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© Franzi Sattler

Apocalypse now! Research, Solutions and Citizen Science

LGBTQ STEM Berlin, Soapbox Science Berlin | Natalia Andrea Tarazona Lizcano, Maya Ben Yami, Chiara Pasquini, Terra Sztain, PhD, Klaus Jäger, Heather MURDOCk, Beatriz Noriega-Ortega

We are the cause, let’s be the solution!  

Many of us are overwhelmed and anxious about the current state of the world. Draughts, floods and increasingly extreme weather are going to affect all of us – sooner or later. With other pandemics lurking around the corner, many of us feel paralysed and unsure about the future.

That’s why Soapbox Science Berlin and LGBTQ STEM Berlin have joined forces again for this year’s Berlin Science Week Campus. Eight experts will show you new and exciting scientific results, as well as advances in the fields of sustainability, waste management and climate research in bite-sized talks. Further we discuss how citizen science can contribute to these topics. Our experts will be there to answer all  the questions you have been burning to ask.

Instead of waiting for the world to collapse around you, come and join us! Learn about how different crises are still affecting our lives even after they disappeared from the news and how YOU can get active in your community. Dare to know!

12:00 – 12:30
Maya Ben-Yami
Technical University of Munich + Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Climate tipping points

LGBTQ STEM Berlin + Soapbox Science Berlin
Introduction to the organizing teams

12:30 – 13:00
Natalia Andrea Tarazona Lizcano
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon and MENZYPOL-NET
The plastics dilemma, how can microbes help us?

Terra Sztain
FU Berlin
Computational simulations of SARS-CoV-2

13:00 – 13:30
Klaus Jäger
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
How renewable energy can tackle the climate crisis

Betty Noriega-Ortega
European Citizen Science Association
Citizen science: you can be a scientist too!

13:30 – 14:00
Chiara Pasquini
FU Berlin / Aurora Energy Research
Hydrogen production

Heather Murdock
Universität Potsdam
Can Flood Early Warning Systems prevent Disasters?


This event will take place as part of the Berlin Science Week CAMPUS‘. No registration necessary. Just drop by! However, if you want join the activities on CAMPUS, please reserve your one or two-day ticket here. Admission is free.

The talks will be either in English or German – depending on the speaker.


About the Venue
Invalidenstraße 43
Berlin, Berlin 10115 Germany

Natalia’s research mission is to apply her knowledge of Microbiology and Molecular Biology to address challenges in the development of polymer-based materials for consumer and advanced applications, while making responsible use of natural resources. Furthermore, Natalia is keen to find new innovative applications to address global challenges in healthcare, energy, and the environment while supporting other early career researchers to grow in the field. The title of her talk is: “The plastics dilemma, how can microbes help us?”


Maya Ben Yami

Technische Universität München

Maya is a Doctoral Researcher at Technical University of Munich and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. She is investigating what real-world data can tell us about interactions between climate tipping elements. More specifically, her work focuses on how the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation affects tropical precipitation. The title of her talk is: ”Climate tipping points”.

Chiara Pasquini researched as a PhD student at the Freie Universität on energy storage systems, in particular on catalysts for hydrogen production. Today, she works for a company that provides research and consulting services for European and global energy markets.

Decarbonizing our energy system is key to reach an emission-neutral world by 2050 and limit the irreversible damages to the planet’s ecosystems. Thus, developing a new sustainable energy production system is one of the biggest challenges of our century and requires implementation of new technologies, as well as a system and a mentality change. The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, as well as their build out rate are some of the limits. Hydrogen can be part of the solution, allowing to store renewables electricity and decarbonize hard-to-electrify sectors. To achieve this goal further improvements in hydrogen production efficiency are required.

The title of her talk is “Hydrogen production: how can we store energy using water?”

Terra Sztain, PhD

Freie Universität Berlin

Terra Sztain is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences Group, led by Frank Noé at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests are in understanding molecular structure and dynamics to guide design. Terra received her Ph.D. in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, with Michael D. Burkart and J. Andrew McCammon. Prior to that, Terra graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. In her free time, she enjoys practising aerial silks, arts & crafts, and spending time with her pet bunny, Warren.

Biological processes occurring all around and inside of us involve billions of tiny molecules interacting in a highly dynamic fashion. These motions can be described mathematically to simulate and predict responses under given conditions. Using molecular dynamics simulations as a “computational microscope,” we were able to visualise how the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein opens so it can infect humans. This revealed an important glycan, or sugar molecule, that intercalates underneath and pushes open the receptor binding domain, so it can bind to ACE2 receptors on human cells. This offers a new avenue for targeting SARS-CoV-2, and treating COVID-19. Next, using machine learning, we have simulated the evolutionary landscape of the receptor binding domain, and discovered variants predicted to bind ACE2 better than circulating strains. These can guide design efforts towards a cross-variant, universal COVID-19 treatment.

Title talk:”Computational simulations of SARS-CoV-2″

Postdoctoral Researcher Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences Freie Universität Berlin.

Website: https://tsztain.github.io/

Twitter: @Terrasztain

Klaus Jäger

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Klaus Jäger has been doing research on solar energy for 15 years and is currently deputy department head at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie, where he leads optical simulations for solar cells. He has been active in science communication for many years because he is convinced that it is key to communicate with the general public about science in a clear way. Klaus is co-founder of LGBTQ STEM Berlin. Picture: Michael Setzpfandt

Heather MURDOCk

University of Potsdam

Bio: Heather’s passion is urban infrastructure, water, and resilient communities. As a PhD Researcher at the University of Potsdam in the Institute for Environmental Science and Geography her work on disaster risk reduction is directly connected to these interests. Heather holds a BSc in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University in her home country Canada and a MSc in Water Science and Engineering from IHE-Delft in the Netherlands. She is also a licensed professional engineer in Canada with 7 years of experience and has previously worked on flood adaptation and mapping projects for the public sector.

Talk Description: To reduce the impacts of floods we have many tools in our toolbox. One of these tools are Flood Early Warning Systems. When they work properly they can provide the public with timely and accurate information to move themselves and valuable objects out of harms way. They can improve life safety and reduce damage. In this talk, Heather Murdock will share insights from recent research on the performance of flood early warning systems in Germany and the outlook for innovation and improvements.

Project Officer at the ECSA – European Citizen Science Association Beatriz is not only a long-term Soapbox Science Berlin member but also a marine scientist who is now working at the European Citizen Science Association. As a project officer for EU-funded citizen science projects, Beatriz is passionate about democratization of science, equity and inclusion, and is involved in projects about air quality in European cities. Talk title “Citizen science: you can be a scientist too!” Websites: https://ecsa.citizen-science.net/ and https://eu-citizen.science/ Twitter (not personal): https://twitter.com/EuCitSci and https://twitter.com/eucitsciproject

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