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Falling Walls Circle – Plenary Table: Big Science for the Future – Rekindling Transatlantic Partnerships

Falling Walls Foundation, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) | Eric Isaacs, Ottoline Leyser, Charlotte Warakaulle, Sibylle Günter, Darion Akins, Georg Schütte


How can a unifying vision be forged to create a roadmap for transatlantic science & technology? How can barriers in international cooperation be resolved to support global science diplomacy? The Plenary Table “Big Science for the Future – Rekindling Transatlantic Partnerships” will unite major leaders and visionaries from national labs, science and politics to: charter a strong scientific partnership, empower the research infrastructure to create sustainable solutions and strengthen resilience in our society for the future.


Falling Walls Circle Tables gives the spotlight to world-leading scientists and science strategists, along with policy-makers from academia, business and politics to shape the agenda of the future of science.

Eric Isaacs

Carnegie Science

Eric D. Isaacs is a condensed matter physicist and the 11th president of the Carnegie Institution for Science, a private, nonprofit research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. As president of Carnegie Science, Dr. Isaacs leads the Institution’s investigators in forefront research in plant biology, developmental biology, Earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology.

Dr. Isaacs came to Carnegie from the University of Chicago, where he served as the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories. In that role, he provided direct oversight of  Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. He also led the University’s founding-partner relationship with the Giant Magellan Telescope project. He previously served as Provost of the University of Chicago. Dr. Isaacs spent five years as Director of Argonne, one of the nation’s largest science and engineering research centers. As Argonne’s Director, Dr. Isaacs earned a reputation as a nationally recognized institutional strategist and advocate for scientific research and its importance in driving the U.S. economy. He joined the University and Argonne in 2003 as the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, where researchers study and create materials at the atomic and molecular scales.

He began his career as a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories, where he went on to serve as director of the semiconductor physics research and materials physics research departments. Dr. Isaacs holds a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the National Academy of Inventors. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scholarly publications.

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Mon | Nov 08, 2021 | 10.00 AM - 10.25 AM Berlin Time

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Ottoline Leyser

UK research and Innovation (UKRI)

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser is the Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge. UKRI brings together the UK’s Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England, operating with a combined budget of more than £8bn per year. Prior to this Ottoline Leyser was Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, an interdisciplinary research institute combining computational modelling with molecular genetics and cell biology in the control of plant growth and development. Ottoline has a long-term interest in research culture and chaired the Nuffield Council on Bioethics project examining these issues. She has been actively engaged in work aimed at generating a more inclusive, creative and connected culture. She has also worked extensively in science policy, for example serving as Chair of the Royal Society’s Science Policy Expert Advisory Committee, Chair of the Management Committee of the University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy, and as a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Member of the Leopoldina and EMBO, and an International Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. In 2017, she was appointed DBE for services to plant science, science in society and equality and diversity in science.

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Mon | Nov 08, 2021 | 09.00 AM - 09.25 AM Berlin Time

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Charlotte Warakaulle has served as Director for International Relations at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, since 2016, starting at a second five-year mandate in 2021. Prior to joining CERN, she gained extensive operational and policy experience in multilateral diplomacy through 15 years at the United Nations Geneva in a variety of posts focused on political affairs, strategic communications, partnerships and management, including as Chief of the United Nations Library and Chief of Political Affairs and Partnership-building, facilitating multi-stakeholder initiatives. Charlotte serves on a several international advisory committees and boards. Charlotte gained her MPhil in international relations at the University of Cambridge (Pembroke College), and has obtained Master’s degrees in history from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Sydney.

Sibylle Günter


Sibylle Günter is the Scientific Director and Chair of the board of directors of the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) with its two sites in Garching and Greifswald. IPP is a world leading institute for fusion research with two major experimental devices, representing the two most promising magnetic confinement concepts, the tokamak and the stellarator. Sibylle Günter is honorary professor at Technical University of Munich and adjunct professor at Rostock University. She is elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the National Academy of Science and Engineering of Germany (Acatech), the Academia Europaea, and Corresponding Member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW).

Darion Akins

Embassy of the United States of America in Berlin

Consul General Darion Akins arrived in Hamburg in July 2019.  He is a career Foreign Service Officer, and the Ambassador’s representative to the German states of Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Before his assignment to Germany, Darion was in the Executive Office for the Bureaus of European and Eurasian Affairs and International Organization Affairs, where he oversaw the staffing of U.S. diplomatic missions in Europe and multilateral organizations, such as the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN) in New York, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. Mission to the European Union (USEU), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).  Prior to his Washington assignment, he served in Malaysia, India, Afghanistan, Australia, and Indonesia.

Darion holds a Master’s Degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and is also a graduate from Texas A&M University, where he studied Political Science and Business.  He co-founded the National War College Alumni Association at the U.S. Department of State, and served as the organization’s President for two years. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Darion developed and implemented microfinance and income-generation projects in Zambia as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  While working for a private firm in Japan, he met his spouse.  Together, they have one teenage son.  Darion’s language experience includes German, Japanese, and ChiNyanja.

Georg Schütte

Volkswagen Stiftung

Since 1 January 2020, Dr. Georg Schütte has been Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation. Prior to this, he served as State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for ten years and, among others, led the negotiations between the Federal Government and the German Länder on the future financing of the German research system. Dr. Schütte was born in Rheine, Germany, in 1962 and holds a doctoral degree in media and communication research from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, as well as a Masters Degree of the City University of New York, USA. He conducted research at Harvard University and at the University of Siegen. Before he entered government service, Georg Schütte was Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has worked in research and foundation management for more than 25 years.

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Mon | Nov 08, 2021 | 12.30 PM - 12.55 PM Berlin Time

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About the Venue
Radialsystem Berlin
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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