Falling Walls Lab San Francisco 2024

Three minutes was all it took!

DWIH San Francisco was delighted, for the third iteration, 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 fourteen finalists to pitch their innovative ideas. Finalists were judged based on three categories demonstrating a breakthrough that has a positive impact on science and society.

Our Lab took place at the Exploratorium; we invited six jury members to assess the pitches and select three winners. The first-place winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to participate in the Berlin Science Week in November 2024.

Our first place winner was Alexa Zytnick, who is breaking the wall of sustainable mineral mining. Her project involves studying the bacterium M. extorquens AM1’s response to complex rare earth element sources like electronic waste and identifying key genes essential for its use of rare earth elements. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, with research focuses in biometallurgy and lanthanide biochemistry at UC Berkeley.

Our second place winner was Mia Wesselkamper, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley who is developing a compostable adhesives. PLU stickers are the new age equivalent of plastic straws — a symbol of the significant environmental challenges posed by seemingly inconsequential items.e is pursuing a dual degree in Bioengineering and Business Administration through the M.E.T. program at UC Berkeley

Our third place winner, Toby Kreiman, is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley. His presentation, Breaking the Wall of Science for AI & AI for Science, incorporates ideas from physics, like differential equations, into AI models that stably simulate molecules. The next steps will further build a unified theory of physics and AI that will allow us to tackle challenging scientific problems that will revolutionize society for the better.

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/