MSc environmental management student at University of the Free State Tshiamo Legoale took top honours with her speech on phytomining when she competed against 31 scientists from across the world at the 2017 FameLab International competition.
The 27-year-old scientist represented South Africa at the competition at the Parabola Arts Centre at the Cheltenham Science Festival, held in the UK from June 6 to 11, and walked away the 2017 FameLab International Champion and Audience Vote Winner.
“I was very humbled by the opportunity to come here for the very first time in my life to meet wonderful people and extremely good scientists. “I got to hear what everybody else in the world is doing. FameLab has been an amazing journey from the beginning to the end,” says Legoale.
The UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations British Council chairperson Christopher Rodrigues said: “Tshiamo was a worthy winner in a competition which set exceptionally high standards for science communications. The British Council aims to inspire, inform and connect the youth of the world. You couldn’t ask for a better example of our mission delivered.”
A scientist at South Africa’s national mineral research organisation Mintek, Legoale won the local leg of the competition, FameLab South Africa, a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement and media company Jive Media Africa, in April.
Legoale’s three-minute speech on phytomining, whereby gold is harvested from wheat crops growing on mine waste tailings, booked her the top spot in the competition. During the South African leg, she competed against nine other finalists, selected from over 200 young researchers who participated in FameLab heats held across the country.
Legoale hopes that her idea can aid impoverished communities by building a business case for geological orebodies in areas rich in natural mineral resources. This will provide employment for communities. In addition to her current studies, Legoale holds a degree in geology and mineral resources management from Johannesburg-based University of the Witwatersrand.