By Elsher Lawson-Boyd
Each year, the Falling Walls Foundation – a non-profit body based in Berlin that fosters innovation in the science and humanities – supports organisations around the world to host a lab. This forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals. In 2018, more than 3000 applications were submitted for 77 Falling Walls Labs that took place in 57 countries worldwide. Falling Walls Lab Melbourne was hosted by the Science and Society Network on the 22nd August at Deakin Downtown.
In response to the Lab’s core question ‘which walls will fall next?’ sixteen participants presented a speedy three-minute talk on topics ranging from chronic disease, concrete construction and solar power to sports inequality, virtual reality and gender diversity. In essence, each participant set out to describe a complex problem and their innovative solution.
The day’s winners were Elena K. Schneider-Futschik (University of Melbourne – first place), Isabella Bower (Deakin University – second place) and Brian Haskins and Arka Ghosh (Monash University and Deakin University respectfully – tied in third place). In Elena’s talk she drew from her fascinating research on cystic fibrosis; Isabella proposed a multidisciplinary approach to researching the relations between built environments and emotion; Brian emphasised the need for public CPR education; and Arka gave an intriguing insight into his research on digital concrete sensors.
The top four competitors will go on to compete in the National final Falling Walls Lab on the 3rd of September. The first place winner will also receive an exclusive science communication mentorship award winning Nature Research editor and science communicator Sara Phillips. We were lucky enough to have a jury panel packed to the brim with esteemed academics and professionals including Professor Emma Kowal, Kath Rowley, Professor Calum Drummond, Professor Brendan Gleeson, Dr. Timothy Neale, Dr. Leonard Hoon and Professor Sarah Pink (who unfortunately could not attend on the day).
A selection of the day’s Tweets: