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Science and Human Rights Coalition Announces 2016 Student Essay Competition Winners

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition has announced the winners of its third 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. 

42 students from 10 different countries entered the competition. The essays represented a wide range of scientific topics, including child psychology and development; personalized medicine; assistive technologies; food security; information technology; research ethics; environmental disasters; forensic science; and the place of ethnic, racial, and gender identity in scientific research. The winners will be recognized at the July 25, 2016 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner

Julie Fleischman, Michigan State University
Essay Title: “Skeletal Analysis after Crimes Against Humanity and Genocides: Implications for Human Rights”

Ms. Fleischman is an Anthropology doctoral student at Michigan State University.  She is completing her dissertation research on human remains from the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia; she is focusing on the skeletal injuries as well as how the remains are understood in contemporary Cambodian society.  Her primary research interests include forensic anthropology, human rights, and skeletal trauma. 



Undergraduate Student Winner

Tanner Rolfe, University of Dayton
Essay Title: “Living Water: A Catholic Social Teaching Perspective on PFOA and Human Rights”

Tanner is currently a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in mechanical engineering with an intended minor in mechanical systems. He has a special interest in applications of shape-changing mechanisms and is currently involved in undergraduate research focused on kinematic synthesis of variable geometry linkages. He says, "I love the design process: it allows me to express my creativity while giving me the opportunity to apply my skills in a practical and significant way.After graduation, he hopes to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in engineering, and aspires to one day earn PE licensure. 



Honorable Mention for Creativity and Originality

Priyanka Menon, Harvard University
Essay Title: “Mathematics and the Question of Human Rights”

Priyanka Menon graduated from Harvard College in 2016 with a B.A. in Mathematics and a secondary in History. She is primarily interested in the histories and theories of human rights, political violence, and civil disobedience.


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 is supported by the AAAS-Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education and Human Rights

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:  

  • Ali Arab, Georgetown University
  • Art Kendall, Capital Area Social Psychological Association
  • Brad Wible, AAAS / Science
  • Brian Root, Human Rights Watch
  • Carol Valoris, Committee of Concerned Scientists
  • Claire Sabel, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
  • Diaa Ahmed, independent research physicist
  • Elaine Scheye, The Scheye Group, Ltd.
  • Heather Gingerich, medical geologist
  • Jeanne Braha, AAAS Public Engagement
  • Jessica Wyndham, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
  • John Gardenier, retired from CDC/National Center for Health Statistics
  • Jonathan Kaufman, Advocates for Community Alternatives
  • Joseph Carson, American Society of Mechanical Engineers Tennessee Chapter
  • Laureen Summers, AAAS Project on Science, Technology and Disability
  • Lewis Gordon, Environmental Defender Law Center
  • Liljana Stevceva, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Medical School
  • Margaret Vitullo, American Sociological Association
  • Melissa McCartney, AAAS Science in the Classroom
  • Michael Best, Georgia Institute of Technology / UNU Institute on Computing and Society
  • Michele Irwin, American Physical Society
  • Sage Russell, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows
  • Sam McFarland, Western Kentucky University
  • Sofia Ferber, American Psychological Association student representative
  • Susan Hinkins, NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Tammy J. Ladwig, University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley
  • Toni Carbo, Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)
  • William Davis, Physicians for Human Rights
  • William Lenart, Case Western Reserve University
  • Wm. David Burns, National Center for Science and Civic Engagement
  • Jonathan Drake, AAAS Geospatial Technologies Project