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Falling Walls Lab MSCA 2021

Falling Walls Lab MSCA is a world-class pitch showcasing the quality, diversity and passion of the most innovative minds taking part in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. The competition is organized independently by the European Commission in conjunction with the Falling Walls Lab Foundation.

30 September 2021
Online event

About Falling Walls Lab Marie & Sklodowska-Curie Actions 

Falling Walls Lab MSCA is a world-class pitch showcasing the quality, diversity and passion of the most innovative minds taking part in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

15 MSCA fellows will present – in 3 minutes each – their research topic, innovative project, social initiative, business model, or idea to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. The competition is organized independently by the European Commission in conjunction with the Falling Walls Lab Foundation.


15 candidates competed for a spot at the global Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, where they get to interact with the world’s movers and shakers of science, business, and policy-making and have the opportunity to become one of the Breakthrough Winners of the Year. 2021 candidates presented their breakthroughs to find sustainable replacements for plastics, use heatwaves for new imaging techniques or even revolutionize the treatment of cancer and diabetes.

The winners of the 2021 edition are

  • Giulia Rocco (1st place)
  • Anwesh Bhattacharya (2nd place)


Anwesh Battacharya is a European Union Marie Skłodowska-Curie doctoral fellow in the UPtoPARIS programme at Institut Langevin, ESPCI-PSL Paris. His doctoral work focuses on developing infrared imaging techniques using complex scattering media.

Anwesh was a Govt. of India DST-INSPIRE Fellow and DAE-NIUS scholar during his undergraduate studies at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, and graduated in 2019 with a BS & MS in Natural Sciences, specializing in Physics.

He was a Charpak fellow at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, ENS Paris, during his Master’s thesis research on ultracold atoms.

Beyond research, he is deeply passionate about theatre and science outreach.

Anwesh is a 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting alumnus & student member of SPIE, SFP and SFO.

My name is Kelly Blust, I am an industrial PhD student in the Marie Curie project STACCATO at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm with Prof. My Hedhammer. I work also in close cooperation with Spiber Technologies AB and NIBRT, Dublin. I am developing methods for the 3D differentiation of stem cells to pancreatic tissue using spider silk to cure Diabetes.

I hold a MSc degree in Pharmaceutical and Industrial Biotechnology and a BSc degree in Medical Biotechnology. I have always been fascinated in regenerative medicine. I have worked with stem cell therapy for myocardial infarction, studying the regeneration capacity of the Axolotl, and I have done my master thesis in tissue engineering.

I love animals (I adopted a greyhound) except spiders but they are very helpful!

I joined KU Leuven as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow in 2021. Here, I work at “Instituut voor Kern- en Stralingsfysica”, performing nuclear reaction experiments in order to extract new information on nuclei. The research final goal is to challenge the nuclear models, providing experimental data far from the already explored regions. In particular, I aim at providing new data that could allow us to further constrain nucleosynthesis models, which means exploring where and how the elements around us have been formed in the Universe.

Prior to joining KU Leuven, I obtained a Ph.D. degree at "Università degli Studi di Firenze". There, I investigated the properties of nuclear matter, a key ingredient to describe the structure of Neutron Stars. So yes, I always look at the stars.

Javier Crespo-Anadón is finishing his PhD in computational fluid dynamics as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher in the project Annulight with Safran HE. He is studying the ignition process in a new aero-engine concept called spinning combustion technology. This technology features a unique flame ring covering the whole combustor and has benefits for fuel consumption and pollutants reduction.

Prior to joining Annulight, Javier completed his MSc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Javier loves conversing about science with the public and he is a volunteer at the Civil Service of Madrid.

Javier likes playing sports and regularly practices running, climbing and hiking. Finally, Javier is a big fan of good humor movies and ranks the Monty Python Flying Circus as one of his favorites.

After obtaining his MSc. in chemistry at the University of Bonn (DE), Peer Depping travelled to England for his PhD studies as a member of the MemTrain programme at Aston University (Birmingham, UK). Inspired by the KnotBody technology of Maxion Therapeutics, he decided to work together with them on overcoming the challenge of treating ion channel driven diseases, such as pain or auto-immune disorders, by developing novel therapeutics.

In the past, he helped in the improvement of the chemistry courses at his former university and currently tackles the problematics of climate change as part of the BioKnot project.

When he is not working, he can be found on climbing walls, performing on stage as part of the Aston Drama Society or running away from vicious zombie hordes on tracks and fields.

Sofía García Fracaro is a MSCA Ph.D. Researcher of the Charming Project. She is researching the effectiveness and efficiency of immersive technology environments when applied for the training of chemical operators.

Sofia graduated as a Chemical Engineer in 2014 in Argentina. In 2015, she did a Specialization in Technological Applications of Nuclear Power. She developed for her thesis, the model for the Primary Cooling System for the Operator Training Simulator. Then, she worked for the Nuclear National Commission as a Simulator Engineer.

In 2017, Sofia was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and started her Master of Science in Chemical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, USA.

In 2019 she moved to Germany to start her current research in the chemical company Merck.

Magdalena Góra joined the REPOL project as a Maria Curie fellow in 2020. Her current research activities touching human society's hot topic which is polymer pollution. She works daily on the crystallization of recycled polyolefin blends. Understanding this phenomenon will bring value to these materials and will contribute to higher usage of recyclates in the real world parts made out of recycled pellets.

Prior to joining the REPOL project, Magdalena had an opportunity to work on the application of the chemical principles of the materials. She built chemical vapor sensors used in waste management. She synthesized a polypropylene and polyester copolymer for water filtration with nano-size pores, namely cheaper water filters for portable personal purification devices.

Besides that, she is passionate about 3D printing and making the polymer industry more sustainable.

Dr Laia Josa-Culleré is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC) in Barcelona (Spain).

After finishing her Bachelor in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, she obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a PhD at the University of Oxford, where she stayed for her first postdoc.

She has participated in multiple projects combining chemistry and biology, and aims to focus her research career on using medicinal chemistry to treat and understand disease.

She is currently leading the multidisciplinary project PhotoStem, which intends to develop a new therapy against cancer stem cells, using external light to control drug selectivity.

Early Stage Clinical Blockchain Researcher at Shivom Ventures Ltd.

PhD student at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, KU Leuven (interdisciplinary doctorate application pending: Faculty of Business Economics).

ESR 10 of TranSYS ITN,MarieS. Curie grant “Horizon 2020”.

Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Engineering at La Sapienza, Universitàdi Roma.

Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering – Bioengineering for Cells, Tissue and Nanotechnologies (BCT) at Politecnicodi Milano.

Ongoing validation for pharmacological device patent: presented a device for micro-particles delivery to make them bypass the blood brain barrier.

Scientific interest(s): Data Interoperability, Federated Systems, Blockchain Technology, Pattern Recognition, Genetic Distance among dataset.

Milica Milić is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher within the ITN project INTERfaces. The goal of her project is to make furandicarboxylic acid, a building block of biobased plastic, by combining enzymes and engineering in a green and high-throughput process.

She is currently a PhD student at Aarhus University, Denmark, and she will soon move further north to do science under the northern lights at the company SpinChem in Sweden.

Milica holds two Master’s degrees - in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and in Molecular Bioengineering from TU Dresden, Germany.

Outside of the lab, Milica enjoys books, travelling, and is most likely to be found enjoying an espresso in a sunny cafe.

Swati Nandan is a MSCA (European Industrial Doctorate) fellow with Bioimplant-ITN in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at National University of Ireland, Galway and holds Master of Science degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Technical University of Denmark.

She is working in close collaboration with UK based company, Vascular Flow Technologies to overcome the challenges of bioresorbable stent implantation in human peripheral arteries with a vision of improving the quality of lives of patients suffering from peripheral artery disease. Her research interest includes analysis of complex flow using simulations, biomedical product development, chemical and biological experiments for verification and validation of biomaterials.

She loves to travel and experience the nature, food, and culture around the world.

Giulia Rocco is a MSCA-COFUND PhD fellow at Côte d'Azur University (Nice, France) in BoostUrCAreer, a multidisciplinary doctoral programme in e-health.

She holds a MSc in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Milan (Milan, Italy). She has an international research background obtained from the works with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden) and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Leuven, Belgium). Her research focuses on biomedical signal processing for new monitoring and diagnostic systems.

She is currently working in the field of neuroscience searching for new ways to explore the cerebellum.

She took part in the 3-Minutes Thesis competition and was awarded the Public Prize.

She also loves playing guitar.

I am a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Cardiff University (UK), working on marine sediments to study past warm climates through Earth’s history, using microscopic marine algae called coccolithophores.

I obtained my MS degree in Geology at the University of the Philippines before moving to Germany to undertake my PhD in Marine Geosciences at the University of Bremen. I then took on a role as Postdoctoral Investigator at the University of Salamanca (Spain) where I looked at changes in biogeochemistry of the southern Indian Ocean on glacial-interglacial timescales.

I am also keen on outreach work, participating in the Once Upon a Time series of short stories written to engage the public about climate change and the marine environment, and has taken part in science slam competitions in Germany.

Nikoletta Tsiarta received her BSc in Environmental Science and Technology from the Cyprus University of Technology in June 2015 and then she continued her studies as a post-graduate student at the University of Amsterdam on Freshwater and Marine Biology.

She is currently a pre-doctoral Marie Curie Fellow with the Water Supply and Advanced Treatment Group at the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) in Spain (NOWELTIES project, H2020, EU).

Her Ph.D. study focuses on designing a hybrid ozone-ceramic membrane to increase hydroxyl radical yield for the degradation of organic persistent micropollutants from secondary wastewater effluent. Her research interests focus on Advanced Oxidation processes and cyanobacteria mitigation strategies.

Vivek Babu is currently completing his Ph.D. at Saule SA, affiliated with the University of Rome Tor Vergata. The project is under the European training network MAESTRO funded from the EU Horizon 2020 programme.

He received his M.Sc. degree from the Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, and M.Tech. degree from Manipal Institute of Technology, India.

His experience and knowledge in organic photovoltaic and large area deposition techniques helped him achieve significant developments in the field of organometal halide perovskite. The recent one is the implementation of a perovskite-powered tracking collar on European Bisons for wildlife conservation. The project was in partnership with WWF Ukraine and Poland and co-financed by the UNDP and the Polish Challenge Fund.

Jury and Moderator

A high-calibre jury made up of distinguished experts from academia, business, last year’s winners of Falling Walls Lab MSCA and the European Commission and Parliament will select the winner of the competition. The jury will assess all candidates on the basis of the breakthrough factor and potential impact of the presented work.


Based in London, Raluca Anghel is responsible for the Natural Diamond Council’s global external affairs and sustainability agenda.

Prior to this, Raluca lived in Brussels for 11 years. She was Spokesperson for Romania’s first Presidency of the EU Council and has also worked in the European Parliament focusing on social affairs, education, entrepreneurship and civil liberties.

In addition, Raluca worked in the tech sector where she led citizenship and communication projects for Microsoft Europe in areas such as research and tech policy, digital skills, health, and environment.

Themis Christophidou is the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, since March 2018.

She is a civil engineer with 35 years of experience in private and public sector management. After having worked in the private sector for 15 years, she joined the European Commission in 2001.

During the last 20 years she has held various positions, including in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Themis Christophidou is an alumna of the civil engineering faculty of the Metsovio Polytechnic University of Athens.

Born in Famagusta, Cyprus, she is trilingual, fluent in Greek, French, English.

Stephane Berghmans has been Director for R&I at the European University Association since 2020.

Previously he worked for Elsevier and the European Science Foundation.

He is a doctor of Veterinary Medicine with a PhD in genetics and molecular biology. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School before working in biotech.

Since 2015 he has been on the EuroScience Governing Board.

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav is the Chair of the international non-profit Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA).

After working over 10 years in an academic environment in Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, he moved into the semiconductor sector.

He is a high level expert for an European Project on Knowledge Ecosystem.

He contributed to the supervision guideline published by the MSCA Unit.

He provides training for researchers on different topics including career paths, science diplomacy & entrepreneurship.

Xiaomeng Hu is a Ph.D. student at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), currently working on developing personalized vaccine. She has been worked with vaccine projects since 2014.

After she got her master’s degree in pharmaceutics, she went to Karolinska Institute to investigate the applications of exosome vaccine for cancer and inflammatory disease. Then, she got the opportunity to work on the carrier-free vaccine for personalized treatment at EPFL, supported by the EPFLinnovators programme.

Aurélie Lacroix is a MSCA fellow at Sixfold Bioscience (London, UK), a start-up, developing RNA structures for delivery of gene therapeutics. Aurélie completed her PhD at McGill University (Canada) with Prof. Sleiman. She worked on elucidating the fate of DNA structures in biological conditions.

She holds a MSc in Chemistry and a MRes in medicinal biochemistry from the National Graduate School of Montpellier (France).

Aurélie also loves discussing science with the public. She completed a one-year journalism degree in 2019 and also took part of the 3 min thesis competition, volunteered for Pint of Science, and competed as the MSCA finalist for Falling Walls 2020.

Event programme