FameLab Australia 2024 Finalists Confirmed

01 Jul 2024

Twelve early career researchers and up-and-coming science communicators have been selected to compete in the FameLab Australia 2024 Final in Perth on 26 September 2024. Representing universities and research institutions across Australia, the researchers work across a wide field of science, ranging from thunderstorm asthma to agriculture to using smartwatches to predict infections.

This year, 54 applications for FameLab Australia were received, with 38 people progressing to the semi-final stage. In a series of regional semi-finals held online from 17 to 20 June, twelve FameLab finalists were selected to progress to the Australian FameLab Final 2024. The semi-finals were judged by experts from five Australian States, and the panels of judges were comprised of accomplished scientists, science communication experts, and awarded science speakers.

Victoria, ACT and South Australia Semi-Final

Winner:             Auriane Drack
Runners-Up:      Rohanti Ravikulan, Sally Buck and Kira Hughes

New South Wales and Queensland Semi-Final

Winner:             Alice O’Keefe
Runners-Up:      Claire Richards, Graeme Mattison and Penelope Galbraith


Western Australia Semi-Final

Winner:             Georgia Welsh
Runners-Up:      Julia Haile, Bruno Hernandez and Johannes Debler

The contestants work across a variety of research fields and represent universities and research institutions from across the country. 

Finalist Focus Field of Research University/ Institution  State
Sally Buck Exploring chickpea proteins for plant-based food Plant & Agricultural Science CSIRO ACT
Johannes Debler Investigating the interactions between fungal diseases of lentil and chickpea with their host Molecular Biology Curtin University & Centre for Crop and Disease Management WA
Auriane Drack Investigating innovative therapies to mend broken hearts Biomedical Engineering Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute VIC
Penelope Galbraith Exploring how raw plant foods bridge the environment-to-human microbiome Microbial Ecology CSIRO QLD
Julia Haile Investigating how eye gaze influences the interpretation of facial expressions in computer-generated people Psychology & Perception University of Western Australia WA
Bruno Hernandez Pushing the boundaries of collaboration in VR learning environments Science and Technology Education  Curtin University WA
Kira Hughes Developing the first real-time sensor for thunderstorm asthma. Allergy & Asthma Deakin University VIC
Graeme Mattison Using smartwatches to predict infections  Digital Health, Wearables, & Predictive Analytics University of Queensland QLD
Alice O'Keefe Exploring how to treat cancer with magnetic nanoparticles Medical Physics University of Wollongong NSW
Rohanti Ravikulan The link between COVID-19 and broken heart syndrome


Flinders Medical Centre SA
Claire Richards Using mini-placentas to study pregnancy and its complications Reproductive Biology University of Technology Sydney NSW
Georgia Welsh The impact of edible shelter on lamb survival and ewe behaviour Agricultural Science Murdoch University WA

Wayne Lubbe, the Foundation for the WA Museum’s FameLab Project Manager, stated, “The standard of science communication is excellent again this year – FameLab is truly achieving its objective of uncovering exceptional talent in sharing complicated science research with the general public in easy-to-understand and engaging presentations. The science communication training delivered by National Training Partner Comm-it Science Communication is helping to make cutting edge research topics from human biology to new technologies a pleasure to listen to.” 

He added, “Our 12 finalists herald from 6 different States and Territories, and the group includes researchers from educational organisations, government, and industry. FameLab is clearly the essential science communication training program and competition in Australia.” 

All finalists will receive further masterclass training and will travel to Perth in September for an immersive 1.5-day science communication workshop hosted by Forrest Research Foundation, before competing at the FameLab Australia Final on 26 September 2024. The Final will be held live on stage at WA Museum Boola Bardip and will also be live-streamed. Tickets to the Final are now on sale

The Australian FameLab winner will receive the opportunity to represent Australia in the international FameLab final in November 2024. 

FameLab is the world’s leading public-facing science communication competition and training program, created by Cheltenham Festivals (UK). Since 2007, the competition has gone global in over 40 countries, with more than 40,000 scientists participating to date. FameLab is recognised as being a powerful means to identifying and nurturing new voices in science, with previous alumni embarking on high-profile careers in science communication and the media.  

The Foundation for the Western Australian Museum is the producer and country host organisation of FameLab Australia. The focus of FameLab Australia is to promote excellence in science communication for early career STEM researchers in universities, government and industry. The competition is open to early career STEM researchers currently completing postgraduate studies or within five years of completing their postgraduate degrees. 

FameLab Australia is supported by the Western Australian Museum, Comm-It – Communication Solutions with Science, Community Broadcasting Foundation, Curtin University, Forrest Research Foundation, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia. FameLab is supported by the Western Australia Government through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.