Teesside University PhD Student Wins Regional Science Competition

Zoë Bell, a PhD student at Teesside University, wins the North East regional heat of FameLab UK with her project on using microscopic organisms to break down plastic waste. She will progress to the national competition at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June.

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Teesside University PhD Student Wins Regional Science Competition

Teesside University PhD Student Wins Regional Science Competition

Zoë Bell, a PhD student at Teesside University, has been named the winner of the North East regional heat of FameLab UK, a prestigious competition that showcases the best new voices in science, technology, and engineering. Bell's winning project explores an innovative solution to the global plastic waste problem by harnessing the power of microscopic living organisms to consume and break down plastic as an alternative to traditional landfill and recycling methods.

Why this matters: The global plastic waste problem is a pressing environmental issue that requires innovative solutions, and Bell's research offers a promising approach to addressing this crisis. As the world struggles to find effective ways to reduce plastic waste, breakthroughs like this could have a significant impact on the health of our planet and its ecosystems.

The regional competition, hosted at Teesside University, featured 12 talented researchers presenting their groundbreaking work to the public and a panel of judges within a strict three-minute time limit. Bell, who is currently completing her PhD at the University's National Horizons Centre, impressed the judges with her engaging presentation and the potential impact of her research.

Reflecting on her experience, Bell shared, "I was encouraged to submit a video entry, which in itself was a bit daunting, as it took me out of my comfort zone. I didn't think I would even make it through to the next round of in-person presentations at the regionals." She added, "Giving the presentation itself is all a bit of a blur, so it was a massive surprise to realise I had won. The penny only dropped when the judges starting talking about my project as they announced the winner."

As the regional winner, Bell will progress to the national FameLab UK competition, set to take place at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June. There, she will have the opportunity to compete against other top researchers from across the country for the title of Britain's best science communicator. The national winner will then go on to represent the UK at the FameLab International live online final, facing off against the brightest scientific minds from around the world.

Steph Bales, Director of Research and Enterprise at Teesside University, expressed the institution's pride in hosting the competition and Bell's achievement, stating, "We were delighted that Teesside University was selected as a regional partner to host this competition... We were also overjoyed to see Zoë, who is one of our own researchers, achieve regional success and secure her spot in the final."

Originally from Ashington in Northumberland, Bell balances her PhD studies with part-time roles as a research technician, special lecturer, and warden in the University's student accommodation. She is also actively involved in organizing and promoting the upcoming Pint of Science Festival, which will be held at The Forum in Darlington on 13 and 15 May.

Bell's groundbreaking research on using microscopic organisms to consume plastic waste represents a significant step forward in the search for sustainable solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis. As she prepares to compete on the national stage, her work serves as a testament to the innovative spirit and scientific excellence fostered at Teesside University.

Key Takeaways

  • Zoë Bell wins North East regional heat of FameLab UK with plastic-eating microbe research.
  • Bell's project offers innovative solution to global plastic waste problem.
  • She will compete in national FameLab UK competition at Cheltenham Science Festival.
  • Bell is a PhD student at Teesside University's National Horizons Centre.
  • Her research could have significant impact on reducing plastic waste and pollution.