Merryn Fraser from the Australian National University is the winner of the seventh Falling Walls Lab Australia event, hosted online by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra, DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service and EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand.
Merryn’s work explores the biology of Plasmodium parasites which cause malaria, using modified cholesterol molecules to sneak antimalarial drugs past the parasite’s defences.
Second place went to Clara Jiang from the University of Queensland, whose idea of repurposing drugs which share similar gene expression fingerprints, like statins and anti-depressants, could save time and money.
Mars Buttfield-Addison from the University of Tasmania took third place, with her idea of using existing sensors such as astronomical radio telescopes to track space debris.
The three Australian winners will represent Australia in the hybrid Falling Walls Conference 2022 alongside the other 97 global winners, and the top 10 global finalists will compete in the Falling Walls Pitches on 7 November in the Emerging Talents category.
The question of every Falling Walls Lab is: Which walls will fall next?
Each participant had three minutes to highlight their research work, business model or unique initiative to the jury of distinguished academics and industry representatives chaired by Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish.
The ten contestants presenting at the Australian finale event were selected in heats held at Falling Walls Lab Sydney, organised by DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service and EURAXESS, and Falling Walls Lab Brisbane, organised by the Queensland University of Technology.
The ten finalists who presented their break-through ideas:
The event organising partners are grateful for the involvement of the jury members for Falling Walls Lab Australia:
Each year, the Falling Walls Foundation supports scientific organisations around the world to host a Falling Walls Lab. This international forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals known for their excellent work.
Each year, nearly 100 international Labs are held with more than 1000 presenters, 100 of whom make it to the final in Berlin.
In 2019, Australian researcher Rhys Pirie took out first place at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin and was named 2019 Young Innovator of the Year. Read more about his success and a follow-up interview six months after winning the competition.
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.
© 2022 Australian Academy of Science