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Falling Walls Engage Pitches – Session 2: Engaging Communities for Planetary Health

Falling Walls Foundation | Emily Koch, Mark Peñalver, Maria Teresa Gutiérrez Mercadillo, Fabian Feutlinske, Mayumi Madhushani Manamperi Hettige, Zeinab Khalil, Rodrick Emmanuel Sambakunsi


For the 6th time, Falling Walls Engage and the Robert Bosch Stiftung put a spotlight on the most inspiring Science Engagement projects worldwide. The 20 Winners in the Science Engagement category are invited to present their 5-minute project to an international audience and a distinguished jury. Join us to discover the most inspiring initiatives breaking the walls between science and society, including vaccine engagement, art of movement, student solutions to SDGs, citizen water and soil monitoring, STEM initiatives and collaboration projects for children and adults with disabilities. On 7 November in a joint Award Ceremony with Falling Walls Lab (Emerging Talents) and Falling Walls Venture (Science Start-Ups), the title of “Falling Walls 2023 Breakthrough of the Year in the Science Engagement category” will be awarded to the best initiative. On 9 November, this Awardee and the other 9 Awardees of Science Breakthroughs of the Year will present on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Science Summit.

As the global platform for Science Engagement, Falling Walls Engage is hosted by the Falling Walls Foundation in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

In 5-minute pitches, each of the 20 international Falling Walls Engage winners will present their inspiring initiatives breaking the walls between science and society.

Emily Koch

Beyond the Surface International

A former professional surfer from San Diego, California, Emi is the co-founder of Coast 2 Coast, weaving investigation with imagination for learners and educators in fishing villages to strengthen meaningful relationships with themselves, one another, and their built-natural environment. With over 15 years of experience in “edutainment” and youth action research, Emi has lived and worked with coastal communities around the world, including in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Colombia exploring nature connectedness, well-being, and optimistic futures. She is a Fulbright Fellow, WISE Emerging Leader, and National Geographic Explorer based in Lobitos, a remote fishing village in Northern Peru.

Mark Peñalver

Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Inc.

Mark Peñalver is a lawyer having been admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2017. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication from Ateneo de Davao University and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Mindanao. Currently, he is serving as the Executive Director of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Inc. a policy advocacy and environmental non-government organization with a primary focus on watershed protection and conservation and the promotion of urban sustainable transformation. As such, he represents the organization in different local special bodies in Davao City, among others, the City Development Council, Local Zoning and Review Committee, Watershed Management Council, and Davao City Climate Change Committee.

As an environmental lawyer he advocates for an inclusive policy development and implementation through active community participation.

He is an alumnus of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) – Professional Fellows Program on Sustainable Development and the Environment by the United States Department of State-Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He recently participated in the nature-based/regenerative placemaking sandbox hosted by the University of Melbourne, Australia with support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Maria Teresa Gutiérrez Mercadillo

Fondo para la Comunicación y la Educación Ambiental, A.C.

Maria Teresa Gutiérrez is a Primary Education Teacher, Graduated in Communications Studies from the Universidad Iberoamericana and obtained Science Divulgation diploma at UNAM.
In 2002 she founded the Environmental Education and Communicational Fund, an organization that she has directed since 2006, and whose mission is to contribute to the development of a culture that commits Mexican society to the natural and cultural world that sustains it.
She is a board member of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, the Gulf of Mexico Fund, she has been a Columnist for the National News System for more than eight years, member of the Senate of the Universidad Iberoamericana, Consultant of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, A.C. and Coordinator of the Mexican Association of Fulbright Alumni.

I am a Biochemist, Neurobiologist, Impact Entrepreneur, biominic, educator, and Chief Technical Officer. My aim is to increase the influence of science in society and support the positive impact we can have on people an planet – if we work together. My first startup supports SMEs and corporates in their sustainability transformation; my second startup Xchange builds platforms for the Collaboration Economy. The project here at Falling Walls is a collaboration project of my companies with a European consortium that combines scientific education of students, collaborative innovation and technology.

Mayumi Madhushani Manamperi Hettige

Rajarata University of Sri Lanka

Miss Mayumi Manamperi is an accomplished Entomologist specializing in vector surveillance, Chemical/Biological vector control methods, and insecticide resistance monitoring. Since 2019, she has been serving the Ministry of Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine in Sri Lanka as a Medical Entomologist. Currently, she is pursuing her post-graduate degree in Molecular Entomology and Health Promotion under the supervision of Dr. Asha Wijegunawardana at the laboratory facility in the Department of Bioprocess Technology, Faculty of Technology, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka under the funds received from WHO/TDR Crowdfund Grant 2019.

Zeinab Khalil

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland

Zeinab Khalil is the Director of the Soils for Science citizen science project and the Australian Research Council Fellow at the University of Queensland (UQ) in the antibiotic biodiscovery research spanning the fields of organic chemistry and microbiology. Zeinab completed a bachelor and master degrees in Pharmacy, Egypt. She moved to Australia where she was awarded a PhD UQ scholarship in 2009. During her PhD at the UQ (awarded 2013) she pioneered in successfully accelerating the discovery of new antibiotics from marine and terrestrial environments. To date, she identified and evaluated >15 new drugs targeting infectious diseases.

Rodrick Emmanuel Sambakunsi

Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Program

Rodrick Sambakunsi, a Science Communication Specialist from Malawi, boasts a decade of expertise in innovative Community Engagement projects. His work spans health research areas like HIV, TB, and Vaccines. Currently Rodrick is leading a vaccine engagement project called One for All, All for One, which aims at facilitating dialogue on vaccines, immunization and vaccine research among the global South and North audiences using art.
Formerly at Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, he led the Communication and Public Engagement departement, developing innovative initiatives supporting ethical research practice and to enhance community engagement and involvement.


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Holzmarkt – Säälchen
Holzmarktstraße 25
Berlin, Berlin 10243 Germany

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