From NMS|FCM to European Researchers' Night in London - The journey of a FameLab Contestant

Inês Ferreira Guedes, finalist of FameLab Portugal, returned to the podiums with a magnificent second place in the international Science Communication contest – Hall of FameLab – at the Natural History Museum in London, last Friday.

In the first year that the national organization of FameLab was involved in partnerships with Universities and Centros de Ciência Viva from all over the country, Inês Guedes participated in the regional round in Lisbon, organized by NOVA Medical School and Pavilhão do Conhecimento, bringing her unexpected international recognition.

National final during National Geographic Summit @ Coliseu dos Recreios, Lisbon

National final during National Geographic Summit @ Coliseu dos Recreios, Lisbon

- What made you participate in FameLab Portugal?
FameLab is a concept that I have in my life since the beginning of my academic life. However, it started to take form only last year when a friend of mine properly presented it to me, and showed me that it might be the ideal contest for me, as it challenges me in what I love most: Science Communication.

- What meaning does your participation in this Science Communication contest have for you?
All of it! I am a person of many crafts: from animation to investigation, passing through sports and theatre, there are numerus things that I love and do regularly. FameLab reminded me that communicating science must continue on my plans of what I must and want to do for many many years to come.

- What value did this initiative add to your path?
Participating in a contest like FameLab is a constant challenge. The butterflies that took over my stomach when I sent the screening video where swollen my reptiles that invaded me when I went to the round at NOVA Medical School. The birds that overtook the reptile fluttered madly in my stomach when from the regional round, I stepped on the stage of Coliseu dos Recreios. It’s indescribable the Zoo I felt during those months. But better than that Zoo was the experience that I had, the contacts I made and the people I met during those months.

- How did you take the invitation to participate in the Hall of FameLab in London?
Curiously, in the moment that I was invited, I was at the beach with a friend of mine who, even more curious, was the winner of the 2018 edition of FameLab. The enthusiasm was so that I lost my phone in the sand. Luckily, I was not around water… But even if I was, I still had no idea what was waiting for me.

- What was the work that you presented in the Hall of FameLab?
After a lot of thinking, in the Hall of FameLab, I told the story of the first sea turtle that I met. It was called Mydas and it was a green turtle… When I found it, the enthusiasm was so to see this long-awaited creature I didn’t even notice that something was wrong. Along with the team, I started to do exactly what I was told to try and save it. Mydas died. When we preformed the necropsy, it took us few minutes to understand what had happened. Mydas ingested so much plastic that it died of an inflamed gastric system. I always dreamt of the day that I would see a free sea turtle for the first time. The nightmare that it became made me think about it, of all that this entails and, above all else, talk about it till this day. In the 28th September 2018, I told the story of Mydas at the European Researchers' Night to all that were hilling to hear, leaving the alert that we have to do something urgent relating to our Planet and its conservation.

- In your opinion, what are the main challenges of Science Communication?
Winning the audience is, with no doubt, the fundamental challenge in science communication. Talking to an unknown audience and finding elements take make them interested in what we have to say isn’t always easy to do. Producing accessible content to any audience is also an enormous challenge. Sometimes, things that are obvious to the specialists may not make sense or, at least, may not flow in the minds of the general public. Making themes, concepts or specific terminologies accessible to the public is a constant challenge.

- How can Science Communication make a difference in our society?
Right now, I believe it makes all the difference. I think about it a lot and believe we have reached a point in which the distance between science professionals (may it be from whichever branch), as well as its knowledge’s, has to be immensely reduced. If we do not communicate what science discovers, firstly, we stop being recognised for what we do. Secondly, I believe that science must be accessible to all, and for that it has to be uncomplicated. Uncomplicating science is a mission that has to be more and more frequent.

Regional round in Lisbon @ NOVA Medical School

Regional round in Lisbon @ NOVA Medical School

Inês Ferreira Guedes holds a degree in Biology from the University of Aveiro, where she also took her Master’s Degree in Marine Biology. During her academic training she was able to develop part of her project at the Natural History Museum, in London. Currently, Inês is a Manager of Nature Experiences at Ozadi Tavira Hotal and the principal proponent of Viagens Pelo Nosso Mundo, a collection of children’s science books.

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