Science and Human Rights Coalition Announces 2015 Student Essay Competition Winners

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition has announced the winners of its second annual student essay competition. The competition was open to undergraduate and graduate students, who were invited to write an essay on any topic at the intersection of science, technology and human rights. 

29 students from 8 different countries entered the competition. The essays represent a wide range of scientific topics: neuroscience, biology, ‘Big Data’, forensic anthropology, science policy, STEM education, wildlife ecology, environmental sustainability, sociology, medicine, global health, science ethics, stem cell research, materials engineering, crowd-sourcing, computer science, biotechnology, genetics, agricultural sciences, climate change, and information technology. Many essays highlighted potential contributions of science and technology to protecting human rights, while others gave thoughtful consideration to ways in which human rights principles can inform scientific research and practice.

Graduate Student Winner

First Place: Wasima Khan, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Essay Title: "Profits, Medicine, and the Human Right to Health in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Educating (Future) Business Leaders"

Undergraduate Student Winner

First Place: Lauren Y. Chan, Queen's University
Essay Title: “The Pursuit of Perfection? Fetal Genetic Screening"

Honorable Mentions

Jonah S. Rubin, University of Chicago
Essay Title: “Spain’s Laboratory of Hope and Dignity: Scientific Exhumations and the Making of Dead Citizens"

Neha Shah, Georgetown University
Essay Title: "The Structural Human Rights Violations of Malaria"

The authors of the two winning essays will each receive one year of membership in AAAS, which among other benefits includes 51 weekly issues of Science, online access to Science articles and the Science archive, networking opportunities within the AAAS community and more. The essays will be considered for publication in the AAAS Professional Ethics Report. 

The competition was organized by the Coalition’s Outreach and Communications Committee, with leadership from Ali Arab and Jeffrey Toney. Lucas Hackl, Penn State university, chaired the competition committee.

Competition judges were:    

  • Elizabeth Ambos, Executive Director, Council for Undergraduate Research
  • Ali Arab, Assistant Professor of Statistics, Georgetown University
  • Lori Brown, Senior Associate, Office of International Activities, American Chemical Society
  • Surabhi Chaturvedi, student, National Law Institute University, Bhopal (2014 essay competition winner)
  • Edward G. Derrick, Chief Program Director, AAAS Center of Science, Policy & Society Programs
  • Joshua Ettinger, Program Assistant, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program   
  • Rebecca Everly, Director, Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine
  • Mary Gray, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, American University       
  • Lucas Fabian Hackl, graduate student, Penn State Department of Physics  
  • J. Britt Holbrook, Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology   
  • Molly Land, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law  
  • Wasiu Lawal, graduate student, University of Texas at Arlington (2014 essay competition winner)
  • Tiffany Lohwater, Director of Meetings and Public Engagement, AAAS    
  • Melvyn B. Nathanson, Professor of Mathematics, City University of New York and Chair, American Mathematical Society Committee on Human Rights of Mathematicians    
  • Susannah Sirkin, Director for International Policy/Senior Advisor, Physicians for Human Rights    
  • Janet Stocks, Dean, School of Education at Trinity Washington University   
  • Laureen Summers, Program Associate, AAAS Project on Science, Technology and Disability    
  • Jeffrey Toney, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Kean University       
  • Jessica Wyndham, Associate Director, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and Coordinator of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition

Cover image: Supplying Medicines to Prevent Sickness and Diarrhoea, dfid