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Breaking the Walls Between Scientific Disciplines

Located in the Leopold Park in Brussels, Belgium, House of European History is a significant landmark for history of science. It is the place where Marie Skłodowska Curie met with other scientists in the early years of 1900s to present and discuss their research results and implications. These gatherings known as the Solvay Conferences, as they were initiated by a chemistry entrepreneur Ernest Solvay, supported a better cross-disciplinary understanding between researchers and had the potential of pushing the individual fields further.

On Monday, 25th September 2017, the MSCA research fellows had the chance to have their research presented and shared in the same House of European History in Brussels. Under the framework of “Science is Wonder-full”, European Commission organised the very first Falling Walls Lab Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions, an event that gathered 30 MSCA researchers from different disciplines to present their work and ideas in only 3 minutes. One of the presenters was EDiTE’s Early Stage Researcher Helena Kovacs who in her presentation called “Breaking the walls of teaching routine” disclosed her work on teacher learning in innovative learning environments by using metaphors of pineapples and seeds. While this might sound unusual in terms of conventional research presentations, Helena and the other Falling Walls contestants received a training a day before in how to prepare an impactful presentation in only 180 seconds that will leave a mark on diverse audiences. A strong emphasis of the training was the idea that the content needs to both be understandable and interesting to spectators coming from different sciences, as well as those coming from outside of academia. Another strong point of the training was to focus on the actual skills of presenting, such as body posture, breathing, tone and voice, movement and hand gesture.

The Falling Walls Lab MSCA was indeed a great opportunity to learn, network and meet researchers from other scientific fields, but it was also a chance to win a ticket to participate in the amazing Falling Walls Conference in Berlin. Among all 30 contestants, the great honour to represent MSCA and their own work went to Fabien Wagner who was breaking the wall of paralysis with neurotechnologies and to John Palmer who researches mosquito-born diseases. Even though Helena was not among the winners this year, she did manage to gather a lot of great feedback from the trainers and from the jury which she will try to spread as wide as possible through the EDiTE network.