Saturday 16 February 2019

Young biomedical engineer is the new face of science

Pictured above: Owen Falzon receiving the prize from Martha-Marie Gauci (British Council) together with Wilfred Kenely, RIDT CEO, Ingrid Eomois (British Council)  and the other contestants of FameLab national finals

Scientist Owen Falzon was named the national winner of the FameLab competition and will represent Malta at the International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK nextg month. Supported by the British Council, FameLab is providing this young biomedical engineer with the skills to share his research with a wider audience.

Did you know that there are novel ways for analysing brain signals in order to enhance the performance of brain-computer interfaces?  Biomedical engineer Owen Falzon won the national FameLab final by explaining how this project can improve the lives of disabled people.

Owen is currently working at the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics at the University of Malta where he lectures and carries out research on the analysis and processing of biomedical signals and images.  He has recently completed his PhD studies, where he explored and developed novel ways for analysing brain signals in order to enhance the performance of brain-computer interfaces.  He is keen on transmitting his passion for science and how it can transform ideas that were once restricted to science fiction into real technologies that can improve our lives.

Communicating science accessibly and attractively is an ever-growing priority for researchers worldwide. Organised by the British Council Malta in partnership with University of Malta, Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT), and with the support of Actavis, Microsoft Innovation Centre, Vodafone, Teatru Manoel, Malta Chamber of Scientists and St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, FameLab helps young scientists acquire valuable skills to communicate their work to a non-scientific audience. By doing so, researchers not only change the common stereotype of the scientist as “the geek in the white lab coat busy doing strange things”, but also justify public funding for their research.

“FameLab aims to discover charismatic, up-and-coming scientists who inspire people to see the world from a new perspective…in just three minutes. This is directly linked to the British Council’s aim to offer young people learning opportunities, help improve the quality of education and bring together current and future leaders to tackle issues facing society,” said Martha-Marie Gauci (British Council).

This was the first time that Malta participated in FameLab. The finalists had chosen a mind-expanding selection of topics to bring under the microscope – from the brain research through molecules that light up when they detect certain chemicals like sugar to more environmentally-friendly conditions that the industry can make use of by using lower quantities of solvents and more efficient catalysts to reduce quantities of waste generated.

The three-minute presentations were judged by a panel of scientists and communication experts according to FameLab’s golden rule – the 3C’s: Content, Clarity and Charisma. The judging panel consisted of Ecologist Dr Sandro Lanfranco, writer Malcolm Galea and lecturer Dr Kenneth Scerri. One of the biggest prizes for all finalists is the opportunity to attend a science communication master class led by the best UK trainers in this area.

The FameLab Malta initiative is in line with the University’s Trust, RIDT, highlighting the value and usefulness of science and research. RIDT actively seeks additional funds to expand the University’s research studies.

The FameLab winners from all participating countries will compete in June at the International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK . FameLab is an initiative of the Cheltenham Festivals started in 2005 in partnership with NESTA and has quickly grown into arguably the world’s leading science communication competition. A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 5,000 young scientists and engineers participating in over 23 different countries. NASA has license to deliver the competition in the USA . For more information about FameLab, please visit: and



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