[Q&A] Malaysia’s Best Science Communicator on Communicating Science

Atteleth Don, FameLab Malaysia 2020 Champion (Photo: MIGHT)

Science Media Centre Malaysia spoke to Atteleth Don, the winner of FameLab Malaysia National Final 2020 Championship recently on his win and what it takes to communicate science effectively. Don beat 11 other science communicators from across the country with his winning talk ‘Save our Homes by Saving our Mangroves.’ He will be representing Malaysia at the FameLab International 2020 in Cheltenham, the United Kingdom in October.


Tell us a little bit about your experience participating and winning the recent Malaysian FameLab National 2020?

I have joined FameLab Malaysia since 2017 as a finalist too. Even though I didn’t manage to join in 2018 and 2019, but I have been following its development and learning from the winners. Learning from their presentation and communication skills were probably the reason I won this year. It was truly a learning process for me. 

Why did you pick the topic on mangroves? Why are they important? 

Other than being my master’s research, I think mangrove is one of the most underrated and discriminated ecosystems. It does not appeal to our senses because of the smell, inconvenience and appearance. But the science have proven it significance in relation to it environmental, social and economic expects. Saving coastal infrastructures and communities too,

What is your current area of research and what is your plan post-Famelab?

I graduated with a master’s research degree in Oceanography in 2019. Ever since then, I have been looking into communication and public engagement. I really want to bring the science out to the people and hopefully provide at least a change in perspective related to environmental conservation and protection.

Why do you think is important to communicate science? Currently, do you think enough is being done in Malaysia? 

Communication if the very first step before any real change happens. With the right communication, we could trigger action that could change people lives, protect communities and improve our environment. With current world challenges, science communication could help provide answers and explains what is happening and why it is happening. I believe Science communication is gaining its momentum in Malaysia. Just need a little more push and support.

Tip for researchers out there to communicate their areas of expertise? Any advice to those who would like to participate in the next Famelab Championship? 

I would say focus on the audience, and how the science can provide value to the audience. Present your science that also brings out the best of you and your personality. Don’t do something that does not comes natural to you.

What is your strategy on winning the FameLab International 2020 in Cheltenham? 

Just 3 strategies actually: 1. Understanding who I am and my personality as a presenter and communicator, and what comes natural to me. 2 Listen and observe previous Malaysian Champions. See what makes them special in their own way. Their presentation structure and engagement. 3 Practice, Practice Practice. But the most obvious is to make sure that you know your science well too.

The Science Media Centre Malaysia would like to congratulate Atteleth Don and we wish him the best of luck at the FameLab International 2020 in Cheltenham!

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