by Hannah Schneider
We arrived in Berlin! Alexey Yakushenko and I represented the Forschungzentrum Juelich in the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on Nov. 8. We qualified for the Lab Finale in July as International Lab winners at the Forschungzentrum Juelich.
The Falling Walls Lab Finale is a competition where the winners of more than 40 Falling Walls Labs around the world come to compete. We each had three minutes to present our breakthrough idea. I felt three minutes was not much time to present my Ph.D. research that I have been working on the last three years, but we all managed to stay on time and is part of the fun of the competition! In total, we were part of a cohort of 100 lab participants that spoke about solving problems of food waste, fuel consumption, medicine, and many other topics.
Listening to the other presenters was exiting as most of us experience the same challenges but we have very different approaches for solving them. For example, one individual was designing a tree that would naturally glow at night to light up the streets and reduce crime. Another individual was using waste hair from the hair dressers to make paper products. It was inspiring to listen to all the presentations and I was happy to be participating in the event.
Falling Walls Conference and „brain dates“
On Nov. 9, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Falling Walls Conference took place. The Falling Walls Conference is not a typical scientific conference-it is fast-paced, high-energy, and interdisciplinary. Twenty of the world’s leading scientists presented their current breakthrough research in 15-minute talks including topics on digital farming, cybersecurity, gravitational waves, and microbes just to name a few. I particularly enjoyed the presentation about brain decoding and it was a great opportunity to learn about some scientific breakthroughs that were not in my field of plant science!
During the breaks, we had the opportunity to interact and engage in discussions with both the speakers and fellow audience members. The Falling Walls also hosts a peer-learning platform, Falling Walls Connect, which allows the audience to contribute their knowledge and expertise to fellow participants through “brain dates”. Throughout the day we could schedule “brain dates” with fellow participants to share our ideas, ask questions, and engage in deeper discussions. I had the chance to have several “brain dates” with scientists from all over the world including Malaysia and the Netherlands where we discussed our research, job opportunities, and shared our impressions on the conference. In the evening, a Welcome Reception took place in the Jewish Museum where we had the opportunity to interact with conference participants and tour the museum.
Crystal growing and robotics
On Nov. 10, all international lab winners were invited by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to visit the Adlershof Campus in Berlin. There we got the opportunity to hear presentations about the German research landscape from Hemholtz, Fraunhofer, Leibniz, Max-Planck, Universities, and many others. I particularly enjoyed learning about the breadth of research in Germany and the resources that are available to both German and international scientists to conduct research. Afterwards we had the opportunity to visit specific research institutes part of the Adlershof Project including crystal growing and robotics. I particularly enjoyed learning about artificial intelligence technology to develop robots to autonomously play soccer.
Overall, it was a great experience at the Falling Walls Lab and Conference in Berlin. It is highly recommended that young researchers apply to participate next year!
Falling Walls Lab-Livestream: 100 high-potentials present their ideas in 3 minutes each to become the Falling Walls Young Innovators of the Year 2016. The two Jülich representatives present at 00:56:27 (Alexey Yakushenko) and at 06:10:50 (Hannah Schneider).