Falling Walls Lab at Illinois


Winners and Judges at Falling Walls Lab

Full news release

The Falling Walls Lab idea competition was a success! Natalie Kerr, a senior in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Springfield, won the judges over with her proposition to solve the way agricultural runoff harms wetland environments. The runner-up was Northern Illinois University's Di'Quan Ishmon, a sophomore in mechatronics engineering. A panel of judges made up of leaders from Illinois’ public universities selected Kerr’s presentation out of a field of 12 young researchers and entrepreneurs who represented five of the state’s public universities.

In November, Natalie will present her idea at the competition's global finale in Berlin, Germany. The global finale takes place on the eve of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, symbolizing the breakthroughs of these ideas. She credits her research professor, who encouraged her to apply for the competition, and the small campus at UIS, which allowed her to design her own research project and take it in the direction she was passionate about, for her success.

"Natalie's idea could truly be a game-changer in protecting wetland environments," said Ed Seidel, University of Illinois System vice president for economic development and innovation. "It was thrilling to hear the variety of interesting solutions to large scale problems that all of themes students presented at today's event."