Which walls will be the next to fall? On the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on 9 November, 20 leading international researchers will propose answers to this question at the annual Falling Walls Conference in Berlin. A list of the speakers confirmed so far is available at https://falling-walls.com/conference/speakers-2018
The stars attending this year’s conference include the American researcher Kevin Esvelt, director of the Sculpting Evolution Group at the MIT Media Lab. Kevin is both an expert in genetic engineering as well as a trailblazer when it comes to scientific transparency and ethical research. The gene drives he works on have the capability of introducing long-lasting, fundamental changes into the ecosystems they are implemented in because they can change an entire species’ genetic code. Aware of the enormous power of his discovery, he has become one of the most prominent advocates for a new transparent science system that includes all parts of society.
Daniela Schiller is a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Through a series of ground-breaking experiments, the Israeli researcher proved that negative emotions, such as fear, grief and trauma, can be disconnected from the memory that triggers them. This changes the general understanding of memory as immutable. Her research has shown that memory is something that can be recreated – giving millions of people who have experienced traumatic events the hope of coming to terms with their past.
Veena Sahajwalla is the director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Australia. A materials scientists and engineer, she works towards a revolution in recycling science to unlock the valuable resources in complex and toxic waste found in landfills. By developing micro-factories or „urban mines“ that recover precious materials from waste such as old laptops or car tyres, and by locating these factories in the domain of towns and communities, Veena wants to bridge the gap between waste production and manufacturing.
The first Falling Walls Conference took place in 2009 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the event has since become a highly respected platform for top research and forward thinking from around the world. The Conference is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Berlin Senate, as well as by numerous scientific institutions, foundations and companies. On the day before the Falling Walls Conference, on 8 November, the Falling Walls Foundation hosts the Falling Walls Lab, an event for aspiring scientists and innovators, as well as Falling Walls Venture, a competition for science-based start-ups.