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Science and Human Rights Coalition Announces 2021 Student Essay Competition Winners

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

34 students from 13 different countries entered the competition. The winners and finalists will be recognized at the October 2021 AAAS Science and Human Rights Virtual Conference.

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

Graduate Student Winner

Marco Travaglio, the graduate student winner of the 2021 Student Essay Competition.

Marco Travaglio, The University of Cambridge

Essay Title: "Solving the standstill: Right to science as a vehicle to global migration policies"

Marco Travaglio is currently pursuing a PhD in Toxicology at the MRC Toxicology Unit in collaboration with AstraZeneca. His research aims to generate novel mechanistic insights into the selective vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease. His project involves the use of both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell-based model systems to study the onset of the disease and its subsequent pathological manifestations. Before his PhD, Marco obtained his MSci degree in Neuroscience from The University of Nottingham, spending one year working in the Translational Neuroscience Unit of Eli Lilly. Passionate about communication, he is the former Editor-in-Chief of Knowing Neurons, an award-winning neuroscience website that connects graduate students, academics, and healthcare professionals across the globe. Driven by curiosity and innovation, he hopes to leverage his experience in life sciences to bridge the gap between early-stage innovation and pharmaceutical commercialisation to tackle the world’s most complex problems.

Undergraduate Student Winner

Quinn White, undergraduate winner of the 2021 Student Essay Competition.

Quinn White, Smith College

Essay Title: "Will Telehealth Revolutionize Access to Mental Health Care?"

Quinn White is currently a junior at Smith College majoring in Statistical and Data Sciences. She aims to pursue graduate work in Biostatistics, and hopes to focus on the intersection of statistics and public health.  She is particularly interested in considering the social determinants of health as well as how to improve the accessibility and quality of care for underserved populations.

Honorable Mention (Undergraduate)

Kalyani Ramadurgam, honorable mention in the undergraduate category for the Student Essay Competition.

Kalyani Ramadurgam, Stanford University

Essay Title: "AI and Human Rights: An Argument for the Field’s Tech Revolution"

Kalyani Ramadurgam is a Computer Science major and Human Rights minor in the Stanford Class of 2021. During her studies, she has invested herself in the intersection of technology and social impact by doing research with Stanford's Center for Human Rights, TAing a class on Human Trafficking, and taking her technical skills to a nonprofit that tackles the issue of domestic sex trafficking. She firmly believes in the potential of tech and AI to tackle the world's greatest issues in previously unforeseen ways, and is committed to using her skills to serve those who need it most.  

Honorable Mention (Undergraduate)

Zahra Ravat, honorable mention in the undergraduate category in the Student Essay Competition.

Zahra Ravat, Queen Mary University of London (Barts' and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry)

Essay Title: "The political clout of healthcare professionals: lessons from Myanmar"

Zahra recently graduated in medicine from Queen Mary University of London. She is currently working as a newly qualified doctor in Birmingham, UK. Zahra was awarded the MedTech National Essay Prize for her thesis on simulation in medicine. Zahra has a particular interest in medical technology, with a focus on AI, and its implications for human rights. 

Honorable Mention (Graduate)

Patrick Schumacher, honorable mention in the graduate category in the Student Essay Competition.

Patrick Schumacher, State University of New York at Albany

Essay Title: "An analysis of potential policies to increase access to health care for unauthorized immigrants in the United States"

Patrick is a doctoral student at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy in Albany, New York. He is studying public administration, with the aim of learning how to conduct rigorous research in the social sciences. Patrick is particularly interested in pursuing research related to health policy and in improving the efficiency of major governmental programs, like Medicare and Medicaid. While pursuing his studies, he works part-time for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public think-tank. Patrick also holds a master’s degree in public health.

Honorable Mention (Graduate)

Garrett Williams, honorable mention in the graduate category in the Student Essay Competition.

Garrett Williams, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Essay Title: "A Letter Addressing the Ambiguity of Human Privacy Rights in the Quantum Revolution"

Garrett R. Williams is a third-year PhD Candidate in the Department of Physics and the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology (IQUIST) Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated with honors from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with two B.S. degrees, in Physics and Chemistry. His research is in Ultracold Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics, focusing on making arrays of ultracold molecules that behave as well-controlled quantum systems. The goal of his research is to use these controllable quantum systems to develop novel, experimental approaches to quantum information science. He is also a science author, having won the 2020 APS History of Physics Essay Contest, and an outreach activist for increasing African American representation in physics. He is driven to expand the accessibility of quantum physics research to broader audiences and contribute to the widespread education of the public in quantum science.

The winners and finalists will be recognized at the Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference, hosted online by the Coalition October 21-22, 2021. Winners will receive $1,500 and a year of membership in AAAS, including a digital subscription to Science. Among other benefits, membership includes 51 weekly issues of Science, online access to Science articles and the Science archive, and networking opportunities within the AAAS community. Finalists also receive a free year of membership.

Many thanks to the judges:

Affiliations provided for identification purposes only

Ali Arab American Statistical Association/Georgetown University
Andrea Boggio Bryant University
Gisa Dang Treatment Action Group
Emily Elliot-Meisel Institute of International Education-Scholar Rescue Fund
Cathy Furlong Statistics Without Borders
Michele Irwin American Physical Society
Gita Jaffe Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice
Arthur Kendall Capital Area Social Psychology Association
Arthur J. Lustig Tulane University
Sarah Mancoll Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Steve Newell AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
Natallia Sianko Clemson University
Tal Simmons Virginia Commonwealth University
Jeffrey Toney Sigma Xi/Kean University
Gabriel Twose American Psychological Association
Yvonne Vissing Salem State University
Malwina Wojcik University of Bologna
Jessica Wyndham AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program



Nate Weisenberg

Senior Program Associate

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