CUNY Nobel Science Challenge


The 2013 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge: The Science Behind the Prize

A Competition for CUNY Undergraduate Students


The Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics have recently been announced.  CUNY undergraduate students are invited to describe, in 1000-1500 words, the scientific concepts behind the work for which one of the 2013 Nobel winners received their respective prize and the present and future significance of the research to humanity. The essays must make the science accessible to the lay person.

Please see important notes below for additional details.


Essays will be read and judged by a distinguished CUNY faculty committee. Three prizes will be awarded in each category (physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics) and one additional prize will be awarded to the best essay submitted.


Essays must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on  December 5, 2013.  They should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format and submitted via the formstack below. If you have any questions or can not upload your essay please contact

Questions may also be submitted to the email address above.



First Prize:         Apple iMac Computer
Second Prize:    Apple iPad w/retina display
Third Prize:        Amazon Kindle Fire
                             wireless reader

First Prize winners from each category will be forwarded to a second faculty committee that will select the Grand Prize winner for the best essay submitted overall.  Please note that previous first prize winners are not eligible for this year's competition. The winner will receive a Grand Prize of $3,000.

Important notes:

  • Essays that exceed the word count (1,500 maximum) will be rejected. (Bibliographies, charts, etc. do not count toward word limit).
  • Essays will be judged on accuracy and clarity.
  • To check for accuracy, we encourage discussing the concepts that you will expand upon in your essay with a professor, but note that essays must be your own original and independent work.
  • No portion of your essay may be copied from other sources without appropriate citing of the sources. Essays will be checked for original content using source-verification software. You must cite your sources within the text and as a list at the end of the document.
  • When you submit your essay, includ the following in the body of the email: your college, major, class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior or senior) and the best telephone number where you can be contacted.

The Nobel Challenge is open to all first degree undergraduate students currently registered in a degree program at CUNY

Please use the form below or click HERE to submit your essay

Winners will be announced in February, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions >


2012 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge winning essays >

2011 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge winning essays >

2010 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge winning essays >

2009 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge winning essays >




2013 Nobel winners


Physiology or Medicine    

For their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells
Awarded jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof



For the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider
Awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs



For the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems
Awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel



For their empirical analysis of asset prices
Awarded jointly to Eugene F. Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert J. Shiller