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Marcia Brandenburg wins FameLab final

Marcia Brandenburg, PhD candidate at Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies in Leiden, is the winner of the Dutch final of the science communication competition FameLab. She will represent the Netherlands in the final.

Recognising happiness

Marcia Brandenburg (links) neemt de juryprijs in ontvangst
Marcia Brandenburg (left) receiving the jury prize

'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.' Brandenburg started her presentation by singing this well-known refrain, illustrating that facial recognition is important for interpreting a person’s mood. This recognition is a problem for people with autism. She went on to talk about treatments for autism. The four-man jury praised the PhD candidate for her humour and enthusiasm, and for the fact that she chose a single subject and gave a very detailed presentation. Brandenburg won both the main prize and the NTR public prize during the final of FameLab in the Boerhaave Museum on 21 April. During the final, ten young science researchers each had just three minutes to talk about a science subject in English. Powerpoint was forbidden, but they could use props. NTR is making a programme about FameLab, that will be broadcast on 22 April in De Kennis van Nu on NPO2

Finals in Great Britain

Marcia Brandenburg
Marcia Brandenburg

Brandenburg Brandenburg will represent the Netherlands in the international FameLab final during the Cheltenham Science Festival in Great Britain on 1 June 2015. Finalists from more than 25 different countries will compete with one another. Brandenburg: ‘I’ll ask Hanna Swaab, my supervisor, straight away tomorrow whether I can have a couple of days free. Then I can really work on polishing my presentation and get other people to listen to it, too. I am ecstatic about winning both prizes. Research on autism is so important, I just want to tell everyone about it. I think the jury could see that.’

Underwater sounds and experimental liquids

The ten participants in the final were selected from previous rounds at different Dutch universities. Leiden was well represented. Besides the winner there were two other Leiden finalists: PhD candidate in behavioural psychology and linguistics Michelle Spierings, and Ryan Bogaars, who is conducting PhD research on plant ecology. Spierings talked about the influence that underwater sounds made by people have on animals. Bogaars’ presentation was on experimental liquids. The jury commended the high level and enthusiasm of all the contestants.

( 22 April 2015)


Since it started at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2005, Famelab has become the biggest science communication competition in the world. The British Council has organised the competition since 2007. More than 5,000 scientists and engineers take part in 25 countries. 

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