For Research. For Berlin.

#AskDifferent – the Podcast of the Einstein Foundation

#AskDifferent – the Podcast of the Einstein Foundation
#AskDifferent, the Einstein Foundation’s podcast series, offers a unique behind-the-scenes opportunity to learn more about the pioneering minds affiliated with and funded by the Foundation, and to find out how their outstanding careers were shaped both by chance and circumstance. What is it that drives them to ask differently, to perpetually ask new questions, and explore the world in all its detail?

#30: Tarik Abou-Chadi

Dem Wahlverhalten auf der Spur

Bundestagswahlen sind immer wie Geburtstag, findet der leidenschaftliche Politikwissenschaftler Tarik Abou-Chadi. Er hat eine steile Karriere bis zur Professur in Oxford hingelegt – auch dank seiner Fähigkeit, mit den richtigen Fragen Debatten anzustoßen. „Ist unsere Parteiendemokratie auch künftig das geeignete System, um große Herausforderungen wie den Klimawandel anzugehen?“, ist nur eine davon. In seiner Forschung untersucht er, warum sich die Menschen in Europa zunehmend für extrem rechte Parteien entscheiden und wie sich deren Erfolg auf die politische Landschaft auswirkt. Mit Nancy Fischer spricht Tarik Abou-Chadi außerdem über die vielbeschworene „Protestwahl“ und verrät, wie Regierungen gegensteuern können.

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#29: Stefan Hecht

Die Faszination des Lichts

Licht macht sichtbar, setzt in Szene oder ruft Stimmungen hervor – und ist essentiell für Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation. Doch was ist Licht genau? Wie lässt sich Licht interdisziplinär erforschen und nutzen? Und was hat Licht mit 3D-Druck zu tun? Stefan Hecht ist Berliner, Einstein-Professor für Organische Chemie und funktionale Materialien an der Humboldt-Universität und Mitgründer des Startups „xolo“. Im Podcast #AskDifferent steckt er uns an mit seiner Vision nachhaltiger Forschung und innovativer Materialien für nachkommende Generationen. Er verrät uns, warum man Berlin auch gern verlassen kann, welche Rolle Humor und Streit für ihn spielen und wieso er Studierenden Mut vermitteln möchte, ihre Forschung in die praktische Anwendung zu bringen.  

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#28: Beate Kampmann

The Global Physician

Recent years have taught us that diseases can easily transcend national borders in today's interconnected world. How can we secure health on a global scale, especially when there are such stark disparities between different regions? Beate Kampmann is one of the leading researchers into childhood tuberculosis and vaccines, and Scientific Director of the Center for Global Health at Charité - Universitätsmedizin. A physician with a wealth of international experience, Kampmann aims to tackle the idea of global health investments as a form of humanitarian aid and change the understanding of this vital field - especially by broadening the perspective of the Global North. In this thought-provoking episode of #askdifferent, Beate Kampmann explores the multifaceted challenges and opportunities for Global Health and offers insights into how to foster progress by stressing the importance of its character as a collaborative networking activity.

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#27: ManyBabies5

Inside a Baby's Mind

What is going on in babies' minds? What do they think and feel? Jessica Kosie and Martin Zettersten are not only looking for answers to these questions - they are cooperating with more than 200 scientists in 40 countries to define the fundamentals needed to establish research globally. The challenges they face are not easy to solve: Since babies are unable to speak, they cannot answer our questions directly. In this episode of #AskDifferent, the Einstein Foundation Award 2021 winners talk about finding ways around that obstacle, what we can learn from studying babies' attention, their gazes and preferences, and how parents and adults can benefit from that knowledge.

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#26: Riccardo Giovanni Urso

Is there Life in Space?

Are we alone in space? What could extraterrestrial life forms look it? And how do we find them? These questions are almost as old as mankind itself. Natural Scientist and former Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow Riccardo Giovanni Urso tries to answer them every day. In this episode of #AskDifferent, he talks about his scientific journeys through space, basic ingredients for life, and why he would love to be onboard a mission to mars.

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#25: Paul Ginsparg

The godfather of open access publishing

Preprints have been shared in the physics community since the early 1950s but mostly among well established professors. Physicist Paul Ginsparg, who received the first Einstein Foundation's Individual Award for Promoting Quality in Research in 2021, set out to democratize access to scientific results. Today, his preprint server has spread to many other fields - and made science progress more efficient and fairer. In this episode, he reflects on his motivation to create back in 1991, the ways it has changed and still changes scientific processes today and the fact that the availability of scientific information may attract young people to become scientists.

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#24: Anna Löwa

Bleibt kreativ!

Mini-Organe aus der Petrischale: Die Biotechnologin Anna Löwa beschäftigt sich in ihrer Forschung mit sogenannten Organoiden, speziellen Zellkulturen beispielsweise des Gehirns oder der Lunge. Diese Organoide können die Strukturen und Funktionen einzelner Organe darstellen und damit einen Zugang zur Erforschung und Behandlung menschlicher Erkrankungen ermöglichen. Die junge Wissenschaftlerin ist Postdoc am Einstein-Zentrum 3R für alternative Methoden in der biomedizinischen Forschung. Foto: Privat.

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#23: Bertil Tungodden

How to Make a Difference

Can behavioral economics change the world? Yes, thinks Bertil Tungodden, the Centre for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality, and Rationality in Bergen and Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Humboldt University. His comparative studies aim at explaining why people have a different idea of when existing inequalities are actually unfair. In this episode, he gives insight into the experiments he designs to find out about the norms & values underlying decision making – and explains why, by the effects of his research, he can make a little difference. Photo: private.

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#22: Britta Tietjen

Wenn die Spree rückwärts fließt

Mancherorts ist der Wasserstand der langsam fließenden Spree so niedrig, dass sie gar ihre Laufrichtung ändert: Ein Beispiel, an denen die Ökologin Britta Tietjen erklärt, wie es um die Ressource Wasser in Berlin-Brandenburg steht. Als Sprecherin der Einstein Research Unit "Climate and Water Under Change (CliWaC)", modelliert Tietjen mögliche Zukunftsszenarien von regionalen Ökosystemen. Foto: Privat.

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#21: Andrew Hurrell

Brave Old World

Everyone is familiar with globalization, its problems and discontents. But how to correspond to it politically? Andrew Hurrell is Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and has spent much time studying liberal ideas about globalization: how it has evolved in modern times as well as its current challenges like populism, pandemics, climate change, and war. As an Einstein Visiting Fellow, Andrew Hurrell seeks to understand why adopting truly internationalist policies is so difficult today. Please note: The interview was recorded in 2021, months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Andrew Hurrell/Oxford University

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#20: Chris Sander

Mapping the Labyrinth

Chris Sander, Professor for Cell Biology from Harvard Medical School and one of the founders of bioinformatics, works to understand the "labyrinth" of cancer growth. The aim of his current research as an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Berlin Institute of Health is to find out how to block the side doors through which aggressive cancer types manage to escape medical blockage during a treatment. Starting his career as a physicist, it took him some turns to get where he is today. His advice for young researchers: stick with science, look for mentors - and ask the right questions. Photo: Chris Sander/

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#19: Dorothy Bishop

Overcoming Our Biases

Careful work and self-criticism is not rewarded enough in today's accelerated research culture, Dorothy Bishop thinks. A jury member of the 2021 Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research, the Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the University of Oxford advocates for evidence-driven, open science practices and a new incentive structure. In the interview, the experienced teacher and mentor shares her ideas how to increase public trust in science and encourages every scholar who encounters systemic problems to try and change them. Photo: Dorothy Bishop

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#18: Vittorio Gallese

We Are Relational Beings

As a social neuroscientist, Vittorio Gallese has a unique understanding of how we live together. Until recently, he headed a research group at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain focusing on the development of socio-cultural identities. Back in Italy, the Professor of Psychobiology from Università di Parma, who is widely known for his discovery of mirror neurons, continues to explore the cognitive structures of empathy and sympathy. An episode about the lockdown experience, the ambivalences of digital media, and the role of effort and coincidence in scientific breakthroughs. Photo: Florian Büttner

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#17: Talja Blokland

Where Our Paths Cross

What do sports clubs, cafés, shisha bars, and football stadiums tell us about society? Talja Blokland, urban sociology professor at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, has answers. As a member of the Einstein Circle ”Large-Scale Organization”, she has studied a wealth of locations seeking to understand how urban space is structured, and how inequalities are perpetuated. Our community lives are shaped by unpredictability, neighborhood gossip, and new acquaintances, she explains, highlighting the effects of gentrification in urban centers. Photo: HU Berlin/Falk Weiß. Language: German

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#16: Viola Vogel

The World Is a Laboratory

Viola Vogel, a biomedical engineer at ETH Zurich and Einstein Visiting Fellow at Charité – Universtitätsmedizin, explores the ways in which mechanical forces affect cells and impact their growth and movement. By better understanding nanoscale cell processes, she hope to unlock a range of new therapies to prompt the regeneration of tissue damaged by diseases such as COVID-19 pneumonia or cancer. In this podcast episode, Vogel shares her enthusiasm for research, and her experiences in bringing together science and politics. Language: German

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#15: Carsten Finke

The Memory Researcher

Can you rely on your memory? To what extent are memories constructed? Can lost knowledge be restored after a brain-damaging illness? The research of the neurologist Carsten Finke from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin and the Berlin School of Mind and Brain touches on both cognitive and philosophical questions. In the podcast, he reports on amazing studies, and makes it clear how adaptable the human brain really is. Language: German

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#14: Felix Biessmann

Transparent Data

Algorithms and machine learning have become part of our everyday lives. These technologies are also paving the way for innovations in scientific research, e.g. into brain-machine interfaces (BMI). But their various applications still require at least some human intervention. The ethics of these pioneering technologies must be considered to ensure they are used responsibly. As Professor of Machine Learning at the Einstein Center Digital Future and the Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Felix Biessmann focuses on the data that powers these automated technologies and argues for greater transparency in the field. Language: German

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#13: Günter Stock

Freedom and Responsibility

For this year's final episode of #AskDifferent, we spoke about freedom and responsibility in research with Günter Stock, Chair of the Einstein Foundation's Executive Board. In this episode, we look back on how Berlin evolved into an international science and research hub, and outline the criteria that make public-private partnerships successful. Not least, our guest identifies ways to promote good scientific practice by looking at the newly established Einstein Foundation Award.
Language: German

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#12: Richard Samuels

What It Takes to Be a Brave Scholar

For a special episode in the wake of the US presidential elections, we spoke with Richard Samuels, Director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, about American national identity and the current role of the United States on the geopolitical stage. Find out why, according to the former Einstein Visiting Fellow anarchy in international affairs is endlessly fascinating, and what he thinks it takes to be a “brave scholar”. Photo: Pablo Castagnola

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#11: Irene Sibbing-Plantholt

Letters from the Past

Irene Sibbing-Plantholt is passionate about micro-history: the multiple, often relatable stories of everyday life in a past era. As an Assyriologist and research associate at the Einstein Center Chronoi, Sibbing-Plantholt examines textual and archeological findings from Ancient Mesopotamia, mostly letters inscribed on clay tablets, some of them around 5000 years old. When she went to Syria for an excavation in 2004, she got inspired to do further research on ancient concepts of lifetime and death.

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#10: Georg Duda

Mechanisms of Healing

What do materials science and mathematics have in common with medicine and biochemistry? Georg Duda, Professor for Engineering Regenerative Therapies at the Berlin Institute of Health, offers an answer: The combination of these areas, called biothinking, promises a deeper understanding of the forces that affect body tissues and cells. Furthermore, Duda is Spokesman at the Einstein Center for Regenerative Therapies. Language: German

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#9: Isabel Dziobek

Teaching an Invisible Language

Isabel Dziobek's research helps people living on the autistic spectrum. For that, the professor for Clinical Psychology of Social Interaction at the HU Berlin works closely with those affected: Together they decode the complex language of emotions and develop tools to better navigate through the daily flood of non-verbal communication. Dziobek, who is a member of the Einstein Center Neurosciences, is furthermore a dedicated mentor for young scientists - especially women. Language: German

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#8: Markus Ralser

The Inner Power Station

Einstein professor Markus Ralser is a molecular biologist and an expert in metabolic research: An important basic research that after being increasingly moved into the background of genetic research in the 1980s, is now experiencing a renaissance. Understanding metabolic regulation processes provides crucial insights for future therapies, such as cancer and immune diseases. Ralser gives an insight into how today machine learning contributes to understanding metabolism, and why you sleep better after n exhausting canoe tour. Language: German

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#7: Christoph Markschies

The Time Traveler

Acceleration, migration, inflation: In conversation with Christoph Markschies, the newly appointed President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, it immediately becomes clear that these experiences are hardly exclusive to modernity. Markschies, who is Professor of Ancient Christianity and co-director of the Einstein Center Chronoi, is a perpetual time traveler who seeks to help us better understand the present. His self-defined mission as a researcher: to contribute to a just and peaceful society. Language: German

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#6: Michel Chaouli

Rethinking Critique

As readers, how do we respond to a book? Does it spark our creativity? Does it trigger pain? Michel Chaouli, German studies scholar and Einstein Visiting Fellow at FU Berlin’s Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School, thinks of literary studies as an experiment, and treats texts as laboratories. His research inspires us to look beyond the sober side of critique and to also explore its playful and poetic aspects. Photo: Pablo Castagnola. Language: German

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#5: Claudia Buß

Stress in Early Life

The effects of maternal stress on fetal development are poorly researched. Claudia Buß, Professor of Medical Psychology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin and the Einstein Center for Neurosciences, is determined to change this and has set out to explore the prenatal factors that determine women’s health during pregnancy.
Language: German

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#4: Tilman Santarius

The Perpetual Optimist

Tilman Santarius, Professor of Socio-Ecological Transformation and Sustainable Digitalization at the Einstein Center Digital Future, is convinced that digital transformation has to be fair both on society and on the climate. In this episode of our podcast, he asks what role science and industry – and ultimately, all of us – have to play as we move forward. Language: German

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#3: Friedel Gerfers

Silicon Valley and Back

Friedel Gerfers's career has taken him from Germany’s “rust belt”, the Ruhrgebiet, where he worked as an electrical engineer laying underground cables, to the R&D departments of Silicon Valley’s tech giants. Today, he is Einstein Professor of Mixed Signal Circuit Design at TU Berlin, where he focuses on improving data transmission efficiency. In this episode, he explains why he feels as comfortable in the lab as he does back home on his parents' farm. Photo: TU Berlin/Arnoldt
Language: German

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#2: Valentina Forini

You Will Be Challenged

Valentina Forini first graduated in classical piano. Looking for an additional challenge, she decided to study physics. Today, Forini conducts research in string and quantum field theory as an Einstein Junior Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She told us what drove her to follow this path - and why we need more female role models in top-notch science. Photo: Henning Maier-Jantzen

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#1: Surjo Soekadar

I’ve Always Been a Technophile

Surjo Soekadar is Einstein Professor of Clinical Neurotechnology and a senior physician at Charité – Universitätsmedizin. In this episode, he explains why researchers need to be good at handling setbacks, and how high-tech mind reading works. Language: German

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#0: Welcome to the Einstein Podcast

Why Researchers #AskDifferent

Once a month, we will be releasing new episodes of our podcast, #AskDifferent. Hosted by journalists Nancy Fischer and Leon Stebe, each episode will feature an interview with a brilliant mind who asks differently.

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