Cheltenham Festivals logo - click for high-res version

Leon Vanstone wins FameLab UK Grand Final

The UK finds its newest star of science communication

April 26, 2013, London. Press Dispensary. Leon Vanstone, a researcher at Imperial College London, has been named the UK winner of FameLab 2013, an international competition to find top new science communicators for the 21st century. Hosted by Quentin Cooper, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Material World, and sponsored by EDF Energy, FameLab was started in the UK in 2005 by The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, in partnership with NESTA.

Across the country hundreds of engaging scientists, engineers and mathematicians compete to make it to the FameLab UK Grand Final. Each of the eleven chosen finalists took to the stage to convey the wonder and relevance of a chosen scientific subject in just three minutes. Leon's winning talk dealt with the engineering behind the Mars Curiosity Rover.  

The panel of judges consisted of UCL's Biomedical imaging expert Professor Mark Lythgoe, Dr Clare Matterson, Wellcome Trust's Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement, and theoretical physicist and BBC broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili. Each assessed the finalists' presentations on three qualities: content, clarity and charisma.  

British neuroscientist and Chairman of Cheltenham Science Festival, Professor Russell Foster FRS, added: "It has never been more important to invest in science and – critically – communicate scientific progress to the broader non-scientific community. Competitions like FameLab introduce us to the next generation of scientists who are not only addressing great scientific challenges, but are able to communicate what they do."

Leon will go on to compete for the ultimate title of International FameLab Champion at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival this June. Joint runners-up Jonathan Webb and Elspeth Kenny each receive a £200 cash prize and up to £300 to spend on a science communication activity.

- ends -

Notes for editors
FameLab was set up in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals in partnership with NESTA to find and nurture scientists and engineers with a flair for communicating with public audiences.  Since 2007, thanks to a partnership with the British Council, FameLab has gone global, with competitions now held in 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa.  In 2012 Cheltenham Festivals signed an agreement with NASA to run FameLab in the United States.  Globally more than 5,000 researchers have taken part.  The result is a vibrant network of exciting scientists and engineers engaging international audiences but also engaging with each other, broadening each other’s views of what it means to be working in science right now. In 2013 the UK competition has been supported by EDF Energy and the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Ingenious grants programme.  

For more information about the competition, visit
@FameLabUK #giveitago

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival (6 - 9 June 2013)  
In and around Cheltenham Town Hall, GL50 1QA

"Unquestionably the leading Science Festival in the country" Professor Lord Winston  

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival is a six-day celebration of science, engineering and the arts which brings the public face to face with some of the world’s greatest thinkers. Established in 2002, Cheltenham Science Festival has grown to become one of the world’s greatest science events and annually attracts impressive speakers and audiences from across the globe. With a programme of serious debate, live experiments and surprising speakers, the 2013 Festival promises the very best platform to explore the world around us. The full programme is available at:

Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1-6 May 2013
The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 4-9 June 2013
Cheltenham Music Festival 3-14 July 2013
The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 4-13 October 2013

For further information, please contact:
Lauren Brice, Cheltenham Festivals
Tel: 01242 537962

Twitter: @FameLabUK #giveitago

Media contacts

Lauren Brice
Tel: 01242 537962

Twitter: @FameLabUK #giveitago

FameLab winner Cheltenham Festivals Leon Vanstone Imperiial College London science communicators Quentin Cooper UK FameLab winner NESTA

Short permalink:

Images for download
Click on any image to view or download in higher resolution.