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Falling Walls Circle – Round Table: Training Scientists for the Future – Is the PhD still up to date?

Elsevier, Falling Walls Foundation | Alice Aiken, Karsten Danielmeier, Nick Fowler, Zainab Kidwai, Jan-Martin Wiarda

The PhD is the foundation of the academic enterprise, the first piece of original work done by a researcher. With the significant changes seen within science and the expectations broader society has of science, early career researchers have to be prepared to address grand societal challenges such as climate crisis and biodiversity loss, and deal with the new economic demands and technologies by industry.

This Round Table will discuss if the way we conceive of PhD training is still up-to-date, and how the reform of assessment and evaluation could affect academic culture.

Supported by Elsevier.


Alice Aiken

Dalhousie University

Alice Aiken is the Vice President – Research & Innovation at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, she was formerly the Dean of the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie. She is a full Professor in the Faculty of Health. Her research focuses on health systems transformation and evidence-informed policy-making with a concentration on military and Veteran health. Dr. Aiken is the Vice Chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She holds her ICD.D designation from the Institute for Corporate Directors.

Karsten Danielmeier

German Chemical Society

Karsten Danielmeier, born in 1967, is the Senior Vice President of Research and Development (R&D) for the Business Entity Coatings and Adhesives at Covestro. He also serves as the President of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) for the years 2022/23.

Nick Fowler is Elsevier’s Chief Academic Officer. He leads Elsevier’s Research Networks group which collaborates with senior leaders of the world’s leading universities, funders, and research policymakers. He has been instrumental in setting up collaborations with universities to address topics such as the future of academic assessment, advancing inclusion and diversity in recruitment, and measuring societal and economic impact. Nick is also Elsevier’s policy lead for areas such as Open Science and Research Evaluation.

Nick serves as Elsevier’s representative on the Board of the STM Association, the global trade association for Science, Technical and Medical Publishers. He has Chaired the Association since October 2020. Nick is also a Council Member of the UK Publishers Association. He served as its Treasurer in 2012-13 and its President from 2013-14.

Nick joined Elsevier in 2003. Before that he was an Engagement Manager at management consultancy McKinsey & Company based in Stamford Connecticut. He has a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1998, a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago as a Fulbright Scholar in 1990, and a BA in Geography from Oxford University in 1989.

Zainab Kidwai

University of York

Zainab Kidwai is pioneering solutions addressing the growing crisis of oral cancer. As a dentist, having worked in rural communities, she witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of this disease. This motivated her to pursue solutions, leading to a Master of Dental Public Health and a Ph.D. Working with 27 global experts, Zainab has developed a low-cost screening toolkit for preventing and detecting oral cancers. She has also built a mobile app enabling training, data collection, and linkage of health systems. Additionally, Zainab co-founded the BALLANCE cancer network, uniting global researchers in this fight through capacity-building, information exchange, and mentorship programs.

Jan-Martin Wiarda

Independent Journalist

Jan-Martin Wiarda is an independent journalist, political scientist and economist.

Studied in Munich, Chapel Hill (USA) and German School of Journalism. Has been an author at the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Brand Eins, the Financial Times Deutschland, Tagesspiegel and others. For 8 years has worked as an editor in Hamburg at ZEIT in the education department “Chancen” and for 3 years as Head of Communications at the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft . Since 2015 has worked as  freelance journalist, author and moderator. In 2016 defended his dissertation at the HU Berlin.

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About the Venue
Radialsystem – Glassfront Tent
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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