'Viruses are strange creatures in that they are not exactly living organisms and not exactly non-living organisms either.' Photo by Novartis AG on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

'Viruses are strange creatures in that they are not exactly living organisms and not exactly non-living organisms either.' Photo by Novartis AG on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

'Viruses are strange creatures in that they are not exactly living organisms and not exactly non-living organisms either.' Photo by Novartis AG on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

What exactly is a virus and how does it behave in the human body? Raven Motsewabangwe, winner of FameLab in South Africa - a competition to find new voices of science across the world - will join the international final in Cheltenham in early June 2014. Here, he gives a summary of his winning presentation, which compares viral infections to alien invasions.

Scientists have found that smiling creates a happiness feedback loop in our brains (image courtesy Mat Wright)

Scientists have found that smiling creates a happiness feedback loop in our brains (image courtesy Mat Wright)

Scientists have found that smiling creates a happiness feedback loop in our brains (image courtesy Mat Wright)

Ding Li is the winner of FameLab in Hong Kong, a competition designed to discover the world's most talented young science communicators. She will join the international final in Cheltenham in early June 2014. Here, she explains her winning presentation on the science of smiling.

Stem cells (green) could be used to treat some of the world's most dreadful diseases. Photo by UC Irvine under Creative Commons licence.

Stem cells (green) could be used to treat some of the world's most dreadful diseases. Photo by UC Irvine under Creative Commons licence.

Stem cells (green) could be used to treat some of the world's most dreadful diseases. Photo by UC Irvine under Creative Commons licence.

A cure for Parkinson's disease is yet to be found. However, Hannah Churchill of Parkinson’s UK is optimistic as she returns from the second BIRAX (Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership) conference for regenerative medicine, which took place at the Technion in Haifa on 25-26 March.

'Students need to be awed by the wonders of science so that they will consider becoming the next generation of scientists and innovators.' Photo by Jon on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

'Students need to be awed by the wonders of science so that they will consider becoming the next generation of scientists and innovators.' Photo by Jon on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

'Students need to be awed by the wonders of science so that they will consider becoming the next generation of scientists and innovators.' Photo by Jon on Flickr under Creative Commons licence.

Although most people would not dispute the importance of investing in scientific research, they may fail to recognise the effects of relating that research well. The Science Alive festival at the Hong Kong Science Museum on 8–21 March emphasises the value of science communication. The British Council's Sophia Chan-Combrink explains.

'The challenge is not always related to size as it is to our ability to make sense of the available data.' Photo by Adrian S Jones, Creative Commons licence.

'The challenge is not always related to size as it is to our ability to make sense of the available data.' Photo by Adrian S Jones, Creative Commons licence.

'The challenge is not always related to size as it is to our ability to make sense of the available data.' Photo by Adrian S Jones, Creative Commons licence.

Every year, we generate greater amounts of data. This presents opportunities and risks for businesses, public services and citizens. Dr Abdelaziz Berrado (Ecole Mohammadia d'Ingenieurs, Rabat, Morocco) gives us an update on big data and data science while academics and others discuss the topic at the UK-Morocco big data workshop, Imperial College London, 17-19