Mogotladi Letago Kgomoeswana North-West University (NWU) master’s student has been announced as the winner of the 2021 national FameLab® competition – the biggest global science communication competitions.
FameLab® promotes science and technology by providing a platform for young and budding scientists to ‘find their voices’ and reach public audiences. The initiative is part of the department of science and technology’s ‘science engagement framework’ whose aim is to develop science communication and make science accessible to ordinary members of the public.
FameLab® also benefits the participants by enhancing their communication and presentation skills through competition and training; they also get to network with their counterparts from diverse disciplines locally and internationally. Miss Kgomoeswana is currently pursuing an MSc degree in geography which focuses on the impact of climate change on smallholder farmers in Limpopo and also working at the centre for teaching and learning at NWU in post-graduate research support. She says she has always wanted to be a natural scientist, adding she fell in love with geography and life sciences in high school. Her mother works at the department of agriculture while her grandfather is a farmer and she tries to integrate their collective indigenous knowledge into all her research.
Climate change policy
Says Miss Kgomoeswana: “My research has opened up a whole new world to me. It helped me to meet individuals in STEM who have played a big role in my personal growth, and has now also given me the opportunity to represent South African science on the global stage.” She says she would also use the FameLab® to call for the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in climate change policy. Tapping into the indigenous knowledge of local communities is very vital in shaping discussions and informing climate change policies for a sustainable future, she says.
Growing female representations
Miss Kgomoeswana says she is encouraged by the growing number of female academics, particularly young black women scientist, who are changing the face of science faculties across South African universities in recent years. “Young female academics are chasing MSc degrees and PhDs and adding to the world of STEM through research, conferences, papers and books. It is so motivating when as a researcher, I am able to reference an article authored by a young female Dr of science”, adding that this has not been a reality for a long time.
She will represent the NWU and South Africa at the International FameLab® 2021 semi-final events that will be live-streamed on 10 and 11 November. The international online final will take place on 25 November 2021.