016. She was also recognised by the Mail & Guardian in its 200 Young South Africans supplement for 2016.

Click here to watch the FameLab 2017 Top Ten Finalists.

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