Malaysian crowned champion at UK science fest

Kye (in headscarf) receiving the award after bagging the 2018 FameLab International Champion title in the UK.

A BIOLOGICAL science lecturer from Malaysia recently beat 27 other science communicators from across the world to claim the title of 2018 FameLab International Champion in the United Kingdom.

Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah, better known as Kye, who works at Universiti Sains Malaysia, spoke on tuberculosis control in front of a live audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival held at the Arena in Cheltenham, UK.

The 33-year-old is the second Malaysian to be crowned champion of the international competition after Prof Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, who won the title in 2016.

“When I took stage and was about to speak, I dropped all anxiety and nerves and just committed to that moment, it was really quite magical.

“Being able to connect with the audience was great. I had the opportunity, thanks to FameLab,” Kye said.

She won the judges’ hearts with her calm and engaging presence on stage, fine storytelling skills and clarity of content.

The judges were science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry; Physics and Astronomy professor, author and science communicator Clifford Johnson; as well as Wellcome Trust acting creative and partnerships lead Farrah Nazir.

Parry said: “People think that being a good science communicator is about being an extrovert.

“But what Kye showed us was that quiet authority and stunning clarity of content is the thing that really communicates best to a very wide audience.”

Cheltenham Festivals education director Ali Mawle said: “FameLab united the world through a passion for science and for sharing it with the public.

“Kye embodied the 3Cs – content, clarity and charisma; she and the other finalists demonstrated how much FameLab has raised the bar for science communication since it began in 2015.”

This year’s finals featured contestants from 27 countries.

In Malaysia, FameLab is co-organised by British Council and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). The Malaysia National Final was held in May where 10 finalists took stage in front of an audience of 400 people.

Since 2005, FameLab has grown into a leading science communication competition.

A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 10,000 young scientists and engineers participating to-date.

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