Explaining Science Through Spiderman Delivers Contest Victory

London, England, June 19, 2006 – Jonathan Wood, an Elsevier editor, was announced the winner of this year’s FameLab, beating out nearly 150 young scientists in a national competition to find the UK's best new talent in science communication.

FameLab was created to encourage scientists to bring science to life in a fun and engaging way and to inspire and excite public imagination with a vision of science in the 21st century. A panel of judges at the Cheltenham Science Festival was searching for the new faces of UK Science who will be able to develop their ideas and presentation skills for a TV audience. At the auditions, entrants had only three minutes to impress the judges by giving an entertaining and original talk that was scientifically accurate but also engaging to a non-scientific audience.

Dr. Wood’s presentation in the final began with a web-slinging Spiderman as he discussed the strength and toughness of spider silk, how spiders produce it and how ultimately humans might be able to replicate its properties. He described how a company in Canada had transferred genes for spider silk proteins into goats, who then secreted the silk proteins in their milk. Nexia Biotechnologies were able to take these proteins and spin them into strong fibers. In earlier heats, he examined hi-tech swimsuits and the use of nanotechnology in face creams. The 30 year-old Dr. Wood works for Elsevier as the Deputy Editor of Materials Today magazine, which covers the newest, most exciting advances in materials science for senior level researchers in the field. He received his PhD from the School of Biology at the University of Leeds after obtaining his Physics degree at Cambridge. 

Dr. Wood won £2,000, the opportunity to work with a television producer to pitch ideas to Channel 4 and an invitation to give presentations at British Council offices around the world. Commenting on his victory, Dr. Wood said, "I’m thrilled to have won such a prestigious contest with so many worthy entrants. For all of us, it is an opportunity to engage the public in what excites us about science – the insights and breakthroughs that give us a new glimpse of reality.”

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About FameLab

FameLab is the brainchild of the Cheltenham Science Festival and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and supported by Pfizer, Channel 4, The Daily Telegraph, Research Councils UK and The British Council.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence, and ClinicalKey — and publishes nearly 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

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