Science - March 21, 2018

To FameLab finals in three minutes

Linda van der Nat

Wen Wu and Emmanuel Nyadzi have won the Wageningen preliminary round of FameLab, an international science communication competition. With the creative way in which they presented their research, the two PhD candidates were able to convince the jury in three minutes.

Wen Wu and Emmanuel Nyadzi with chair of the jury Cathelijne Stoof (middle). © Guy Ackermans

Wu works in the Microbiology group on the Crispr-CAS technique, a new method that makes it possible to change the genetic material of viruses, bacteria, plants and animals relatively easily. In her three-minute pitch, Wu compared the way of work with genes to editing a Word document by using ctrl-F (find), ctrl-X (cut) and ctrl-V (paste).

Wu, who was born and raised on Aruba, has previously already proven her talent to speak in front of a crowd. During the opening of the academic year, she held a speech on her research. In 2014, her team finished second in the international iGem competition in Boston.

Native knowledge
Nyadzi works at WIMEK Graduate School, at the chairgroup of Water Systems and Global Change. He studies trends in climate variables and their effect on water, agriculture, natural ecosystems and societies. He explained how important it is to combine native knowledge with scientific findings. Take the local inhabitants of Nyadzi’s country of origin Ghana, for example, where people observe nature to predict the rains. Basing their predictions on the wind, the heat and the behaviour of ants.

The jury chose Wu and Nyadzi over fourteen other well-spoken candidates. Chair of the jury Cathelijne Stoof (Soil Geography and Landscape) praised the creative way in which the two brought their research to attention.

Wu and Nyadzi will represent Wageningen University and Research on 9 May during the national finals in Utrecht. The winner of that round will attend the international finals in Great Britain. Besides the Wageningen preliminary round, five other preliminary rounds were held at other universities in the Netherlands. Masterclasses will be made available in April for the candidates to hone their storytelling skills.

Additional reading (partly in Dutch):