27 December 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Xolisa Mnukwa
“It is my duty to share knowledge, and to make use of my academic experiences to uncover meaningful ways in which scientists can relay scientific information to the broader public. - 2019 FameLab winner: Charissa Worthmann

Kovsie student Charissa Worthmann considers herself an absolute nerd who loves science and surrounds herself with people who inspire her. An aspiring academic, Charissa says she has a passion for research and feels it is her duty to share knowledge and uncover meaningful ways in which scientists can relay scientific information to the broader public.

It is these qualities that earned her the title of 2019 UFS FameLab winner.
The Centre for Environmental Management master’s student impressed judges at the UFS leg of the international competition, beating 20 other contestants to be announced winner. Students from the Faculties of Health Sciences, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and the Humanities took part in the competition hosted on the Bloemfontein Campus in November 2019. 

According to Charissa, science and technology are valuable to everybody exposed to it. She believes that today’s youth is the generation that will have the ability to implement transformation in our future society. 
“My ambition in life is more than achieving my personal goals; I strive to seek gaps and identify where I can make a difference, both in people and systems or structures.” 

FameLab and the significance of science and technology in our society

FameLab is an international competition designed to engage and entertain by challenging young scientists to communicate their science research to a public audience in less than three minutes. These talks by young scientists are designed to be fun and engaging, making science relevant and relatable to everyone. Charissa described her FameLab experience as quite challenging and nerve-wracking, but she wanted to make use of her discomfort and stress throughout the competition to aid her overall growth as a scientist.

Charissa’s presentation on hydraulic fracturing – an alternative way of fracking – and the impact it has on groundwater, is what earned her the win. “I believe the significance of my win is that it has showed me that my thoughts and perspectives give me power,” she explained.

“I have a passion for research and love the academic setting. I feel that a multi-disciplinary approach to research is the way forward to produce all-inclusive solutions that the ‘real world’ problems of our times need,” she explained.

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