2011 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge



In response to our challenge to CUNY undergraduate students we received 126 essays - 45 in physiology and medicine, 37 in Physics, 24 in Chemistry, and 20 in Economics.

A CUNY Professor in each field (Ruth Stark, Chemistry; Laurel Eckhart, Physiology & Medicine; V. Parameswaran Nair , Physics; and Howard Chernick, 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. Viacheslav Manichev (Junior, Hunter) Bio <pdf> Essay <pdf>




Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Science Challenge Award Ceremony was held Wednesday February 29th 2012, at CUNY's 80th Street Central Office, where the grand prize was awarded to senior Viacheslav Manichev a Junior 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. Manichev 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.

2011 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 Vinod Menon (Queens College)
Professor Stephen O’Brien (The City College)

Physiology & Medicine

Professor Laurel Eckhardt, Executive Officer, Biology Doctoral Program (Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center)
Professor Ivia Arsov (York College)
Professor Sanna Goyert (Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, The City College)
Professor Shuba Govind (The City College)
Professor Benjamin Ortiz (Hunter College)
Professor Jayne Raper (Hunter College)


Distinguished Professor V. Parameswaran Nair (The City College)
Professor Daniel Kabat (Lehman College)
Professor Peter Orland (Baruch College & CUNY Graduate Center)


Professor Howard Chernick (Hunter College)
Professor Sagiri Kitao (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