Split couples and artificial hearts win FameLab @ TU/e

Nine TU/e candidates competed in the Corona hall in Luna for the two final places of FameLab Tuesday evening: an event aimed at the promotion of science communication worldwide. Dan Jing Wu and Jens Wehner were the lucky winners of this regional round.

photo Rob Stork

After the audience received some useful instructions for applause by host Annabel Romijn, the evening could start. The candidates each had three minutes to pitch their research. They were assessed on the three Cs: content, clarity and charisma. It takes quite the effort not only to explain your research in an understandable way, but to also bring it in an appealing manner and make it relevant to the public. The candidates were not allowed to use Powerpoints or videos, they could only use an object to support their story.

The Faculty of Biomedical Engineering was well represented with four delegates Tuesday evening. And where some did not need any object for support, others well compensated for their colleagues by bringing multiple items.

The research, solutions and dreams of the scientists were diverse. But they had one thing in common: they all tried to find an original approach and used metaphors to make their complex matters more concrete. For example, Seb Harrevelt made the comparison of the MRI machine with an orchestra for which he was dressed in a complete conductor costume. Attention from the audience garanteed.

Friso Heslinga gave a futuristic performance in which he clearly explained how the eyes are the window to the brain - and by taking a special photo and analyzing it with artificial intelligence, you can see if someone has certain diseases such as diabetes type 2 or alzheimer.

Read on below the photos.

The jury was very pleased with all nine pitches, but had to make a choice. Jury member Ines Lopez announced the result. With the combination of her personal story, her dream and future expectations, Dan Jing Wu managed to convince the jury of her plastic heart that, in time, should save people who are still waiting (often in vain) for a donor heart. Through tissue engineering, she and her colleagues are busy making a beating heart of non-living material.

King of props Jens Wehner was also a lucky winner with victory to bring home - that is if he still has room for it next to all the balls, balloons and rollable solar cells. Wehner made his entrance by telling about how he likes to separate couples. “Everything and everyone should be single. That’s better for the environment. My friends don't think it's romantic, but it's necessary. And the challenge with splitting is the mutual attraction.” He got a lot of laughs, but also had all the attention. And the story came across clearly: his research was about splitting couples in solar cells to make them function properly.

Wehner and Wu will be in the national final of FameLab on the 9th of May in TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. The winner of the national final will receive a master class at the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) on science communication and presentation skills, and a ticket for the international final to be held at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom.

This year, the TU/e is participating for the first time in FameLab, an initiative of the British Council.

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