Doctor Karolina Nowak won the fifth edition of FameLab

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Doctor Karolina Nowak won in the finals of the fifth Polish edition of FameLab, held on April 17th in Warsaw’s Copernicus Science Centre. In June, she will represent Poland in the world finals of the competition.

Scientists participating in the competition FameLab face the jury and audience to talk about a scientific topic, which they consider fascinating. Each of them has the stage, the microphone, and only three minutes for the presentation.

The competition jury awarded the first prize to Karolina Nowak – the doctor at Warsaw Bielański hospital and doctoral student at the Department of Endocrinology, Medical Center of Postgraduate Education and the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research PAS. The prize is 30 thousand zlotys for research, 5 thousand zlotys for personal expenses and the Special Award of PWN – academic staff training of the winners choice. She will also represent Poland in the international finals in Cheltenham, UK, which will take place in early June.

During the final presentation, she spoke about the fact that – contrary to popular opinion – the children in the womb do not hear sound transmitted directly through the air. Therefore, there is not a point, for example, to play operatic arias reading books aloud for them. The team, of which the winner is a member, constructed a device called the prenatal communicator, which in the future may help communicate with a child in the belly of a mother.

Second place in the competition and 5 thousand zlotys went to Paweł Jarosław Mazurkiewicz – Ph.D. student at the University of Warsaw and the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology. During his three-minute presentation, he spoke about the ant kiss, which is one of the most important social behaviour of these insects. During this kiss ants share food, helping to survive those individuals that have not managed to obtain food.

In third place was Jakub Lewicki – Ph.D. student at the Swedish Karolinska Institute, who won 3 thousand zlotys. The subject of his presentation were stem cells. He explained the if you collect any cell from the skin and add a few genes to it, this cell will become a stem cell. This cell, in turn, can develop into almost any cell in the human body.

Audience Award – sponsored by the British Council – went to Anna Kotlińska, a Ph.D. student at the Jagiellonian University. In the final presentation, she spoke about sugars present in mother’s milk, which serves as food for bacteria that live in child’s intestine. These, in turn, produce serotonin, which has a calming effect on a child.

Award of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education – participation in a conference of choice in Europe – was given to Krzysztof Zawierucha from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. In his presentation, he argued that organisms that live in our intestines can affect our behaviour in various areas of life, for example, make a firm believer in healthy eating desire a hot dog.

The competition presentations were evaluated by astrophysicist – Prof. Marek Abramowicz; biologist – Prof. Ewa Bartnik; journalist and promoter of science and the Program Director of the Copernicus Science Centre – Irena Cieślińska; physicist – Prof. Arkadiusz Orłowski; media expert, rhetoric specialist – Dr. Jacek Wasilewski.

FameLab was created in 2005 in the UK by the organizers of Cheltenham Festivals. Two years later, the British Council joined the project. Today, editions of the competition are held in 31 countries around the world: in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Since the beginning (2011), the Polish edition is co-organized by the Copernicus Science Centre.

The winners of the previous Polish editions of FameLab successfully competed in the international finals. In the world finals, Dr. Monika Koperska took second place and won the audience award. Joanna Bagniewska also made it to the world top ten, earning recognition of contestants from previous years who awarded her their prize. ℗

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Doctor Karolina Nowak won the fifth edition of FameLab