Falling Walls Lab 2023

Three minutes was all it took!

DWIH San Francisco was again delighted to host the Falling Walls Lab, a world-class pitch competition and networking forum for students, researchers, and early-career scientists of all disciplines. This year, we received twenty applications from participants around the country, and invited twelve finalists to pitch their innovative ideas. Finalists were judged based on three categories: which demonstrated a breakthrough that creates a positive impact on science and society.

Our Lab took place at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), a U.S. Department of Energy-funded research and development center in Menlo Park, California.

We invited six jury members to assess the pitches and select three winners. The first-place winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip, sponsored by EURAXESS, to participate in the Berlin Science Week in November of this year.

Teena Bajaj (credit Barak Shrama)

Our first place winner, Teena Bajaj, is investigating how proteins involved in the replication and infection of SARS-CoV-2 could be targeted to develop anti-viral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. Particularly, she has identified two proteins, Papain-like protease (PLpro) and Non-structural protein 15 (Nsp15) from SARS-CoV-2, which are essential for viral replication and evading the host immune response. She is a PhD student in Comparative Biochemistry at UC Berkeley.

Mohit Dubey (credit Barak Shrama)

Our second place winner, Mohit Dubey, is the founder ofe is pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley.

Vasu Macherla (credit Barak Shrama)

Our third place winner, Vasu Macherla, is a senior studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. She is tackling the devastating avian flu by creating a chicken feed that harnesses a potent, plant-based, cost-efficient antiviral protein.

The international network of Falling Walls Labs includes renowned academic institutions from over 60 countries. The ETH Zürich, National University of Singapore, and University of Cape Town are only a few of the universities that have recently participated in the Falling Walls Lab program. Falling Walls Lab is organized by the Falling Walls Foundation and generously funded by Berlin’s Natural History Museum (global finale), and Google and Huawei (international Labs). It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Learn more about the project: https://falling-walls.com/lab/