Geologist scoops the FameLab South Africa competition

Tshiamo Legoale from Mintek earned her spot as the national winner of the FameLab South Africa competition, as she captivated the audience yesterday (19 April 2017) at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, with her riveting 3 minutes talk on phytomining, or in simpler terms, how we can harvest gold from wheat crops grown on mine dumps.

The bubbly and energetic Legoale and the first runner-up, Nanji Sheni, also a researcher at Mintek, are both breaking stereotypes of women in the mining industry.

She competed against nine other finalists, selected from over 200 young researchers who participated in FameLab heats across the country. Legoale will now represent South Africa at the International FameLab competition at the Cheltenham Science Festival (UK) from the 5th-8th of June 2017.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Famelab has given me and am excited that I am going overseas. But most importantly I am very humbled that my science has been recognised as being entertaining, important and relevant to society today,” says Legoale.

She hopes her idea can assist impoverished communities with building a business case to beneficiate geological ore bodies, which are found in areas rich in natural mineral resources. “So this is one technological innovation that we plan to transfer to the communities that can use it. Hopefully in future this can help employ a few people – it will be fields of gold to harvest,” she added.

Legoale, who joined Mintek in 2012, is an MSc Environmental Management student at the University of Free State (UFS) and holds a BSc Degree in Geology (UFS) and a certificate in Mineral Resource Management from Wits University.

“FameLab South Africa is an effective channel for developing local science communication talent and SAASTA is proud to partner in making this possible. FameLab is inspiring young scientists to talk about their science and to make their voices heard. Our hope is that these young scientists will continue to do so throughout their research careers,” says Mr Michael Ellis, Science Communication Manager at SAASTA.

“The British Council is committed to creating opportunities for youth worldwide and through our work in science we hope to provide a platform for taking African science to the world and to support the co-creation of knowledge through new science and research partnerships with the United Kingdom,” says Ms Anisa Khan, Newton Fund and Higher Education Programme Manager at the British Council.

“It has been such a privilege to work with so many passionate scientists throughout the FameLab competition. We continue to experience the immense power of FameLab for finding new voices for science. We encourage all of our incredible research and science institutions to join us in the next cycle of FameLab South Africa,” added Mr Robert Inglis, Jive Media Director.

Should your institution wish to get involved in FameLab 2018, submit an expression of interest form available on the British Council, JiveMedia Africa or SAASTA websites or contact Anisa Khan at the British Council

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.


1st place Tshiamo Legoale

2nd place Nanji Sheni

3rd place Dr Sheetal Silal