Rhodes University students compete to make science make sense

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Rhodes University FameLab finalists
Rhodes University FameLab finalists

Tsebang Matlapeng, an MSc student in chemistry, emerged as the representative of Rhodes University for the national FameLab SA final. FameLab, a competition emphasising effective communication of scientific research to a broad audience, underscores the importance of making complex scientific concepts accessible and engaging. The local competition, which was part of a two-day preparation workshop facilitated by Jive Media Africa, saw participants striving to explain their research within a concise three-minute presentation.

Tsebang's success, alongside the commendable efforts of runners-up Havilah Nnadozie and Sinetemba Xoxo from the Institute of Water Research, highlights the vibrant scientific community at Rhodes University. The University's focus on nurturing science communication skills among its students is evident in its collaboration with Jive Media Africa and the encouragement from Prof Jo Dames, the Dean of Science.

Reflecting on the workshop, Tsebang praised its fun, informative, and interactive nature, pointing out the crucial role of an engaging and positive learning environment in science communication. She articulated a compelling viewpoint on the significance of science communication, emphasising its potential to bridge the gap between researchers and the broader community. By addressing everyday problems through research and sharing discoveries in a relatable manner, scientists can significantly impact societal well-being.

Tsebang's research in supramolecular chemistry, focusing on the development of new chemical structures with potential applications in creating more effective treatments with fewer side effects, exemplifies the practical relevance of scientific research. Her achievement in the FameLab competition and her dedication to making science accessible underscore the essential role of science communication in modern research.

Rhodes University's commitment to making the FameLab competition an annual event, with the continued partnership of Jive Media Africa, signals a promising future for science communication initiatives at the university. This not only fosters a culture of openness and engagement within the scientific community but also enhances the societal impact of research conducted by its students and faculty.