29.09.2017 - 01.10.2017

Harnack-Haus, Berlin

This Year's Speakers


For this year's conference we aimed to invite speakers that can give a new perspective on their topic of research. We wanted to hear more about subjects that are unfamiliar to us, as well as lean about exciting new approches to well known problems. We hope to discuss the challenges and the success in different fields, and explore how these are translated into our lives and society.


Prof. Martin Beck

University of Southern Denmark

Prof. Beck's page
P. Burnap
Professor Dr. Martin Beck holds a chair of Contemporary Middle East Studies at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. From 2004 to 2012 he was a senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies in Hamburg, where he is now an associate research fellow. He taught, researched, and worked as a political advisor in Germany (Tübingen, Hamburg and Bremen), the Middle East (Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq), and the US (Denver, Colorado). He has published extensively both in German and English on Middle Eastern affairs. His main current research interests are the Arab Spring, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international oil politics and international relations of the Middle East. His latest publications and activities can be found here.

Talk Title: On the problematique of following visions: The case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

It is rather popular in academia to claim that it is crucial to develop and follow visions. It is actually plausible that without visions we are in danger of marking time, achieving no progress and of being satisfied with administering affairs rather than being innovative. However, as I trust that quite some fellows who give presentations in the conference will elaborate on visions from a positive angle, I take the liberty of pouring some cold water on the matter. Two arguments will be put forward. First, as it can be problematic when the research subjects of political scientists politicians follow visions, those politicians who are reluctant to do so may have a point. Moreover, given the problematique of political visions, rather than developing visions of his or her own, a social scientist may decide to confine one’s work to comprehend and critically discuss the (lack of) visions of political actors. Second, I aim at critically discussing the vision of “solving” the Israeli-Palestinian by promoting “peace”. It is argued that this mainstream perspective suffers from at least two flaws: Applying the “peace paradigm” can distract from comprehending reality on the ground. Moreover, the peace paradigm tends to legitimize fundamental injustice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Dr. Lutz Becks

MPI for Evolutionary Biology

Dr. Becks page
L. Becks
Dr. Luzt Becks holds an independent group leader position at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön since 2011. He is interest in eco-evolutionary dynamics in complex systems and the evolution of sex in an ecological context. His research is focus in understand how communities respond to changes in genetic diversity, rapid evolution, changes in intrinsic and extrinsic parameters, and food web structure. He seeks to link genetic and phenotypic variation to population dynamics, to understand the ecological consequences of evolutionary processes and the evolutionary consequences of ecological interactions (eco-evolutionary feedback dynamics). Therefore, he studies how ecologically important traits evolve under different ecological conditions and how phenotypic changes are determined at the genetic level and how genetic diversity is maintained (e.g., evolution of sex). His studies combined a data-driven mathematical modeling with empirical data derived from experiments using fast-growing organisms such us rotifers and green algae.

Talk Title: Rapid evolution: from genes to communities, and back again

Organisms can often adapt surprisingly quickly to changes in their environment. For instance the fast adaptation of resistance against pesticides or antibiotics, as well as the rapid coevolution of interacting species, suggest an abundant supply of adaptive genetic variation. There are however different evolutionary processes, namely mutation, recombination, selection, drift and demography that affect the rate and trajectories of evolutionary change on the genotypic and ultimately on the phenotypic level. Typically, these evolutionary forces act simultaneously and their respective contribution to the overall evolutionary outcome changes over time and space. Understanding their relative importance is still a central aim for evolutionary biology. This becomes in particular important with the notion of rapid evolution when adaptive changes and changes in population size occur at the same time scale, so called eco-evolutionary dynamics. When evolution acts on ecological timescales, these two types of dynamics are entangled and have the potential to drive each other with dramatic effects for stability of populations, the maintenance and the generation of genetic variation, as well as coexistence of species within communities. These entangled dynamics further complicate our interpretation of the roles of selection and demography, as the relative importance of the two might change rapidly and continuously. I will present results from our work where we combine experimental evolution studies with mathematical modelling and genome analyses to disentangle the relative roles of selection and demography over time in different communities.


Dr. Pete Burnap

Cardiff University

Dr. Burnap's page
P. Burnap
Dr Pete Burnap is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Cardiff University and Social Computing research priority area lead in the School of Computer Science & Informatics’ Complex Systems research group. He has developed a reputation for data-driven, innovative, and interdisciplinary research that broadly contributes to the growing field of Data Science, working closely with the Cardiff School of Social Sciences and School of Engineering. He is an applied computer scientist with a principal focus on data and computational methods to improve understanding, operations and decision making outside of academia, while contributing to the academic fields of Social Computing, Web Science and Cybersecurity. These three fields are integrated within his research through the analysis and understanding of Web-enabled human and software behaviour, with a particular interest in emerging and future risks posed to civil society, business (economies) and governments. He achieves this using computational methods such as machine learning and statistical data modelling, and interaction and behaviour mining, opinion mining and sentiment analysis to derive key features of interest. His research outcomes, which include more than 60 academic articles – stemming from funded research projects worth over £8million, are organised and disseminated via the Social Data Science Lab, within which he is a director and the computational lead. The Lab’s core funding comes from a £450k ESRC grant and it forms part of the £64m ‘Big Data Network’. Core funding runs between 2017 and 2020, during which time the Lab will host 5 post-doctoral researchers and 9 PhD students, all studying topics related to Risk, Safety & Human/Cybersecurity.

Talk Title: The Challenges and Opportunities of Interdisciplinary Social Data Science

In this talk I will explore the barriers to the exploration of social data (e.g. social media, blogs, news reports, behavioural data) by those who are best suited to do so. Computer scientists are trained to collect, transform, manipulate and model data - but not always how to explore, interpret and explicate the results. On the other hand, social scientist are trained in how to design experiments with social questions and social theory in mind, collate and analyse data, and interpret the results for meaningful outcomes. The Social Data Science Lab at Cardiff University is joining the many other efforts around the world to blend the best of these disciplines and produce world - leading research with impact. This talk will describe some of the motivations and outcomes of the research at the Social Data Science Lab, including contributions to computer science, social science, and public policy. The aim is to motivate the new-school of postgraduate students to think of academic data science efforts from a unified disciplinary perspective, rather than a collection of independent disciplines.


Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris

Imperial College London

Robin Carhart-Harris page
R. Carhart-Harris

Talk Title: The neurobiology and therapeutic application of psychedelic drugs

This talk will describe the latest research on the acute and longer-term action of psychedelic drugs on the brain and how this research informs on how these drugs may be used for therapeutic purposes such as in the treatment of major psychiatric disorders such as depression and addictions.


Prof. Peter D. Ditlevsen

Niels Bohr Institute

Prof. Ditlevsen's page
P. Ditlevsen
Peter D. Ditlevsen is Associate Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, in Copenhagen, where he teaches various courses related to geophysics and climate analysis. He is a member both of the Ice and Climate Group, and of the Complexity Group. His research is focused on climate dynamics, turbulence and fluid mechanics, meteorology, complex systems, time series analysis, and statistical physics. Recent topics of interest include the nature of non-linear changes due to climate forcing, the prediction of tipping points, and bifurcations in the climate system


Talk Title: Predictability, waiting times and tipping points in the climate

It is taken for granted that the limited predictability in the initial value problem, the weather prediction, and the predictability of the statistics are two distinct problems. Predictability of the first kind in a chaotic dynamical system is limited due to critical dependence on initial conditions. Predictability of the second kind is possible in an ergodic system, where either the dynamics is known and the phase space attractor can be characterized by simulation or the system can be observed for such long times that the statistics can be obtained from temporal averaging, assuming that the attractor does not change in time. For the climate system the distinction between predictability of the first and the second kind is fuzzy. On the one hand, weather prediction is not related to the inverse of the Lyapunov exponent of the system, determined by the much shorter times in the turbulent boundary layer. These time scales are effectively averaged on the time scales of the flow in the free atmosphere. On the other hand, turning to climate change predictions, the time scales on which the system is considered quasi-stationary, such that the statistics can be predicted as a function of an external parameter, say atmospheric CO2, is still short in comparison to slow oceanic dynamics. On these time scales the state of these slow variables still depends on the initial conditions. This fuzzy distinction between predictability of the first and of the second kind is related to the lack of scale separation between fast and slow components of the climate system. The non-linear nature of the problem furthermore opens the possibility of multiple attractors, or multiple quasi-steady states. As the paleoclimatic record shows, the climate has been jumping between different quasi-stationary climates. The question is: Can such tipping points be predicted? This is a new kind of predictability (the third kind). The Dansgaard-Oeschger climate events observed in ice core records are analyzed in order to answer some of these questions. The result of the analysis points to a fundamental limitation in predictability of the third kind.


Prof. Katrin Franke

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Prof. Franke's page
K. Franke
Katrin Franke is a professor in computer science within the information security environment at NTNU in Gjøvik. In 2007 she joined the Norwegian Information Security Lab (NISlab) with the mission to establish research and education in digital and computational forensics. In this context she was instrumental in setting up the partnership with the Norwegian police organisations as part of the Center for Cyber and information Security (CCIS). Dr. Franke is now leading the NTNU Digital Forensics group. Dr. Franke has 20+ years experiences in basic and applied research for financial services & law enforcement agencies (LEAs) working closely with banks and LEAs in Europe, North America and Asia.

Talk Title: To be defined



Prof. Caroline Rowland

MPI for Psycholinguistics

Prof. Rowland's page
C. Rowland
Caroline Rowland is the recently appointed Director of the Language Development Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and a co-Director of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (http://www.lucid.ac.uk), a multi-million pound collaboration between the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster. Her research focuses on how children learn to communicate with language, how the developing brain supports this process, and how it is affected by cross-linguistic, cultural and individual variation. Her first study into language development was a diary study in which she recorded every single question produced by her 2-year-old daughter over a 12-month period. Nowadays she has a better work-life balance. In recent work, she takes a multiple methods approach - experimental work, naturalistic data analysis and computer modelling – to test the predictions of different models of the child’s learning mechanism. Her textbook, Understanding Child Language Acquisition, is an introduction to the most important research on child language acquisition over the last fifty years, and to some of the most influential theories in the field.

Talk Title: Listening to children: New perspectives on the brain, on language, and on science, from studies on language development.

Language is the most sophisticated communication system known to man, yet children learn it before they can tie their shoelaces. To study how we acquire such a complex system so quickly requires a multi-disciplinary approach, combining techniques from computer science, neuroscience and psychology; it requires a cross-cultural approach, comparing acquisition across very different languages; and it requires a developmental approach, discovering how children’s language and cognitive system change with age. In this talk I will discuss some of the most recent findings on language development, illustrating the insights they have given us into how the brain develops, why languages differ (and why they are sometimes strikingly similar), and the importance of multidisciplinary “ team science ” in research today.


Dr. Prof. Johannes Vogel

Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin)

J. Vogel
Johannes Vogel is the General Director of the Museum of Natural History and Professor of Biodiversity and Public Dialogue at the Humboldt University, both in Berlin. He is an evolutionary biologist interested in biodiversity, plant evolution, climate change, change management and organizational development. In addition, he is the Chair of the Open Science Policy Platform of the EU Commission and the European Citizen Science Association. For the last 20 years he has been committed to improving public engagement with science, strengthening the role of museums, fostering discussions about open science, citizen science, and engaging in national and international science policy.

Talk Title: Innovation with Participation

In democracies, the 21st century knowledge society will not tolerate innovation without participation and without a scientific literate citizenry democracy will be hard to maintain. Science has to change to address the challenges arising from this assumption. The relationship between science, society and politics needs to be recalibrated – the biggest changes are firmly in the lap of science. Current trends and movements arising from within science itself (from open publishing to citizen science), but also processes and imaginations at EU level and in the EU Commission hint already at the forthcoming change. Young scientists of today have to be the drivers of this change.


Dr. Gudrun Wanner

MPI for Gravitational Physics

Dr. Wanner's page
G. Wanner
Dr. Gudrun Wanner is a senior scientist working in the Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy division of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute). An overview of her work can be found here.









Talk Title: Fascinating Gravitational Wave Science

The recent past was quite exciting for the gravitational wave community: LIGOs initial detection of gravitational waves in September 2015 and its announcement in February 2016 covered magazines worldwide. This first discovery was followed by several more detections so that we can now say that a long awaited field of physics is born: the field of gravitational wave astronomy. Additionally, the launch of LISA Pathfinder in December 2015 and the first publication of the very successful mission results in June 2016 proved impressively, that the technology needed for a gravitational wave detector in space is ready. In this talk, I will give an overview and put this into context by discussing a wide range of questions: What are LIGO, LISA Pathfinder, LISA - and VIRGO, GEO600, KAGRA What are gravitational waves, why are they so hard to detect and why are we so interested in them? Why do we want to send detectors to space, when our ground based detectors already sense gravitational waves? And finally: what do we learn from observing the universe with gravitational waves?


Science and Society Panel Speakers


This year's conference will include two special Science and Society sessions. The first session will focus on "Climate Change" and the second on "Open Science and Science Communication". We've invited speakers from various fields to participate in these two sessions and give them special perspectives on the topics.


Society and Climate Change

Opening talk by Prof. Peter D. Ditlevsen, Niels Bohr Institute
Panel Speakers:
Jonathan Donges, Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research
Corinna Enders, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety
Ilona M. Otto, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Grischa Perino, Universität Hamburg


Open Science and Science Communication

Opening talk by Prof. Johannes Vogel, Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin)
Panel Speakers:
Holger Dambeck, leader of the Science & Health section, Spiegel Online
Maaike Pols, F1000
Rodrigo Perez Garcia, KLAS Coordinator & Founder (polyhedra.eu)
Caterina Benincasa, KLAS core member
Gudrun Wanner, MPI for Gravitational Physics