Falling Walls announces Science Breakthrough of the Year 2023 laureates

“These outstanding breakthroughs will change the face of the world and impressively prove what ingenuity, curiosity and courage can achieve”

Falling Walls Foundation

The awardees have achieved scientific breakthroughs in food security, quantum technologies, carbon capture, gender-based violence, music and cardiovascular science, and Open Access AI

Which are the next walls to fall in science and society? The Falling Walls Foundation has announced the first six laureates of its Science Breakthrough of the Year award. The title is awarded annually and recognizes scientific breakthroughs in all academic disciplines.

“These outstanding breakthroughs will change the face of the world and impressively prove what ingenuity, curiosity and courage can achieve” says Andreas Kosmider, Managing Director of the Falling Walls Foundation. “We thank the laureates for their perseverance in continuing to break down the walls to new discoveries that will benefit all of humankind.”

The last 2023 laureates in the Science Start-Ups, Science Engagement and Emerging Talents categories will be announced at the Science Summit after the pitch competition on 7 November. The prestigious science conference, hosted by the Falling Walls Foundation since 2009, takes place annually from 7 to 9 November in Berlin and brings together the world’s leading researchers and decision-makers from business, academia, and government to highlight the potential of science in addressing the greatest challenges of our time.

The Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year 2023 recipients

  • LIFE SCIENCES: CHUAN HE – UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Breaking the Wall of Food Insecurity: Chuan He’s laboratory work on the functional roles of RNA chemical modifications in gene expression regulation aims to build resilient high-yielding crops.
  • PHYSICAL SCIENCES: LIBOR ŠMEJKAL – JOHANNES GUTENBERG UNIVERSITY MAINZ: Breaking the Wall to Magnetic Quantum Matter: By analysing all possible mathematical symmetries of the spin in magnetic crystals Libor Smejkal identified altermagnets and opened new routes toward sustainable nanoelectronics.
  • ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY: CAO THANG DINH – QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY: Breaking the Wall to Carbon Capture Technology: Cao Thang Dinh developed a novel system that integrates carbon capture and conversion in a single step, addressing the biggest challenge in carbon dioxide conversion technology — low energy efficiency.
  • SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES: PUMLA DINEO GQOLA – NELSON MANDELA UNIVERSITY: Breaking the Wall of the Female Fear Factory: Explaining how gender and fear intersect in public spaces, Pumla Gqola’s “Female Fear Factory” is a theatrical and public performance of patriarchal policing of and violence towards women and others cast/read as female.
  • ART AND SCIENCE: ELAINE CHEW – KING’S COLLEGE LONDON: Breaking the Wall to Understanding Music’s Effect on the Heart: To see the effect of music on the heart, Elaine Chew creates models to characterise and visualise performed and composed music structures linking those to physiological signals from wearable sensors.
  • SCIENCE AND INNOVATION MANAGEMENT: ROBERT KACZMARCZYK, JENIA JITSEV AND CHRISTOPH SCHUHMANN – LAION e.V., GERMANY: Breaking the Wall to the Democratization of Large-Scale AI: Christoph Schuhmann, Richard Vencu, Romain Beaumont, Robert Kaczmarczyk & Jenia Jitsev founded LAION to democratize AI research by providing open access to advanced AI models, tools, and datasets, fostering public engagement and awareness, and promoting international collaboration to create a transparent and inclusive AI ecosys

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