Friday 02 June 2017

As South Africa celebrates Youth Month in June, one of the country’s brightest young minds and the winner of FameLab South Africa 2017, Tshiamo Legoale, is heading to the UK where she’ll represent the country at the FameLab International Final 2017, at the Cheltenham Science Festival from 5-8 June 2017.

Speaking on Channel Africa’s morning radio show, Africa Rise and Shine, the 27 year old Geologist from Mintek, a global leader in mineral and metallurgical innovation, said that winning the SA title was not just an exciting opportunity for her. “It’s also very humbling that I get to represent South Africa and tell the world that the research being done in this country can actually be at the forefront of the global research being communicated. But it’s also very humbling because it says that the work that I do is found to be relevant and it’s found to be very important to society”.

Tshiamo will be presenting her winning talk on phytomining, which involves growing plants on top of low grade ores. In South Africa, “we have an estimated 17.7 million tons of gold waste. All this gold was mined out previously, but tiny amounts of this gold remains in the dumps,” said Tshiamo who is researching a method of using wheat to harvest gold from these dumps.

The final will take place from 8.30pm-10.30pm UK time, at the Parabola Arts Centre in front of a packed Cheltenham Festival audience. You too can be part of the action as one of the digital audiences who will tune in to the live video streaming via the FameLab International Facebook page:

You can also follow @zaBritish on Twitter for the latest updates from Tshiamo and keep up with the action by following @FameLab and @CheltSciFest. You can use #FameLab to join the conversation.

A Giant Leap for African Women in Science

This year’s African finals have also been a big win for women in science. The four participating African countries which include Egypt, as well as Mauritius and Uganda who both held their inaugural FameLab competitions, are all sending young female scientists to the international finals. “FameLab 2017 in Africa as a whole has been quite exciting. Through role models such as Tshiamo, Irene Kyomuhangi from Uganda, Roshnee Rakomar from Mauritius, and Yasmine Samir from Egypt, we hope to inspire other young female scientists, and have other young people see that science is possible, it’s accessible and it’s exciting,” said FameLab SA Project Manager, Moagisi Sibanda.

The international final will take place on 8 June 2017 in Cheltenham, with 31 young science communicators from across the globe competing for the title, the largest number of countries participating to date. The judges will include Ellen Stofan (former Chief Scientist at NASA), Jim Al-Khalili (theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster) and Tim Slingsby (Director of Skills and Education at Lloyd's Register Foundation) and the event will be hosted by the BBC’s Quentin Cooper. Each contestant will deliver a three-minute presentation on their chosen topic. Every presentation will be judged according to the golden rule of the 3 Cs: content, clarity and charisma. 

FameLab South Africa 2018 Expressions of Interest

Institutions or organisations involved in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) research, are invited to submit an expression of interest to host a heat for the 2018 competition cycle. Heats can be used to showcase your science and technology research within your organisation as well as an opportunity to build organisational capacity in science communication, through the training offered by FameLab SA partner, Jive Media Africa. Expressions of interest must be submitted on or before 15 June 2017. Email for forms or visit more information. Slots are filling up so submit your form early.

Notes to Editor

About FameLab

FameLab® was started in 2005 in the UK by Cheltenham Science Festivals and is a successful model for identifying, training and mentoring scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for their subjects with the public. It is implemented by the British Council, together with local partners, in over 31 countries, including Mauritius, Uganda, the USA, Brazil, Thailand, Qatar and Kazakhstan to name a few. In SA, the competition is implemented in partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (a business unit of the National Research Foundation) and Jive Media Africa.

The competition has a strong capacity building element with a year-long training programme and heats hosted by various science, higher education and research institutions across the country. One semi-finalist is chosen from each of these heats. The prizes include science communication Master-class training for the 20 semi-finalists as well as a R5000 cash prize for the winner and R2500 each for the runners up. A highlight for the participants this year was the Master-class conducted by renowned BBC science journalist, producer and communicator, Quentin Cooper.

About Jive Media Africa:

Jive Media Africa creates innovative, cutting edge communications; grabbing attention and conveying crucial messages in accessible ways. An award-winning multi-media company, Jive Media Africa produces media strategies and products that challenge and inform, making a difference in the areas of Science and Technology (Jive Science), Biodiversity Conservation (Jive Earth), Children in the context of HIV/ AIDS (Jive Children) and Human Rights (Jive People). Jive Media Africa strategises the best combination of media for the message, and importantly, for the target audience. 

For more information, please visit You can also follow them on Facebook: 


The South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) is a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation and technology in South Africa. SAASTA’s contribution to the NRF’s vision is to grow the pool of quality learners today who will become the scientists and innovators of tomorrow. All science engagement programmes within the NRF reside under three key strategic areas that combine to form an integrated and seamless approach. 

Through education we build up the supply of tomorrow’s scientists and innovators. Through communication we celebrate South African achievements in science and technology and build the public’s appreciation of the benefits of science. By growing the awareness of science through exploration, exhibitions and actual experience, we instil in people an enthusiasm about the wonder and application of the subject, while encouraging greater public engagement in SET issues. By taking overall ownership of science advancement initiatives within the NRF and on a countrywide scale, SAASTA is responding to an organisational as well as national imperative. 

For more information, please visit  


Moagisi Sibanda, British Council: Newton Fund Projects and Communications Manager

Tel: 011 560 9325 Cell: 082 295 1581 Email:

Shavaughn Haack, British Council: Communications Manager

Tel: 011 560 9348 Cell: 082 821 8967 Email: 

Robert Inglis, Jive Media Africa Director

Tel: 033 342 9380/2 Cell: 084 357 7333 Email:

Joanne Riley, SAASTA, Science Editor: Science Communication

Tel: 012 392 934 9 Email:

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. 

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through