CUNY Nobel Science Challenge



2015 CUNY Nobel Science Challenge: The Science Behind the Prize


The Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Economics are being announced this week and so is the CUNY Nobel Science Challenge!


The Challenge

CUNY undergraduate students are invited to describe, in 1000 - 1500 words, the scientific concepts behind the work for which one of the 2015 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.


The Judging Process

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 may be awarded to the best essay submitted.

Each Judging committee will select the top 6 essays, and the 6 finalists in each category will be invited to  discuss their essays in person. The judges will then select the top three winning essays; the non-winning essays will receive honorable mentions.



The first prize winner in each category will receive an Apple iMac computer. Second prize winners will receive an Apple iPad, and an Amazon Kindle Fire will be awarded to each third place winner. If a Grand Prize winner is selected, s/he will receive $3,000.


Important notes:

  • Previous first prize winners are not eligible for this year’s competition.
  • Only current first-degree CUNY undergraduate students may submit.
  • 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.
  • Essays will be judged on accuracy and clarity.
  • Discuss the concepts that you will expand upon in your essay with a professor.
  • Essays over 1,500 words will be rejected. (Bibliographies, charts, etc. do not count toward word limit).



Thank you for submitting your essays! The selected candidates will be contacted soon. Please direct all inquiries to

Frequently Asked Questions >




2015 Nobel winners


Physiology or Medicine      

WINNERS: William C.  Campbell and Satoshi Omura (awarded jointly) - "For their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites."


Youyou Tu - "For her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria."  


WINNERS: Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald - "For the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass."  


WINNERS: Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar - "For mechanistic studies of DNA repair."

Economic Sciences

WINNER:  Angus Deaton - "For his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare."