MSCA Falling Walls Lab
The aim of the Falling Walls Lab is to foster scientific and entrepreneurial innovation, and to promote the cross-discipline exchanges between outstanding, emerging scholars and professionals. The MSCA Falling Walls Lab gathered 20 MSCA fellows from across a huge array of scientific disciplines, with each fellow given the opportunity to pitch their research topic, innovative project or idea. During the conference, the researchers showcased their discoveries – creating a positive impact on science and society in front of both their peers and a distinguished jury from academia and business. In addition to the jury prize, the fellows were also competing for the audience award.
The videos of the pitches of all fellows can be found below.
We would once again like to warmly congratulate the winners!
Breaking the Wall of Therapeutic Nanoparticles
Dr. Aurélie Lacroix joined Sixfold Bioscience as a Marie Curie fellow in 2020. The young start-up, based in London, develops drug delivery systems for cancer therapies. Prior to joining Sixfold, Aurélie completed her PhD at McGill U. with Prof. Sleiman. There, she studied the fate of DNA nanoparticles in biological conditions. In other words, Aurélie constructed DNA cubes and looked at their interaction with proteins, enzymes and cells, and how to tune them chemically for more efficient therapies. She holds a MSc in Chemistry and a MRes in medicinal biochemistry. Aurélie loves discussing science to the public. She completed a science communication degree in 2019, took part of the 3 mins thesis competition, and worked with Pint of Science. Finally, Aurélie loves dancing to jazzy songs, as a swing dancer. She also spends time in finding the best places to eat around her! All-time favorite? A wood-fired pizza!
Breaking the Wall of the Personalized Vaccine
My name is Xiaomeng Hu. I am a Ph.D. student currently working on a vaccine project in the Laboratory of Biomaterials for Immunoengineering (LBI), EPFL.
I got a master’s degree in pharmaceutics at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. My master thesis project is developing the self-adjuvant nanovaccine based on zinc phosphate to fight against cancer. Then I spent one and half years to investigate the applications of exosome in cancer vaccine and treatment for the inflammatory disease at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. After that, I got the opportunity to start working on a pharmaceutical project to develop the carrier-free vaccine for personalized treatment at EPFL, supported by the EPFLinnovators programme.
3rd Place & Audience Prize
Breaking the Wall of Energy Poverty
I’m Luigi Bottecchia, a MSCA PhD student at Eurac Research (Bolzano, IT) and Technical University of Wien (Wien, AT) with an MSc in Sustainable Energy at the Technical University of Denmark (Copenhagen, DK). I’m almost 27, I’m an energy enthusiast, an open science supporter and I’m becoming a bit of a nerd. My focus is on modelling of energy system, feasibility assessment and GIS analysis. I believe that with these tools it is possible to perform analyses to plan future energy systems and to support legislators on their decision making process. Besides that I’m a freelance photographer and a huge sports lover. My philosophy is: best ideas can arrive while having a bike ride or a run. If you don’t find me on my desk I’m probably out on my bike discovering the world and refreshing my mind.
Breaking the Wall of Collaboration with Serious Games
Margaret Armstrong is a PhD researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) studying the effect of extreme climatic events on freshwater lake ecosystems with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions MANTEL ITN. Her research is combining interdisciplinary theories and methodologies to assess lake functions from a holistic perspective and to inform lake management decision-making processes. Collaboration with a wide range of partners from science and society has driven her line of research aiming at bridging the divide between science and management. At Falling Walls, Margaret will present her co-created serious game “Flipping Lakes” and the role that gamification plays in intersectoral collaborations.
Cristina Blanco Sío-López
Breaking the Wall of Human Mobility Rights
Dr. Cristina Blanco Sío-López is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow and PI of the project ‘Navigating Schengen: Historical Challenges and Potentialities of the EU’s Free Movement of Persons, 1985-2015’ (NAVSCHEN) at the European Studies Center (ESC) of the University of Pittsburgh and at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. She previously was Assistant Professor in ‘European Culture and Politics’ at the University of Groningen and ‘Santander’ Senior Fellow in European Studies at the European Studies Centre (ESC) of the University of Oxford. She is a Member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) and of the Spanish Young Academy, as well as Chair of the North America Chapter of the Marie Curie Alumni Association. She obtained her PhD in History and Civilization at the EUI.
Breaking the Wall of Vaccine Hesitancy
Dino Carpentras is a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Limerick, Ireland. His current work focuses on how to use mathematical and computational models for studying vaccine hesitancy. This topic has become even more relevant due to the current pandemic and the possibility of solving it though vaccination. During his previous experience, Dino has issued a worldwide patent and published in high impact journals, such as Nature Photonics (IF=31). For his projects he has secured almost 1 million US dollars and has presented several times at international conferences, such as in Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo. During his spare time, he likes hiking with his wife and his cat.
Breaking the Wall of CO2 Emissions in the EU
S. Carrasco (PhD in Chemistry, 2016) has developed his career mainly at Complutense University of Madrid (molecularly imprinted polymers-MIPs for sensing) and Stockholm University (metal-organic frameworks-MOFs for catalysis). He has organized different R&D activities (Science Week in Madrid), has written international project proposals with successful results, has supervised BSc, MSc and PhD students, has contributed to a broad variety of journals, book chapters and seminars and has participated as a member in different panels of experts (project evaluation and editorial/reviewer boards). He is currently working at University Rey Juan Carlos and IMDEA-Energy (Madrid) as a MSCA-COFUND fellow of the program GOT Energy Talent, developing porous polymers for CO2 capture and conversion.
Breaking the Wall of of Early Cancer Diagnosis
Dr Manish Chauhan is a Marie Curie Fellow at the STORM Lab in the School of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds. Dr Manish has been actively involved in research at the National Centre for Robotic Engineering and Applications, where he is focussing on Medical Robotics. Dr Chauhan has been involved in engineering research and applications of the Bellowscope and The LapPack platforms, which are two novel examples emerging in the area of Medical Robotics. He is involved in development of fibre optic based diagnostic tool for early detection of stomach cancer, where he is exploring interdisciplinary areas involving quantum physics, microbiology and robotics. Manish is also supporting PhD and Master of Engineering research project students, which is offering him a wealth of experience in the area of training and supervision of young researchers. With his academic qualification and experience, he foresees to create opportunities in the field of Fibre and magneto-optic robotic endoscopy.
Breaking the Wall of Digital Well-Being
Matthew J. Dennis is a philosopher of technology, whose work focuses on the ethics of digital well-being. He is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the Department of Values, Technology, and Innovation at TU Delft. Prior to this he was an Early Career Research Fellow in Innovation at Institute for Advanced Study, University of Warwick, where he completed his PhD. He specialises in how technology can increase human flourishing, as well as writing on the ethics of emerging technologies. Recently, he has published articles on how online technologies can actively improve the digital well-being of their users. He is currently writing on how we can better incorporate intercultural perspectives on this topic.
Ana Sofia Fajardo
Breaking the Wall of Clean Water
Ana S. Fajardo is a Marie-Curie postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University and CNRS/Sorbonne Université. She holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Coimbra (2017). She has an international and multidisciplinary research background in materials science and environmental engineering obtained from the research groups she worked with in Brazil, Portugal and the USA. Her research focuses on the sustainable management within the water-energy nexus at an applied science angle. The research projects in which she is working seek off-grid approaches using electrochemically-driven processes to solve environmental challenges. Her contribution to the advancement of environmental electrochemistry resulted in 18 articles published with an h = 10.
Breaking the Wall of Prosthetic Intercellular Communication
I consider myself as a very creative, motivated, hardworking and passionate about science. My scientific interests are focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders and the influence of the environment on the physiological processes and its consequences on the development of diseases. After finishing my Biology degree in Venezuela, I was prompted to pursue a Master study in Germany in Molecular Cell Biology and Neurobiology and later continue my scientific career as a PhD student at the University of Kiel. Currently, at the Institute of Photonic Science, I am working on developing alternative imaging tools via the use of bioluminescence proteins and generate prosthetic pathways to circumvent miscommunication events observed in various diseases.
Breaking the Wall of Nationalist Cyber-Warfare
Dr. Thanos Koulos holds a BA in Political Science (University of Cyprus), an MSc in Nationalism and Ethnicity (London School of Economics and Political Science) and a PhD in Sociology (University of Cyprus). He is currently a LEaDing Fellow at a Marie Curie Cofund program at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. His project examines the nationalization of cyber-space and nationalism-driven cyber-attacks. His research interests focus on the nationalization of space process, the role of trauma in national identity formation, ethnic symbolism and mythology, the spatial dimension of national identities and nationalism and the internet.
Breaking the Wall of Untapped Potential of Deaf Math Learners
After her studies of mathematics and physics, Christina Krause concluded her PhD in mathematics education at the University of Bremen in 2015 with a project on the role of gestures in students’ collaborative processes of solving mathematical problems. That’s when she first developed an interest in how using sign languages might influence how Deaf students learn and understand mathematical ideas. She started her project DeafMath during her first postdoc at the University of Duisburg-Essen, leading to her project SignEd|Math, which she currently conducts in the context of her MSC fellowship at the Embodied Design Research Lab at the University of California at Berkeley. She loves when her son teaches her about the little wonders of every day. She kind of loves rollercoasters.
Breaking the Wall of Crisis through Collaboration
Lucia Mesquita is a Ph.D. candidate at the Dublin City University’s School of Communications and Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo), within the JOLT Project, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020. Lucia will be investigating the changing political economy of digital journalism and its impact on the plurality and the civic role of journalism. Before joining DCU, she was an MA student at the School of Social and Political Sciences (ISCSP), University of Lisbon. She was also a journalist, having graduated from Universidade Metodista de São Paulo (Brazil) in 2001.
Breaking the Wall of Batteries for Electric Vehicles
Adriana Navarro-Suarez is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie individual fellow at Imperial College London. Her current research is on the development of multifunctional hierarchically structured systems that can carry mechanical loads as well as store electrochemical energy, making possible the fabrication of light devices with high energy and power densities. For the past ten years, Adriana has been focused on the development and characterisation of new materials for energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors. She is a Colombian chemist and a MESC alumna who has previously developed her research at CIC energiGUNE (Spain), Drexel Nanomaterials Institute (USA), and Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden).
Breaking the Wall of Desertification
Dr. Pietracaprina is a Marie Sklodowska Curie individual research fellow at Trinity College Dublin. She has a research background in statistical, quantum and computational physics and experience in technology transfer, specifically in environmental sustainability topics. After her doctoral degree from SISSA in Trieste (IT), she continued her research in quantum and classical disordered systems at top EU institutions – Sapienza University (Rome, IT) and CNRS-LPT Toulouse (FR) – before joining the QuSys group in Dublin. She obtained 300+ k€ in grant funding for her research and technology transfer activities and 2 million+ hours on tier 1 supercomputers. She won awards for public talks, grant writing and tech transfer and delivered 30+ presentations at conferences, of which 10+ were invited.
Breaking the Wall of Urban Innovation Ecosystem
Pasquale Pizzimenti, Urban Planner, is a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow at the CLUDs Laboratory for the ZES Project (H2020-MSCA Individual Fellowship) – PAU Department, Università Mediterranea of Reggio Calabria. As post-doc fellow in urban and regional planning, at the Cludslab he carried on research activities on the urban regeneration and economic development topics thanks to his involvement in EU-funded Research Projects (7FP, Horizon 2020). His current research activities, performed within the ZES project, cast the light on urban innovation ecosystems as a way to support EU cities in the activation of urban innovation dynamics through effective urban governance mechanisms.
Breaking the Wall of Actionable Climate Intelligence
Jamal Toutouh is a postdoctoral MSCA GF fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) and the University of Malaga (Spain). He obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering at the last university with the highest mark (Summa Cum Laude). His Ph.D. dissertation focused on the use of Nature-inspired Machine Learning algorithms to address Smart Cities problems and it was awarded the Best Spanish Ph.D. Thesis in Smart Cities 2018. Nowadays, he is working on designing new Machine/Deep Learning methods by incorporating concepts from Nature. He is devising new forecasting and generative models that will allow recreating complex physic phenomena. These methods are applied to Smart Energy Management, Air Quality Modelling, and phenomena related to Climate Change to provide accurate predictions.
Breaking the Wall of the Waste Heat
Dr Vanira Trifiletti earned the MS degree in Material Science from University of Milano Bicocca (2011), where she worked as a research assistant until 2013 when she started the PhD. It was developed at IIT Research Centre for Bio-Molecular Nanotechnology and CNR-Nanotec, under the patronage of University of Salento. Then research fellow at University of Milano Bicocca at the Materials Science Department until early 2019. Since then, she is Marie Skłodowska Curie Action fellow at School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London. Main current scientific interests include nanostructured-materials for renewable energy applications, materials for hybrid photovoltaics and thermoelectrics, device design and development, sol-gel synthesis, chemical-physical analysis.
Muhammad Aammar Tufail
Breaking the Wall of Global Hunger
Muhammad is a researcher in MSCA-ITN project INTERFUTURE. For the past nine years, he has studied bacteria-plant-soil interactions to increase agricultural production under abiotic stresses (salinity and drought). In his early childhood, Muhammad took part as a volunteer at a family-owned garden which led him to have a passion for plants and an on-going interest in agricultural microbiology. He completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pakistan. Currently, he is designing an efficient delivery strategy for bacterial bio-stimulants, using more robust plant growth-promoting endophytic bacteria. He won several awards in photography and videography. His main goal is to minimize the chemical use in our soils and feed our next generations with smiles by giving them healthy soils.
Maria da Graça Carvalho
Member of the European Parliament
Chair of the Jury, Director General, DG EAC, European Commission
© TU Munich/Astrid Eckert
Director of the Walther-Meißner-Institute of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
© BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel
Head of Unit “Sustainable Economy, Bio-Economy”, Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany
Dr. Emmanuel Salifu
Winner of the Falling Walls Lab MSCA 2019, Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde
Mostafa Moonir Shawrav
MCAA, Chair of the Executive Committee
Director of Communications, European University Association