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Falling Walls Circle – Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Symposium for Breakthroughs in Physical Sciences

Falling Walls Foundation, Wilhelm und Else Heraeus-Stiftung | Johann Philipp Klages, Donna Strickland, Yafang Cheng, Christian Ospelkaus, Chao-Yang Lu, Juan Ignacio Cirac, Ron Folman, Clare Grey, Erik Bakkers, Elham Fadaly, Martin Fertl, Skyler Degenkolb, Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus, Johanna Stachel

In cooperation with the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, Falling Walls is hosting this unique format to connect researchers in the physical sciences from all over the world. The symposium gathers our winners for the Falling Walls Breakthrough of the Year 2021 in Physical Sciences as well as partners from academia and business to dicuss the most pressing issues and recent breakthroughs in this field.


Please find the detailed programme here.

Johann Philipp Klages

Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research

Johann Philipp Klages is a marine geologist in the “Marine Geology” section at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany. He studied at the Universities of Würzburg and Kiel and completed his doctoral studies at the University of Bremen, the AWI, and the British Antarctic Survey (UK). He reconstructs the ice sheet and climate history of Antarctica from millions of years to the present day in order to better evaluate today’s changes and to make simulations of future developments more reliable. He teaches at the University of Bremen.

Donna Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and is one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor at the time. They published this Nobel-winning research in 1985 when Strickland was a PhD student at the University of Rochester. In 1997, she joined the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. Strickland served as the president of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2013 and is a fellow of OSA, SPIE, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society.

Image Credit: University of Waterloo

More events with Donna Strickland

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 11.30 AM - 11.45 AM Berlin Time

Breaking the Wall to High-intensity Laser Radiation

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 04.30 PM - 04.55 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Breakthrough Conversation with Donna Strickland

Yafang Cheng

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry

Yafang Cheng leads the independent Minerva Research Group “Aerosol, Air Quality and Climate” at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry since 2014. She and her group are developing and combining innovative experimental methods and multi-scale modeling tools to understand key processes that drive the formation and transformation of atmospheric aerosols. The overall goal is to obtain a predictive understanding of the origin, fate and impact of atmospheric aerosols to address the grand challenge of actionable projection of future climate and environment in the Anthropocene.

Christian Ospelkaus

Leibniz Universität Hannover

Christian Ospelkaus studied physics at Bonn; 2001: diploma thesis at Université de Fribourg; 2006: PhD in physics from University of Hamburg; 2007: DPG SAMOP PhD prize; 2007-2010: PostDoc with D.J. Wineland at NIST (Boulder); 2010: professor at Leibniz Universität Hannover and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Braunschweig; 2013: ERC starting grant; 2021: co-speaker, QVLS-Q1 project

Chao-Yang Lu

University of Science and Technology of China

Chao-Yang Lu obtained Bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 2004, and PhD in Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge in 2011. Since 2011, he is a Professor of Physics at USTC. His current research interest includes quantum computation, solid-state quantum photonics, superconducting circuits, and atomic arrays. His work on quantum teleportation was selected as Physics World Breakthrough of the Year 2015. He has been awarded Fresnel Prize (2017), Adolph Lomb Medal (2020), Landauer and Bennett Award in Quantum Computing (2021).

Juan Ignacio Cirac

Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Born in Manresa, Spain. In 1988, he graduated in Theoretical Physics from the Complutense University, Madrid, and gained his PhD in 1991. Between 1991 and 1996, he was Associate Professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha. From 1996 until 2001 he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. In 2001 he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Germany). As an expert in quantum computation and its application in the field of information, the focus of his research work is the quantum theory of information.

Ron Folman

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ron Folman was born in and lives in Tel-Aviv. In 1998, he received his PhD from Weizmann and CERN. He did his Post-Doc research in Innsbruck, and worked as a Marie-Curie fellow at the University of Heidelberg. Since 2003, he is Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Folman is the founder of the BGU center for quantum science and technology as well as the BGU center for nano-fabrication of chips. He is one of the inventors of the Atom Chip and, apart from main-stream quantum optics, he devotes his time to searches for exotic physics. In his personal life, he is a father of 4, and a peace and environment activist. What little time is left is spent on the guitar and extreme sports.

Clare Grey

University of Cambridge

Prof. Clare Grey, FRS (Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge) is a Royal Society (RS) Research Professor and a world leader in battery materials and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). She was awarded the RS Davy medal (2014), the Körber Prize (2021) and is Principal Investigator of the £12 million Faraday Institution battery degradation project. She is also Cofounder and Chief Scientist of Nyobolt Ltd, a battery fast-charging company founded in 2020.

More events with Clare Grey

Mon | Nov 08, 2021 | 11.00 AM - 11.50 AM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Circle – Round Table: New Batteries for Europe’s Green New Deal

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 12.10 PM - 12.25 PM Berlin Time

Breaking the Wall to Next-Generation Batteries

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 03.00 PM - 03.25 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Breakthrough Conversation with Clare Grey

Erik Bakkers

Eindhoven University of Technology

After obtaining his PhD at the University of Utrecht, Erik Bakkers started working at Philips Research in Eindhoven in 2000. In 2010, Erik joined the Technical University of Eindhoven as well as Delft Technical University. His group has three main focus areas all based on semiconducting nanowires. The first area is on developing new quantum materials which should enable to find topological states. The second area is on light emission from silicon. By changing the crystalline properties of silicon, it can be made to emit light. The third area is the application of nanowires in solar cells.

More events with Erik Bakkers

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 11.45 AM - 12.00 PM Berlin Time

Breaking the Wall to Light-Emitting Silicon

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 03.30 PM - 03.55 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Breakthrough Conversation with Erik Bakkers and Elham Fadaly

Elham Fadaly

Eindhoven University of Technology

Elham Fadaly is currently a guest researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. She obtained her Ph.D. in Applied Physics with Cum Laude from the same university in April 2021. Her doctoral research focused on the epitaxy of hexagonal silicon-germanium alloys for the realization of direct band gap emission for optoelectronic applications. Fadaly holds a joint M.Sc. degree in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from KU Leuven, Belgium, and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. She obtained her B.Sc. in Electronics Engineering from the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

More events with Elham Fadaly

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 11.45 AM - 12.00 PM Berlin Time

Breaking the Wall to Light-Emitting Silicon

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 03.30 PM - 03.55 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Breakthrough Conversation with Erik Bakkers and Elham Fadaly

Martin Fertl

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Martin Fertl is University Professor at the Institute of Physics and PRISMA+ cluster of excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. He studied physics at the Technische Universität München, Germany (2009 Dipl.-Phys. (Univ.)) and obtained a graduate certificate in Physics, University of Adelaide, Australia (2009); His PhD in physics is from ETH Zürich and PSI, Villigen, Switzerland; ChIPP Phd Prize 2013. In 2014 Martin moved to CENPA, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, as a postdoc and was promoted to Acting Assistant and Research Assistant Professor. Since 2019 Martin continues his research in the field of fundamental precision physics measurements using muons, neutron and and neutrinos at JGU Mainz.

Skyler Degenkolb


Skyler Degenkolb is professor of experimental physics at Heidelberg University’s Physikalisches Institut, where he started a new research group for Low-Energy Precision Measurements in 2021. He studied at the University of Chicago, and received a PhD in physics from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2016. Skyler then moved to the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France and stayed there as instrument scientist until 2021, specializing in new approaches to fundamental neutron physics. His new research group sits at the intersection of particle physics with nuclear and atomic physics.

Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus

Bielefeld University

Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus is a Senior Professor of Physical Chemistry at Bielefeld University, Germany. She was trained as a chemist with a doctoral thesis in atmospheric chemistry and performed her habilitation in engineering. Research periods, guest and honorary professorships brought her to institutions in Europe, the USA and Asia. Her research combines aspects of chemistry, physics and engineering to study high-temperature processes.

Kohse-Höinghaus has been honored with prestigious awards and lectureships, including the German Cross of the Order of Merit, the Giulio Natta Medal in Chemical Engineering of the Politecnico di Milano and awards for international scientific cooperation issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the People’s Republic of China. She is a Fellow of the international Combustion Institute and received its Alfred C. Egerton Gold Medal in 2018. The German Bunsen Society of Physical Chemistry honored her with its Walther Nernst Medal in 2020.

She is a member of five academies, including the National Academies of Sciences, Leopoldina, and of Engineering, acatech, as well as the European Academy of Sciences. She has served as the President of the Bunsen Society and of the Combustion Institute. Also, she has been a member of the German Council of Sciences and the Humanities, the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Senates of the German Research Foundation and the Helmholtz Association and served in further academic functions. She is also a pioneer of hands-on science activities for schools.

Johanna Stachel

University of Heidelberg

Johanna Stachel studied chemistry and physics at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, and the ETH Zurich. She received her doctorate in Physics at Mainz in 1982. After her PhD, she spent a postdoctorate at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and became a member of its faculty already in 1984. From 1993-1996 she was  a Full Professor at SUNY. She was appointed to her present position of Full Professor of Physics at the University of Heidelberg in 1996, where she is the Chair of the Institute for Experimental Physics.

Her current research focuses on understanding relativistic heavy-ion collisions, quark-gluon plasma, the phenomenology of high-energy nuclear collisions, and detectors for particle physics experiments. Johanna Stachel has been instrumental in high-energy physics experiments at CERN. Among her contributions, she was spokesperson of the Super Proton Synchrotron CERES / NA45 experiment, and she directed the development of the ALICE transition radiation detector at the Large Hadron Collider.

From 2012 to 2014, Professor Stachel served as the first female President of the Germany Physical Society. She was honored with its Stern-Gerlach-Medal in 2019. Johanna Stachel also received a large number of further honours and awards, among them a Presidential Young Investigator Award 1988, the Lise Meitner Prize of the European Physical Society 2014 and the Honorary Membership of the famous “Physikalischer Verein Frankfurt” 2014. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society since 1997 and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, the Academia Europaea, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy and the Heidelberg Academy. She was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1999 and received its First Class Medal in 2021.

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Radialsystem Berlin
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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