This Winners Session presents the Top 10 Breakthroughs in the Science Engagement category. These passionate ambassadors of science are reaching for the stars with projects on the universe and astrophysics, creating accessibility to these subjects for refugees, the public, and people with vision impairments. The fascination for and potential of science are brought to a diverse audience, from young people in underprivileged rural communities in India and Africa to inmates in Scottish prisons. Meanwhile, in Australia, an escape room for cancer education is educating its players on cancer prevention and therapeutics challenges, while in Germany scientists and angler communities are generating ecological knowledge to foster sustainable fisheries. Jury Chair Melanie Smallman summarises: “During 2020, the importance of science, but also the importance of breaking down the wall between science and society has never been clearer. It’s about providing information and educating people, but it’s really important as well that we listen to those people that think science isn’t for them. So we can make sure to engage with them in the future, and not leave them behind.”


We are delighted to announce the ten winners in the category Science Engagement Initiatives:


Breaking the Wall to Astronomy for the Vision-Impaired
Bonne’s outreach project is developing accessible teaching resources and workshops to make current topics in astrophysics, traditionally a visual science, accessible to young people with vision impairments.


Breaking the Wall of Engagement In Prisons
Stewart’s project brings informal science learning to the learning centres of 6 Scottish prisons and provides a platform for researchers to develop confidence and skills in engagement.


Breaking The Wall of Cancer Education
Using an escape room as a unique and innovative platform, Excite Science explains the complexities of cancer through an immersive experience, as the world’s first portable cancer biology-themed puzzle room. 


Breaking The Wall of Astronomy and The Sahrawi Refugees
The project facilitates the development of scientific skills and critical thinking through teacher workshops, hands-on activities and sky observations in local schools, contributing to the improvement of the quality of teaching in the Sahrawi refugee community.


Breaking the Wall to Energy Trapped in the Earth
In a public-space pop-up exhibition, guests are guided through interactive panels and a life-size volcano, through the use of augmented reality. The exhibition addresses the issues of volcanoes: formation, eruptions and their influence on culture.


Breaking the Wall of the Travelling Telescope
By bringing a 12- inch computerised telescope and an 8-meter portable planetarium to schools and public places, the project focuses on inspiring people into science and technology through astronomy.


Breaking the Wall to a Youth-Led Science World
With the Bayer Kimlu Science Fellowship, Contreras-Villarroel is shaping the next generation of STEM leaders in Latin America through a 10-day youth STEM-leadership science camp and continued Kimlu network.


Breaking the Wall to Sustainable Fisheries
Arlinghaus is building on the joint execution of large-scale field experiments in cooperation with scientists and angler communities to generate high-quality ecological knowledge co-produced by science and stakeholders.


Breaking the Wall of Unemployment
Pradhan’s initiative aims to improve the quality of education in rural and semi-rural areas in India through programs on innovation, science, and technology by organizing short term programs for students.


Breaking the Wall to Reaching the Unreachable
A mobile science bus aims to reach out to the underprivileged communities of Egypt through edutainment hands-on activities and spark their passion in science and inspire them to choose science and technology fields for their studies and careers and highlight science’s vital influence on Egypt’s social and economic development.

I am a vision impaired astronomer and science communicator at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. I lead the Tactile Universe public engagement project, which is developing free 3D printable resources to help vision impaired people (particularly students) engage with current topics in astronomy research. I also work as consultant and adviser with groups both nationally and internationally to develop methods of communicating their science in more accessible ways.

Dr Ken Dutton-Regester is the founder and Executive Creative Director of Excite Science, a creative studio using immersive experiences to explain complex cancer biology in fun ways. From escape rooms to extra reality, Excite Science invokes nostalgic and pop-culture themes to make scientific content relatable and memorable.

A highly recognised science communicator and keynote speaker, Ken is constantly exploring different communication platforms to make science engaging and accessible to diverse audiences. In recognition of his achievements, Dr Dutton-Regester was ministerially appointed to the Questacon Advisory Council in 2019 (Australias National Science and Technology centre).

For over a decade, Ken has also served on national and international professional leadership bodies, advocating for early career researchers for organisations including the American Association for Cancer Research and National Postdoctoral Association. Recognising the challenges facing academics, Ken created the Youtube channel Stemventurist to share his learnings to help researchers succeed in their careers, inside or outside of academia.

A cancer researcher of over 14 years and past Harvard Medical School Research Fellow, Dr Ken Dutton-Regester still retains an active research program and has been exploring new ways to prevent and treat late-stage melanoma.

Sofía Otero-Cavada is a journalist, writer, science communicator. She is working in the field of promoting mathematical and physical sciences for 10 years, developing communication strategies and outreach materials in several platforms (videos, books, museum exhibitions, social media) for different audiences. To generate interest and entertainment with science are Sofías main working drivers, and boredom is her enemy. She got her Journalist Diploma at Universidad de Chile and a Master in Science Communication at the University of Otago (NZ). Currently, she is working at CEGA and is Co-Director of Achipec.

Susan Murabana Owen is the CEO of The Travelling Telescope, a social enterprise dedicated to promoting astronomy through education and astrotourism. She is also the president of African Planetarium Association and the United Nations Space4Women mentor 2020/2021. Susan thinks that every child should have a chance to look through the telescope and experience a lesson outside under the stars at least once in a lifetime.

Oscar Contreras-Villarroel is the Hub Manager of the Falling Walls Engage Hub Argentina. He is the president of the Fundación Ciencia Joven and the Vice President and Legal Representative in Chile at the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Oscar’s expertise is in working with companies at a regional level to develop private partnerships. He was responsible for implementing one of the first STEM community engagement programme at the first Google data centre in Latin America. Oscar has been a Falling Walls Engage Winner in 2019 and 2021.

Interdisiplinary fisheries scientist working at the interface of science and society. Masters in aquatic ecology 2000, PhD in fisheries with a specialization in quantitative social sciences 2003, junior professor of inland fisheries management at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) 2006 and W-2-S professor in integrative fisheries management at HU 2013. Recipient of numerous science and science communication awards, editor of Fish and Fisheries and author of over 500 articles/books.

Anil Pradhan a.k.a. “Ideasman of India” is one of the revolutionary Educationalists of India. He is the Founder of IPSFRI (School for Rural Innovation), which is a noble initiative to educate the less-privileged students of Odisha through an interdisciplinary S.T.E.A.M. curriculum in 2015. He is also the founder of the Navonmesh Prasar Foundation. Felicitated with awards like Global Changemaker, Shambhavi Award and National Youth Icon Award. Anil has quit 3 cushy jobs to follow his dreams to educate students through an experimental approach to learning.

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