2012 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge



For this year's challenge we received 107 essays — 56 from men and 51 from women.

Four CUNY Professors were invited to form and chair faculty committees, to review the essays submitted in each Nobel area. 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: Ms. Sun Young Chung, Sophomore at Hunter College
bio <pdf> essay <pdf>


  • Honorable Mention: Ms. Anna Groysman, Senior, Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College
    bio <pdf> essay <pdf>



Physiology or Medicine

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 2010 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 100 essays were submitted from undergraduates across the CUNY system.
<read more>

A CUNY Professor in each field (Ruth Stark, Chemistry; Benjamin Ortiz, Physiology & Medicine; V. P. Nair, Physics; and June O'Neil, Economics) was asked to form and head a committee of CUNY faculty to review the essays in their category.

These committees selected first, second and third place prize winners in each category, and these awards, including Apple iMac computers, Apple i-pads, and Kindle eBook readers, were presented at the ceremony. 

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 Elizabeth Miller, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
) to identify a Grand Prize winner.

As always, 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.

2012 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 (The City College)
Professor Sebastien Poget College of Staten Island)
Professor Lesley Davenport (Brooklyn College)

Physiology & Medicine

Professor Benjamin Ortiz (Hunter College)
Professor Cesar Arenas-Mena (College of Staten Island)
Professor Carmen Melendez-Vasquez (Hunter College)
Professor Stephen Redenti (Lehman College)
Professor Dan Weinstein (Queens College)
Professor Sara Salm (Borough of Manhattan Community College)


Distinguished Professor V. Parameswaran Nair (The City College)
Professor Daniel Greenberger (City College)
Professor Mark Hillery (Hunter College)
Professor Christopher Gerry (Lehman College)


Professor June O’Neil (Baruch College)
Professor Howard Chernick (Hunter College & CUNY Graduate Center)

Grand Prize External Committee

Dr. Stacie Bloom, Executive Director,
New York University Neuroscience Institute
Dr. Brian Greene, Co-Founder, World Science Festival;
Professor of Physics, Columbia University
Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Professor of Biological Sciences,
Columbia University

Nobel Science Challenge Award Ceremony Photos