Murdoch University forensic science superstar Dr Paola Magni channelled timelord Doctor Who to give a stellar performance in the final of FameLab International, the world’s top science communication competition.
Dressed like the latest Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, Dr Magni used the Tardis and a sonic screwdriver to explain how humble barnacles can be like timelords, providing investigators with vital historical clues to murders, plane crashes and even trafficking on boats.
Earning fourth place in the international final of the science communication contest, which took place in the United Kingdom, Dr Magni said she was incredibly proud to represent Australia and Murdoch on the global stage.
“Being a part of this competition has been an amazing experience,” Dr Magni said.
“From coming through the heats and the Australian final, to travelling to the UK to take part in the international finals, I have learned an awful lot and met some amazing communicators and researchers along the way.
Dr Magni has won the audience award at each of her three FameLab performances running up to the international final, which took place at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom this week.
Science for Justice
Each time she has explained how she is using science for justice and closure for families, impressing judges with the wealth of information that can be gleaned from barnacles found on vital pieces of evidence like clothing, or the underside of boats.
“They can tell us so much – where a body came from, how long a body has been in the water and the chemicals in the creatures can even help us to track the journey taken by a body in the ocean,” Dr Magni said.
“The creatures tell us the when and where, pivotal information for a correct crime scene reconstruction.”
Passion and enthusiasm for science
Murdoch University Acting Vice Chancellor Romy Lawson said Murdoch was immensely proud of Dr Magni’s achievements in FameLab.
“Paola’s passion and enthusiasm for forensic science comes across in her research, teaching and her numerous community engagement activities – she has done incredibly well to reach the international final,” Professor Lawson said.
“As a University which prides itself on translational research making a real difference to peoples’ lives, being able to communicate our findings and successes with a wide audience is vital. Paola has dedicated herself over many years to developing a charismatic style which clearly engages with a wide audience as well as her students.
“We are looking forward to congratulating her on a job well done when she returns to Australia.”
World's top scicomm comp
FameLab is a competition owned and created by Cheltenham Festivals in the UK. The British Council has licence to deliver the competition in over 25 countries overseas. Since its birth at the Festival in 2005, FameLab has grown into the world’s leading science communication competition. A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 10,000 young scientists and engineers participating to date.
In 2019, FameLab was produced in Australia by the Foundation for the Western Australian Museum with the British Council as the International partner. The Western Australian Museum is a national partner.