Falling Walls Conference 2019


The Falling Walls Conference is an annual global gathering of forward thinking individuals organised by the Falling Walls Foundation. Each year on 9 November – the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – 20 of the world’s leading scientists are invited to Berlin to present their breakthrough research answering the question: Which are the next walls to fall? In 2019, the conference will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Falling Walls Conference also provides a platform for researchers and guests to connect with each other and promotes interdisciplinary global collaboration. The conference is a great place to identify trends and opportunities to global challenges by building bridges through different disciplines, nations and ultimately inspiring all of us to cross the gap between science and society. This year’s selection of speakers is as diverse as ever, covering topics ranging from cultured meat to political activism.


Tania Bruguera
Hannah Arendt International Institute of Artivism, Havana
Art and Political Activism

Tania Bruguera is an internationally acclaimed Cuban artist, whose politically motivated installations and performances engage the audience as active participants rather than spectators. She proposes practical solutions to sociopolitical problems through an approach she calls arte útil (useful art) and her research focuses on how art can effect social change and teach civic responsibility in the face of oppression. Alongside works examining the social implications of political and economic power, Tania has also developed more long-term projects, such as setting up an institute in Havana which offers residencies for international artists that combine their artistic work with political activism.

© Courtesy of Estudio Bruguera / Photographed by Claudio Fuentes

Dabo Guan

University of East Anglia
Climate Change Economics 

 Dabo Guan is a Chair Professor in Climate Change Economics at the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia. He specialises in environmental economics for international climate change mitigation and adaptation in both developed and developing countries. He was a Lead Author for the Working Group III of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).Dabo’s special expertise in the driving forces behind environmental and economic policies in China makes him particularly well placed to act as a bridge between the interests and sustainability efforts of both China and Western countries. 

Dabo Guan

Maryanne Wolf
University of California, Los Angeles
Neuroscience and Developmental Psycholinguistics

Maryanne Wolf is the Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. An internationally renowned cognitive neuroscientist and dyslexia specialist, her research and writing revolve around global literacy and the effects of the digital age on our reading abilities. Maryanne’s work explores the decline of deep-reading skills in today’s society and proposes policies as well as solutions for parents and educators to improve the reading skills of children in various age groups. As member of an influential global literacy initiative, she also strives to reduce world poverty by bringing literacy to as many children as possible.

Maryanne Wolf

Grégoire Courtine

Grégoire Courtine is Associate Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), where he holds the International Paraplegic Foundation (IRP) chair in spinal cord repair at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and the Brain Mind Institute.Together with his team, Grégoire creates innovative technologies and interventions to restore motor functions after central nervous system disorders like paraplegia. Grégoire and his collaborators recently made groundbreaking progress in designing the precise electrical stimulation of the spinal cord via a wireless implant, mimicking how the brain would operate in a healthy person and thus enabling people with spinal cord damages to walk again.

Courtine Grégoire

Segenet Kelemu
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi
Molecular Plant Pathology

Segenet Kelemu is the Director General and CEO of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya. After several years applying cutting-edge bioscience in the US and Latin America, Segenet returned to Africa in 2007 to contribute to the continent’s development. As a molecular plant pathologist with first-hand experience of the challenges and successes associated with African agriculture, she focuses on developing innovative and accessible solutions to problems caused by insects and plant disease, including genetic engineering and biopesticides. Within the framework of icipe she strives to tackle the interlinked problems of poverty, poor health, low agricultural productivity and environmental degradation.

Segenet Kelemu

The event on 9 November will be broadcasted via a freely available livestream. All previous talks are available on

Leyla Takayama – Falling Walls Conference. Berlin, 09.11.2018. Copyright: Florian Gaertner/ photothek/ Falling Walls

Make sure to mark your calendar for November 8 and 9 for the upcoming Falling Walls Conference in 2019. Beyond the Falling Walls conference, the Berlin Science Week offers many exhibitions, talks and events before and after the Conference worth visiting. As one of the speaker said: ‘Earth is our home but only for a while.’ Let’s learn about its marvels while we are here!

further information regarding the event can be found at the
Falling Walls Website


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