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Technology breakthrough of the year: Compelling science driven by curious minds

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Technology breakthrough of the year: Compelling science driven by curious minds

Recorded 17 July 2018


Join some of today’s most innovative and accomplished thinkers, scientists, and entrepreneurs as they discuss the future of science and technology. This webinar panel discussion is part of the Curious2018 – Future Insight conference, hosted by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, on the occasion of its 350th anniversary. The illustrious panelists represent a broad range of fields, including synthetic biology, artificial intelligence (AI), astrobiology/solar system exploration, and material sciences. Moderated by Tim Appenzeller, News Editor for Science magazine, the two-hour roundtable discussion will delve into how breakthroughs in science and technology are born, and attempt to predict what direction these fields will take over the next century and beyond, and how advances in technology will impact the planet and its inhabitants. Will AI bring an end to society as we know it, as some anticipate? What impact might the discovery of extraterrestrial life have on our understanding of the universe, and indeed of human evolution? And how might the development of new materials or advances in synthetic biology enhance—or diminish—our lives?

More information on the panelists and their backgrounds can be found at

This webinar will last for approximately 2 hours.

Speaker bios

Mary A. Voytek, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Voytek is the senior scientist for astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at National Air and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters in Washington, D.C. She is the founding director of Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, a NASA research coordination network dedicated to the study of planetary habitability. Before working at NASA she was at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Reston, Virginia, where she headed the USGS Microbiology and Molecular Ecology Laboratory. She has degrees in biochemistry, biology, and ocean sciences. Her primary research interests are aquatic microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, and she has worked in several extreme environments, including Antarctica, the Arctic, hypersaline lakes, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and terrestrial deep-subsurface sites.

Yang Shao-Horn, Ph.D.

Cambridge, MA

Dr. Shao-Horn is the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research is centered on exploiting chemical/materials physics and physical/materials chemistry principles at interfaces and in the bulk, in order to design materials and processes and to control the kinetics of (electro)chemical reactions, including lithium-ion battery storage and the manufacture of sustainable fuels, both of which play a critical role in the deployment of clean-energy and clean-air technologies. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and Highly Cited Researchers (Thomson Reuters), based on 250-plus archival journal papers and 200-plus lectures.

Christina Smolke, Ph.D.

Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Dr. Smolke is professor, associate chair of education, and W. M. Keck Foundation Faculty Scholar in the Department of Bioengineering and (by courtesy) Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Her academic research program develops foundational tools that drive transformative advances in our ability to engineer biological systems. She is also cofounder and CEO of Antheia, which leverages advances in synthetic biology, genomics, informatics, and fermentation to transform how we make and discover many of our most important medicines. Her impact in advancing the frontiers of biotechnology has been recognized with numerous honors—she has been funded as a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator, been named to the Nature’s 10 list and the AIMBE College of Fellows, and received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the WTN Award in Biotechnology, and the TR35 Award.

Friederike Schüür, Ph.D.

New York, NY

Dr. Schüür is a research engineer at Cloudera, where she imagines what machine learning (ML) in industry will look like in the near future. She dives into new ML capabilities and builds prototypes that showcase state-of-the-art technology applied to real-world situations. She advises clients on how to make use of new ML capabilities, from devising strategy to hands-on collaboration with in-house technical teams. She earned a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from University College London, and is an advisor to a health care startup (Stealth), and a Data Science for Social Good volunteer with DataKind.

Matt Rosseinsky, Ph.D.

University of Liverpool
Liverpool, U.K.

Dr. Rosseinsky obtained his undergraduate degree and D. Phil. in chemistry from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. He was a postdoctoral member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories before returning to the University of Oxford as a lecturer in chemistry. In 1999, he moved to the University of Liverpool as professor of inorganic chemistry. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008, and was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 2011. In 2013, he became a Royal Society Research Professor. He was awarded the inaugural de Gennes Prize for Materials Chemistry (an international, lifetime achievement award) by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2009, the C.N.R. Rao Award of the Chemical Research Society of India in 2010, and in 2017 gave the Muetterties Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lee Lecture at the University of Chicago.

Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D.

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
Berlin, Germany

Dr. Charpentier is a French microbiologist, geneticist, and biochemist. She is a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, honorary professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, and recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. Prior to her current appointments, she worked at several other institutions in Germany, Sweden, Austria, the United States, and France. Her research on a bacterial immune system contributed to the groundbreaking CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering technology. She has received numerous prestigious awards and distinctions, and is an elected member of several academies of sciences. She is cofounder of CRISPR Therapeutics and ERS Genomics.

Tim Appenzeller

Tim is the News Editor for Science magazine.

Tim Appenzeller leads Science’s award-winning news section and supervises its global team of staff and freelance writers and editors. He has spent 30 years as an editor and writer specializing in science and the environment for magazines including Scientific American, U.S. News & World Report, and National Geographic.

His National Geographic article “The Case of the Missing Carbon” won the Walter Sullivan award for excellence in science journalism in 2005, and his June 2007 National Geographic cover story on global warming, “The Big Thaw,” shared an award for best explanatory reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Appenzeller was Science’s Features Editor during the 1990s, and most recently was Chief Magazine Editor at Nature, responsible for its journalism and opinion.  

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