Laura Henderson, winner in 2022, has kindly given us some insight into how she and her project have progressed since her pitch at the Falling Walls Engage Pitches and what Falling Walls Engage means to her.

What is your project about?
Frontiers for Young Minds (FYM) is a unique, online kids’ science journal – we go beyond open access (anyone with an internet connection can access everything we publish, we have achieved 33M+ views and downloads of all our articles from 200 countries worldwide so far) to give intellectual access – making science accessible and fun to read for everybody. We do this by getting top researchers – from Nobel Prize winners to those working in the IPCC, NASA, CERN and more – to re-write their published research articles in a style for young readers, and then we empower our young readers to act as peer reviewers of every article. Guided by their Science Mentors (themselves trained scientists), the Young Reviewers edit and improve each article until they feel it is accessible and engaging for their peers aged 8-15. This unique process ensures that reliably top-quality science and cutting-edge knowledge is being published accessibly, and also actively engages a huge number of kids – 7000 Young Reviewers in 65 countries so far. They learn not only the science of the articles, but also about the research process, and how to think critically – a key skill which will benefit them all their lives.


What made you start this project and how did Falling Walls Engage, and its community contribute to the further development of your project?
Frontiers for Young Minds was launched by Frontiers at the end of 2013, and was the brainchild of our 2 Chief Editors, Prof. Robert (Bob) Knight of UC Berkeley, and Prof. Idan Segev of Hebrew University, Israel. The need for quality, accessible science was clear – the outreach program was born as part of Frontiers’ vision for open science globally. I applied on behalf of our little team to Falling Walls to try to demonstrate the unique methodology, quality and success of our journal as a science engagement project – I was delighted and humbled to become a Science Engagement winner! Being part of the Engage community and recognised as a winner has hugely boosted the visibility and credibility of our journal project, and we’re achieving new expansions and forging new connections as the project matures, including new languages (Chinese and French in 2023) to further our global reach to young readers.

Did the Falling Walls Engage format(s) facilitate the contact to other projects for collaborations? If yes, can you tell us a bit more about the collaboration and in which parts of the world they are (name of the project, country, how do you collaborate)?
Yes, we’re now working with several new contacts whom I met at the Science Summit. I met and connected with our new supporting partner, the Villars Institute (based in Switzerland, led by Dr. Lee Howell who was at the Summit), and I’m looking forward to launching a completely new sister project in partnership with the Institute. We’ve just had a successful pilot collaboration with a former Engagement overall winner project, “I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here!” (led by Shane McCracken, whom I met as a fellow Engager), as we’re working to find new opportunities for school students to participate actively online with our journal and with our top authors – Shane and I are in discussion on the next steps together. We’re also working with the world-renowned Sanger Institute and Kavli Centre for Ethics, Science and the Public, from Cambridge, UK (connected through Dr. Anna Middleton who enjoyed my pitch at the Summit), towards a co-branded article Collection showcasing some of their top research in our journal, and to be reviewed by local schools they work with as an educative programme.


Did you experience an increase in visibility and/or funding opportunities of your project through the collaboration with Falling Walls Engage? How is this noticeable?
Very much so – since the Falling Walls event, I have made other new connections too, through the various networks and based on seeing our pitch (I have the link to my Science Engagement pitch in my email signature, which really helps raise FYM’s profile when I am reaching out, and validates our credentials very quickly when applying for funding). I also particularly enjoyed remaining part of the Science Engagers network, we often promote and support each other’s activities via social media, as well as keeping each other up to date with new initiatives or breakthroughs via our communication group.

I have never felt such warmth, such inclusion and such intentional connection as we had here.

Laura Henderson

What makes Falling Walls Engage unique to you?
The Engage community, and the way it was actively facilitated by the Falling Walls team, really made this a completely unique experience, a highlight in my working life. I’ve been to conferences, trade shows and events all over the world in 18 years of working in academic publishing, but I have never felt such warmth, such inclusion and such intentional connection as we had here. The Engagers were brought together for a team-building day together just before the main Summit started – we arrived all separate and nervous, a bit competitive towards each other, unsure what to expect; then the Falling Walls team gave us a safe space with fun activities to relax, discover each others’ projects and get to know each other, and we were transformed into a collaborative, supportive group, who all cheered each other on as we made our pitches, and enjoyed each others’ successes. That continues on our various channels where we still communicate, and welcome new Engagers this year. To be part of such a diverse yet united group, with so much creativity, innovation and passion, is truly energising, and it made the Summit incredibly rewarding to be part of.


What was your most emotional experience when you think about your collaboration with Falling Walls Engage?
I think for me the most emotional moment was standing on the main stage of the Summit venue, after the final prize-giving, with my fellow Engagers, for a group photo. It felt like an incredible achievement, and one that we all shared rather than being competitors, as you might expect when we were all up for the overall prize. I was so proud of every single one of them, and of my own team, that we had all come so far in many ways to win and be there. We all felt that huge success, and a huge hope, that our collaboration with Engage had brought us, and would take us, further than we could have expected!

Laura Henderson is an experienced academic publishing professional. She has led editorial programs at Frontiers for 7+ years, moving in 2021 from managing core academic journals to leading the strategic development of the fully free, open-access, kids’ science-outreach journal, Frontiers for Young Minds (

Passionate about Open Access and publishing innovation, her 10 years’ experience prior to Frontiers included commissioning and project managing STM books within Cambridge University Press and acting as Editor-in-Chief for a digital content company.

Laura Henderson has achieved strong success in all her roles, from managing high-value corporate projects, to leading small and large teams to meet ambitious publication targets. She has spoken at many academic conferences, both local, international and virtual, to promote Open Access and to educate new researchers about the publishing process.

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