Winner Essay Contest


First Place: “America is The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.But…Are its Universities?” by Arianna Samet

Second Place: “Untitled” (PDF) by Anna Mitchell

Third Place: “Untitled” by Emily Snell

Third Place: “Student Censorship and Academic Growth: A Paradox in Higher Education” by Hadi Kateb

Third Place: “Free Speech: An Inextricable Part of Higher Education” by Mahishan Gnanaseharan


First Place: “**** **** ***** *****” by Kanitta Kulprathipanja

Second Place: “The Necessity of Debate” by Isabella Penola

Third Place: “Free Speech: The Cornerstone of Civic Empowerment” by Justin Hunsaker

Third Place: “Untitled” by James D.E. Ellwanger

Third Place: “College and University Censorship of Student Speech Undermines America’s Future” by Emily Cox


First Place:“The Audacity of Independent Thought” by Mark Gimelstein

Second Place:“What Can I Say?: Free Speech on College Campuses” by Nora Faris

Third Place:“Free Speech’s Importance on Campus” by Alexandra Crum

Third Place:“Censorship is Not Education” by Hannah Dent

Third Place:“Education as Conversation” by Asheshananda Rambachan

Drawing Winners: Clayton Hammonds, Jr; Minhi Kang; Hannah Rasmussen; and Brian Shouse.


First Place:“Civil Liberties in Academia” by Vincent Kelley

Second Place:“That We May Think What We Like—Or Not At All” by Rachel Anderson

Runner Up:“The Right to a Free Mind” by Matthew Abel

Runner Up:“Freedom of Speech: The Basis for Higher Education” by Katherine Gerton

Runner Up:“Free Speech is Integral to Higher Education” by Blaire Landon

Runner Up:“Freedom of Speech on College Campuses” by Michael Munther

Runner Up:“Keeping the Marketplace of Ideas Open in Schools” by Zachary Trama


First Place: “Freedoms and Education,” by Kristen Kelly Lemaster

Second Place: “Freedom of Expression in Higher Education,” by Mollyanne Gibson

Runner Up: “A Uniform Graduating Class,” by Abigail Averil

Runner Up: “Tolerating Intellectual Free Will,” by Zach Beims

Runner Up: “Oppression of Innovation,” by Miriam Leigh Creach

Runner Up: “Tyranny vs. Progress,” by Adam Spangler

Runner Up: “Wanted: Free Speech on American Campuses,” by Jackson Wilson


First Place: “Educational Institutions or Re-education Camps?” by Nathaniel Cornelius

Second Place (Tie): “In Clear and Present Danger: The State of Personal Liberty in America’s Universities,” by Andrew David King

Second Place (Tie): “Losing the Marketplace of Ideas,” by Eric Podolsky

Runner Up: “Higher Education-or Total Indoctrination?” by Rachel Helmstetter

Runner Up: “The Lighting of a Fire,” by Erin Kahn

Runner Up: “Say What We Say…Think What We Think,” by Rachel Ochoa

Runner Up: “The Freedom of All Freedoms,” by Morgan Turner

Runner Up: “On the Consequences of Oppressing Free Speech,” by Danielle Wogulis

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Lasker Essay Contest! This year we asked participants to use at least one specific example, to propose ways in which breakthroughs in biomedical research can be made part of the daily global dialogue, so that a much wider public becomes better informed and more supportive of biomedical research endeavors.

First and second-place winners have been invited to the 2017 Lasker Awards Luncheon on September 15.

The winners and honorable mentions receive monetary prizes to be used towards educational expenses. The first-place prize is $10,000. Second-place prizes are $4000 each. Honorable mentions receive $1,000.

The winning essays are published on our website in their original form, without editorial review.

First Place

Abigail Cline, Medical College of Georgia

Abigail Cline is an intern at the Medical College of Georgia. She grew up in Atlanta, earning her bachelor's degree in Latin at Wake Forest University, her PhD in biochemistry at the University of Georgia, and her MD at the Medical College of Georgia. Her research and clinical interests are in translational and academic medicine, bioethics, and dermatology.  She is currently seeking a dermatology residency following her preliminary year. She lives in Augusta, Georgia with husband, Hunter Appler. 
Essay: Science and cinema: from the benchtop to the big screen

Second Place

Tammy Tran, Johns Hopkins University

Tammy Tran is a PhD candidate in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Program at The Johns Hopkins University. Originally from Los Angeles, she earned her Bachelor of Science with honors in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on studying the neural mechanisms underlying memory function in young adults. As a graduate student, she was awarded the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. She uses functional neuroimaging to investigate changes in memory function in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. 
Essay: Science is everywhere: unexpected science encounters in the course of everyday life

Michael Wu, Harvard Medical School

Michael Wu is a medical student at Harvard Medical School in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. From Edina, Minnesota, Michael attended Harvard College. At Harvard, he worked in the lab of Shannon Turley studying the effects of tumor stroma on cancer immune surveillance, and graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Since beginning his studies at Harvard Medical School, he has been working in the lab of Sandro Santagata at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigating molecular mechanisms in cancer biology. Outside of school and the lab, Michael is an avid cellist.
Essay: Search for science: smart search-linked discussion forums

Honorable Mentions

Jennifer Bratburd, University of Wisconsin Madison

Jennifer Bratburd is a PhD candidate in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Microbiology with a focus on host-microbe interactions. She is currently studying how the human gut microbiota interacts with pathogens in the laboratory of Cameron Currie. Her interests include science outreach and science policy. 
Essay: Breaking through barriers to science with citizen science

Apurva Lunia, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, Jaipur, India

Apurva Lunia is a final year medical student at Mahatma Gandhi Medical College in Jaipur, India. She is interested in combining medicine, healthcare, social service, and literature. She is currently the National Public Health Officer for the Medical Students Association of India and Publications Assistant for the International Federation of Medical Students Association. Lunia is the recipient of Student Research Scholarship by Indian Council of Medical Research. Lunia holds a Visharad in Kathak (Classical Indian Dance) and her written work has been published in national and international student medical magazines and blogs. 
Essay: Dissemination of biomedical research via multimedia platforms using existing healthcare frameworks

Jessica Sagers, Harvard University

Jessica Sagers is a rising fourth-year PhD student in the Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology in the Division of Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. After completing premedical coursework and minors in Ancient Near Eastern History and Korean, she graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University with a BA and honors thesis in Linguistics. Jessica is currently performing her dissertation research at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in the laboratory of Konstantina Stankovic, where she works to identify and test novel drug therapies for vestibular schwannoma and neurofibromatosis type 2. 
Essay: Let's Get Real: (Re)making Scientists Into People

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