2010 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge



In response to our challenge to CUNY undergraduate students we received 154 essays - 75 in physiology and medicine, 37 in Physics, 21 in Chemistry, and 21 in Economics.

A CUNY Distinguished Professor in each field (Ruth Stark, Chemistry; Nicholas Freudenberg, Physiology & Medicine; Myriam Sarachik, Physics; and Robert Schwartz, Economics) was asked to form and head a committee of CUNY faculty to review the essays in their category. They then gave their committee recommendations for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. The winners, were selected by the committees listed below.

Program Description

CUNY undergraduate students were invited to submit an essay of 1000-1500 words that described the science behind one of this year's Nobel Prizes. Essays were read and judged by a distinguished CUNY faculty committee.

Grand Prize Winner:  Mr. Joshua Felipe, Senior at Hunter College Bio <doc> Essay <pdf>



  • 1st place: Mr. Joshua Felipe, Senior at Hunter College Bio <doc> Essay <pdf>
  • 2nd place: Ms. Zainab Aslam, Junior in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter Bio <doc> Essay <pdf>
  • 3rd place: Mr. Walter Zielkowski, Junior in the Macaulay Honors College at Baruch Bio <doc> Essay <doc>


Physiology or Medicine

  • 1st place: Mr. Ioannis Demopoulos, Junior at Queens College Bio <doc> Essay <pdf>
  • 2nd place: Ms. Kathleen Siapno, Third year at The City College, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education Bio <doc> Essay <doc>
  • 3rd place: Ms. Alyssa Ip, Junior in the Macaulay Honors College at Baruch Bio <doc> Essay <doc>

The Nobel Science Challenge Award Ceremony was held Thursday February 24th 2011, at CUNY's 80th Street Central Office, where the grand prize was awarded to senior Joshua Felipe from Hunter College.

The CUNY Nobel Science Challenge was the brainchild of Vice Chancellor for Research, Gillian Small, who wanted CUNY's students to contribute to science literacy in New York City. The challenge was to write an essay describing the work that went into the 2011 Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Economics, Physics, and Physiology/Medicine.

Each essay had to communicate the science in a way that could be understood by the general public. More than 150 essays were submitted from undergraduates across the CUNY system.
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Each committee selected first, second and third place prize winners in each category, and these awards, including Apple iMac computers, i-pads, and Kindle eBook readers, were presented at the ceremony.  As a bonus, the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) awarded a 1-year membership to the four first place winners.

The first place essays in each category were then reviewed by a committee of outside experts (Brian Greene, co-Founder of the World Science Festival and Professor of Physics at Columbia University; Stacie Bloom, Vice President and Scientific Director of NYAS; and
Terry Krulwich, Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine) to identify a Grand Prize winner. The external committee selected Mr. Felipe for the Grand Prize.

The award ceremony was an impressive display of commitment to the ideals of science from both our students and faculty and paved the way for future science literacy endeavors in our local communities.

To show support for the winners surrounded by their families and friends, were CUNY Board of Trustees member Rita DiMartino; Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges Eduardo Marti; Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Frank Sanchez; Provost Vita Rabinowitz (Hunter College); Acting Dean, School of Arts and Sciences Robert Greenberg (Hunter College); Dean, Mathematics and Natural Sciences Larry Liebovitch (Queens College) and several  mentors including Physics Department Chair Roman Kezerashvili (NYC College of Technology) and Dr. Phillip Stallworth (Physics Lab, Hunter College).

2010 Nobel Challenge Committees

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The committee members are listed below, and we thank them all for graciously giving their time to this effort.


Distinguished Professor Ruth Stark (City College)
Professor Alexander Greer (Brooklyn College)
Professor Qiao-Sheng Hu (College od Staten Island)

Physiology & Medicine

Distinguished Professor Nicholas Freudenberg (CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College)
Professor Christine Li (City College)
Professor Cathy Savage-Dunn (Queens College)
Professor Linda Spatz(City College, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education)
Professor Heidi Jones (CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College)


Distinguished Professor Myriam Sarachik (City College)
Distinguished Professor Eugene Chudnovsky (Lehman College)
Professor Ilona Kretzschmar (City College)
Professor Vinod Menon (Queens College)


Distinguished Professor Robert Schwartz (Baruch College)
Professor Howard Chernick (Hunter College)

Grand Prize External Committee

Dr. Brian Greene (Co-Founder, World Science Festival; Professor of Physics, Columbia University)
Dr. Stacie Bloom (Vice President & Scientific Director, New York Academy of Sciences)
Dr. Terry Krulwich, Sharon & Frederick A. Klingenstein-Nathan G. Kase, MD, Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Nobel Science Challenge Award Ceremony Photos