International stage awaits local scientist

Caption: Keneilwe Moropa (right) from the National Centre for Nano Structured Materials (CSIR) won the FameLab South Africa science communication competition. Runners-up were Charmaine Tshangana (left) from UNISA’s Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Research Unit and Matia Mukama (centre), a food scientist from Stellenbosch University.

Keneilwe Moropa is in the United Kingdom from 3 to 7 June to share her research with an international audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

Keneilwe is the winner of the South African leg of FameLab; the largest science communication competition in the world, taking place in over 30 countries worldwide. FameLab aims to develop communication skills in young scientists and encourage them to share their research with the public.

The young researcher was awarded first place at the national finals on 6 May 2019 among stiff competition for her captivating talk on the use of nanotechnology to clean polluted water. Her talk complemented other conversations about water and about how science communication is a critical component of ensuring a safe supply into the future. She was one of 15 charismatic young FameLab finalists who are transforming South Africa with their innovative scientific research and their infectious passion for sharing it.

Keneilwe is a student at Tshwane University of Technology and intern at the National Centre for Nanostructured Materials at the CSIR. Her work involves using Nano-composites to remove heavy metals polluting water from mining and industrial activities.  

 “I’m absolutely excited and  a little nervous because I will be representing my country and want to do my best,” said Keneilwe. Keneilwe is passionate about science communication because it “makes science more accessible to the public and helps cultivate the next generation of researchers and innovators.” She also said that, the best attitude when it comes to communicating science is a “willingness to learn while teaching at the same time.”

Michael Ellis, science communication manager at the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), commented that, “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.”

 “We are seeing that participating in FameLab enhances the careers of young researchers. We are very excited that the competition has continued to grow since its inception in South Africa in 2013. We are looking forward to bringing more institutions on board in the year ahead.” said Robert Inglis, Director of Research Communication Agency Jive Media Africa.

FameLab is an initiative of Cheltenham Science Festival, United Kingdom. FameLab in South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, SAASTA and Jive Media Africa. Institutions wishing to get involved in FameLab can contact

Follow the FameLab International final on Facebook @FameLabInternational.