Falling Walls Lab Seattle

Our first Falling Walls Lab in Seattle was a success!

DWIH San Francisco was 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 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. Congratulations to all the finalists who came out to pitch their ideas!

Our Lab took place at CoMotion, University of Washington. We invited five jury members to assess the pitches and select the winners. The first-place winner received an all-expenses-paid trip to participate in the Berlin Science Week in November 2024. The 2nd prize winner received a complimentary one-month membership to CoMotion Labs. Finally, the 3rd prize and audience award winners received gift certificates.

  • Our first place winner, Alabhya Singh, designed an “off-the-shelf” breast cancer self-screening device that is intuitive, cheap, and easy to operate in low-resource environments. The device guides the user in mapping cancerous lumps, while an ML model addresses the localization and the noise in the data.
  • In second place winner was Nicole Gunderson, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, who works in the Human Photonics Lab to develop scanning fiber endoscopes for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer using minimally invasive surgical robotics.
  • Third place went to Ruby Lai, CEO and inventor of Foss Toilets, a self-contained system that treats and recycles domestic wastewater, converting waste blackwater and grey water to clean, reusable water that can water lawns, run appliances, and flush toilets.
  • The audience award went to Carlee Toddes, a postdoctoral researcher, whose research on the neural dynamics that underlie pain-modulated social behavior seeks to understand interplay between addiction, social behavior, and pain.

Additionally, we were delighted to have the support from the German Consulate General in San Francisco, including Consul General Oliver Schramm, as we expanded our reach to Washington State. Thank you also to Ladi Carr and the Office of Global Affairs, University of Washington for the on-the-ground support!

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/


During our trip, Zahar Barth-Manzoori, Director of DWIH San Francisco and Hanni Geist, Senior Manager, University Relations at DAAD had the opportunity to promote research and study in Germany to students in the Seattle area. We visited Western Washington University and the University of Washington. Special thanks to Sandra Alfers, Professor of German at Western Washington University for letting us visit.