Gugulethu Mabuza-Hocquet

FameLab SA 2014 Runner Up

What are you currently doing (studies/work)?

I am a biometrics researcher, currently involved in a project that aims to develop a biometric identification system for children in South Africa, to help protect their identity from infancy until such time that they are old enough to apply for their own IDs.

What drove you to enter FameLab?

The manner in which FameLab was advertised or communicated within the CSIR is what sparked the interest for me to enter.  Also, I felt that it was interesting for me to share the fascinating science and technology behind  iris recognition, which is now used by our smart phones.

How did you find your FameLab experience? What still stands out today?

It was one of the greatest experiences in my academic life. It reminded me why I was doing my project. Having the platform to share the project with other people helped me to value and understand the importance and the impact that science can bring in one’s life.

What stands out today is learning that I actually love talking about my work and getting the feeling that I am educating rather that boasting. I also found out that I love public speaking, working with other young, talented, upcoming scientists. With the training we received, I am very much in love with presenting. I have also improved in communicating anything and with anyone easily and getting the point across respectfully and humbly so.


How did your perceptions about science communication and public engagement with science change through participating in FameLab?

I think I have already answered this one above.

Did FameLab impact you in any other way?

Yes, I am now the science shrink at work :). Somehow my colleagues find it easier to come and talk to me about their work related frustrations on their various projects. They say that even if I do not have the specific domain knowledge, I always provide them with the right answers… and that just makes my day!!!.

What would you say to young scientists thinking about taking part in FameLab?

In fact, since my experience with Famelab, I have since recruited some of my colleagues who have already entered FameLab. I have made it my personal mission to at least make sure that one person from my unit will enter FameLab. I am glad to say that even if they have not won, they still entered. I am also doing the same this year and the other years to come.