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Step 1: Why participate?

"On the surface FameLab looks like it is just a bit of fun but there is a very, very serious underlying purpose here - you just have to look around us to see how science is playing a really fundamental role in understanding our world and where it is going so we need a new generation of people to explain science if the democratic process is going to work effectively." Roger Highfield, former editor of New Scientist.

Science is part of almost every aspect of our lives. Although we rarely think about it, science makes extraordinary things possible. It tells us about the past, helps us with the present, and creates ways to improve our future.


Public interest in science is high, and advances can be rapid, high profile, hyped, misinterpreted, and misunderstood. In this landscape, strong science communication skills are critical to sustaining credibility, support, and funding. Opportunities must be created for scientists, policy makers, and the general public to exchange views in a dialogue of mutual respect and trust. To do this well, we must institutionalize communications training into the scientific pursuit.

The real value in FameLab lies beyond the excitement of the competition element. At each event, there will be a science communication workshop led by professionals in the field—this is the heart of FameLab. These workshops are designed to provide you with insight into how best to talk to stakeholders along your career paths such as department heads, deans, and political representatives, but also voting neighbors and relatives, youth in your communities, and yes—perhaps even to broad public audiences through the lens of a camera or the voice of a blog. The skills you gain may even carry over into effective proposal writing!


By entering FameLab you will begin a journey with like-minded people, explore your own potential and, most of all, have a fantastic time!

FameLab really works...and it's free!

Step 2: Are YOU Eligible?

FameLab EEB is committed to building skills and fostering talent in today’s practicing scientists. Here’s who’s eligible:

  • Those actively doing research in fields such as: 

    Anthropology, Archaeology, Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biology, Climatology, Conservation, Earth Science, Ecology, Geography, Geology, Heliophysics, Paleontology, Planetary Science, Oceanography, Physics, Solar System Exploration

  • Graduate students (both MS and PhD)

  • Postdoctoral fellows and early career researchers within 5 years of receiving PhD or MS degrees

  • Upper division, advanced undergraduate students and mid-career scientists will not be turned away, but the focus is on early career.

  • International (non-US citizen) scientists who are currently working and studying in the US are welcome. They must demonstrate a formal affiliation with a US institution.

  • Science communication students and professionals are NOT eligible.

Step 3: What to Expect

FameLab EEB is like any other commitment – you get out what you put in! Here is how each regional heat will flow, and how you’ll need to prepare:

  • Choose an “Exploring Earth and Beyond” topic, concept, and/or research area; this can include but is not limited to the topic of your own research.

  • Prepare TWO three-minute oral presentations. They may address the same topic, but if they do, they must be notably distinct. Small props are welcome, but no electronic media including slides or charts are allowed. A printed image is not a prop!

  • All participants will deliver their first presentation to the judges in the morning on the day of the heat.

  • After a lunch break, the group participates in a science communication workshop.

  • Winners of the morning competition round will advance to the evening round where they will present their second piece to both the judges and a public audience.

    • All participants are invited and encouraged to attend the evening final round to cheer on their fellow communicators and reap the benefit of all the judges’ feedback!
  • A typical FameLab schedule goes like this, and full participation is expected:

    • ~10am-12:30pm – Morning competition rounds
    • ~12:30-2pm – Group lunch (provided)
    • ~2-5pm – Communications workshop
    • ~7-9pm – Evening competition round
      • This evening event is often held on a separate day from the other activities if the FameLab event is affiliated with a scientific conference.
  • A winner and several wild cards are chosen from each regional heat. Ultimately, the regional winners and a few of the wild cards will emerge as the ten finalists who advance to the FameLab EEB Final in DC in April, 2014. The winner of the FameLab EEB final will advance to the FameLab International Final in the UK in June, 2014.

  • The FameLab EEB team is committed to finding communication and outreach opportunities for all FameLab participants, and supporting them to take part.

What Are the Judging Criteria?

The judges are looking to see you shine in content, clarity, and charisma:

The content of the presentations MUST be scientifically accurate. If the topic chosen has controversy or uncertainty around it, the presentation will likely benefit from acknowledging the opposing views.

Clarity: Clarity is critical for effective science communication. The structure of the talk is important, as is making sure the audience and judges can follow it and are left with an understanding of the scientific concept discussed.

Charisma: The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The presenter must have that hard-to-describe but unmistakable quality of charisma. Strive to make the science easy to listen to, entertaining, and exciting. Communicate the science AND share your passion for it.

Tips and Hints

  • Be sure you have prepared two 3-minute pieces for the judges. They can be on the same topic, but if they are, they should be distinct.

  • There will be a timer on stage with a hard stop at 3 minutes.

  • Don’t memorize your material!

  • There will be a downselect after the morning competition rounds....not everyone will go through to the final round in the evening, but we hope everyone will come and show their support!

  • Remember, no powerpoint or A/V props of any kind are permitted, and a printed powerpoint slide is NOT an acceptable prop! Neither is a live creature or anything fire-related without preapproval. If you have questions about your props, let us know.

  • Dress is business casual.

  • Relax, have fun—this is a supportive environment—everyone is a winner!

More tips and hints from the originators of FameLab in the UK!

Tips for producing your video for the online competition!

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