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FameLab: Exploring Earth and Beyond

Join us in congratulating our new FameLab USA Champion

- Lyl Tomlinson -

from SUNY Stony Brook!

Watch the archived webcast of the Final!

The top eleven out of nearly 100 participants in FameLab USA: Exploring Earth and Beyond met in Washington, DC on April 5th for the Final competition. It was a tough decision by the judges, but Lyl emerged as the winner!

Lyl joins the winners of FameLab competitions from 23 other countries all over the world. He will represent the United States in the FameLab International Final on June 5th at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK!


Paul is the winner from the regional heat in Honolulu, HI.

At heart, Paul Bump is an explorer. This southern California native recently completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where he explored genomics-based approaches to better understand ecosystem interactions of marine organisms. Through research projects at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, and the Center for Microbial Oceanography in Hawaii, Paul came to appreciate the value of molecular approaches in explaining how humans interact with the marine environment at the macro and micro level. If he's not in the lab or under the water, you will probably find him out on the Ultimate Frisbee field!

Paul is the winner from the online regional heat.

Paul got his PhD at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland in 2010, studying how large volcanoes on Mars sink into the crust due to their weight. After teaching for a year, he joined the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism as a Postdoctoral Fellow working on NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury. He recently joined the team at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, TX. Paul is most interested in how enigmatic little Mercury has volcanically and tectonically developed.

Alli is a wild card from the regional heat in San Francisco in 2013.

Alli is a fish biologist turned sensory neuroscientist interested in how fish hear and in how we can use fish to learn more about human hearing. She is also a long-time Toastmaster dedicated to helping scientists improve their communication skills. Her teaching reflects this intersection of biology and communication, incorporating student presentations into my classes. She teaches a course on Neuroscience and Society in which science communication will be a major component.

Gabriella is the winner and audience choice from the regional heat in San Francisco, CA in 2013.

Gabriella is a graduate student in the Geoscience Dept at UW-Madison. She studies rocks in an astrobiology context. In her free time, she enjoys searching for four leaf clovers.

Shayle is the winner and audience choice from the regional heat in San Francisco, CA in 2012.

Shayle studies the evolution of nudibranch geometry and chemical sequestration as an MSc candidate at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) and San Francisco State University. When not in the lab, he hosts the seasonal science mixer “Science, Neat” in San Francisco, which is a pairing of PowerPoint-free lightning talks and live demonstrations. He teaches biology and field sketching to high school students underrepresented in STEM at CAS, and uses watercolor and digital media to make science more accessible (and exciting) to wider audiences.

Amanda is a wild card from the regional heat in St. Louis, MO.

Amanda is a Biological Anthropologist and Evolutionary Ecologist interested in the relationships between sensory and foraging ecology and their roles in human and nonhuman primate evolution and adaptation. Her philosophy is integrative, involving molecular ecology, field observations and isotopic analyses.

Joe is the winner and audience choice from the regional heat in St. Louis, MO.

Joe is a PhD Candidate in anthropology studying the population genetic structure of endangered non-human primates in China. In particular, he is curious how geographic boundaries, such as rivers, deforestation, and topography restrict gene flow. He wants to know how some primates with particular anatomical adaptations, social structures, and behaviors can overcome these geographic and genetic boundaries while others ultimately go extinct because of them.

Josh is a wild card from the regional heat in San Francisco, CA.

Josh received his PhD from UC Berkeley where he explored the question, Why do some stars erupt shortly before exploding in the brilliant displays we know as supernovae? Josh is driven by a desire to share scientific discovery with students, peers, and the public. An award-winning graduate student instructor, he strived in the classroom to reach that thrilling moment of shared discovery. Josh is currently the John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow at the American Astronomical Society.

Alessondra is the winner and audience choice from the regional heat in Houston, TX.

Alessondra works in the planetary studies group at Arecibo Observatory, where she loves zapping asteroids with the 20 terawatt radar system. Her work has taken her to Chile to observe Pluto, Japan to work for JAXA, the Middle East to teach Palestinian and Israeli high school students, and Ghana to encourage entrepreneurship. An award-winning teaching assistant, Sondy takes complicated subjects and makes them accessible to a variety of audiences. She has a bachelor's in Astrophysics from Wellesley College and a master's in Earth & Planetary Science from MIT.

James is a wild card and the audience choice from the regional heat in Honolulu, HI.

James completed an undergraduate degree in Genetics, holds Masters degrees in bioinformatics and mathematical biology, and conducted research into the structure of the HIV virus for his PhD. He joined the University of Hawai'i Astrobiology Institute in 2011 and NASA Ames Research Center in 2013 and works on the physico-chemical properties of amino acids and on the role of geology in the emergence of life.

Lyl is a wild card from the online regional heat.

Lyl is a science writing enthusiast originally from Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently a PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stony Brook University. When he is not reading for his thesis work (which seems like all he does these days), he is writing for his personal blog at: