Geologist, Tshiamo Legoale Wins the FameLab South Africa competition: Taking African Science to the World
Tshiamo Legoale from Mintek, a global leader in mineral and metallurgical innovation, earned her spot as the national winner of the FameLab South Africa competition as she captivated the audience with her riveting 3 minute talk on phytomining, or in simpler terms, how we can harvest gold from wheat crops grown on mine dumps. The bubbly and energetic Tshiamo and the first runner-up, Nanji Sheni, also a researcher at Mintek, are both breaking stereotypes of women in the mining industry. Tshiamo, who joined Mintek in 2012, is an MSc Environmental Management student at the University of Free State (UFS) and holds a degree in Geology and Mineral Resource Management from Wits University. She competed against nine other finalists, selected from over 200 young researchers who participated in FameLab heats across the country. Tshiamo will now represent South Africa at the International FameLab competition at the Cheltenham Science Festival (UK) from the 5th-8th of June.
Michael Ellis, Science Communication Manager at SAASTA commented that “FameLab South Africa is an effective channel for developing local science communication talent and SAASTA is proud to partner in making this possible. 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.” At the semi-finals which were hosted by Wits University, Professor Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor and Principal of Wits University commented that it is important for Africans to participate in the global knowledge economy and to develop the high level research and scarce skills required to foster inclusive development on the continent. “More importantly, we need to share our research stories in the public sphere and use our science-based evidence to influence policies that will ultimately benefit humanity.”
Although the judges’ announcement of the winner came as no surprise to the audience, following the thunderous applause on conclusion of her talk, she humbly commented that, “I am very grateful for the opportunity that Famelab has given me and am excited that I am going overseas. But most importantly I am very humbled that my science has been recognised as being entertaining, important and relevant to society today.” She hopes her idea can assist impoverished communities with building a business case to beneficiate geological ore bodies, which are found in areas rich in natural mineral resources. “So this is one technological innovation that we plan to transfer to the communities that can use it. Hopefully in future this can help employ a few people – it will be fields of gold to harvest,” she said.
Runner-ups Nanji Sheni (an Engineer in training at Mintek) and Dr Sheetal Silal are both graduates of the University of Cape Town (UCT). Nanji holds an MSc from the UCT Center for Minerals Research (CMR) of the Department of Chemical Engineering. Her FameLab talk focused on mineral beneficiation or extending benefits from what would be regarded as mining waste, through the use of floatation in minerals processing. Nanji says, “I am passionate about positive change in Africa and especially our communities and I love the idea generation around creating African solutions to African problems.” Anisa Khan, Newton Fund and Higher Education Programme Manager at the British Council commented that, “the British Council is committed to creating opportunities for youth worldwide and through our work in science we hope to provide a platform for taking African science to the world and to support the co-creation of knowledge through new science and research partnerships with the United Kingdom.”
The 2nd runner up, Dr Sheetal Silal, is a senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Science, at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where she completed both her MSc and Ph.D. Her FameLab talk and primary research area is in the mathematical modeling of infectious diseases with a particular focus on malaria elimination efforts in South Africa, Southern Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. Through her research, she aims to analyse malaria transmission dynamics for policy advice. She is the Head of the newly formed research group Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa (MASHA) based at the University of Cape Town, a group aimed to connect and train African mathematical modelers working in tropical diseases.
Should your institution wish to get involved in FameLab 2018, submit an expression of interest form available on the British Council, JiveMedia Africa or SAASTA websites or contact Anisa Khan at the British Council firstname.lastname@example.org
FameLab in South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement and Jive Media Africa.
For more information, please contact:
Anisa Khan, British Council: Newton Fund and Higher Education Programme Manager
Tel: 011 560 9322 Cell: 082 783 8430 Email: Anisa.Khan@britishcouncil.org
Shavaughn Haack, British Council: Communications Manager
Tel: 011 560 9348 Cell: 082 821 8967 Email: Shavaughn.Haack@britishcouncil.org
Robert Inglis, Jive Media Africa Director
Tel: 033 342 9380/2 Cell: 084 357 7333 Email: email@example.com
Joanne Riley, SAASTA, Science Editor: Science Communication
Tel: 012 392 934 9 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org