John Templeton Foundation: 25 years - Supporting Science - Investing in the Big Questions

Student Essay Competition

Prizes for essay submissions focusing on these two Big Questions:

    For college students –

  1. What is the origin of the complexity in the universe?
  2. For high school students –

  3. Are we alone in the universe? Or, are there other life and intelligence beyond the solar system?

Student Essay Competition

Overview  |  Essay Winners  |  College  |  High School  |  FAQ

College Essay Winners

First Prize

Yong Wei Chong Gabrielle, Wellesley College, A Letter to My Dearest Newborn Baby Brother

Second Prizes

Karl Haislmaier, George Mason University, The Emergence of Complexity in the Universe as Viewed from a Holistic Perspective

Patrick Olden, University of St. Andrews, How can we know the complex?

Third Prizes

Annette Hein, Casper College, The Observer's Eye: Human Attitudes are the Other Side of Complexity

Tiffany Wu, Northwestern University, From Star-stuff to Cities: The Two Ingredients Needed for Increasing Complexity in the Universe

Honorable Mentions

Jacob Kelter, Northwestern University, Layers on Layers of Complexity

Brendan Lockhart, University of Maryland-College Park,
A World of Complexity

Yale Michaels, Harvard University, Searching for a Recipe for Cosmological Complexity

Taro Yamaguchi-Phillips, University of California, Berkeley, From Bang to Brain: How Complexity Arises in the Universe

John Zanazzi, Northern Arizona University, Defining Cosmological Complexity

High School Essay Winners

First Prize

Zequn Li, Charter School of Wilmington, Wilmington, Delaware, Speaking of Stars

Second Prizes

Nathan Morris, Claudia Taylor "Ladybird" Johnson High School, San Antonio, Texas, Does Non-Biological Life Exist in the Universe, and if so, what might the Signatures of such Life be?

Anna Thomas, Presentation High School, San Jose, California, The emergence and evolution of evolvability: insight from self-propagating peptides

Third Prizes

Akshat Mahajan, The Daly College, Indore – School, India, Can The Question of Extraterrestrial Life Ever Be Resolved?

Cassandra McCormack, Country Day School, San Jose, Costa Rica, Implications of Extraterrestrial Discovery

Elizabeth Mittmann, Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, California, Alternatives for Life Not as We Know It?

Drew Schaffer, Keystone School, San Antonio, Texas, The Limits of Comprehension: Musings on the Possibilities of Extraterrestrial Life

Edward Wollack, Atholton High School, Columbia, Maryland, Irrational Numbers, the Observable Universe, and Dice: A Discussion of Chance

Honorable Mentions

Amy Cohn, Park Tudor School, Indianapolis, Indiana, New Mythologies: Insights from Structural Anthropology to the Search for Life in the Universe

Kingshuk Dasadhikari, Marist Brothers International School, Kobe Hyogo, Japan, Where Life is Concerned, the Universe Needn’t Mimic Earth

Lia Tan, Laramie Senior High School, Laramie, Wyoming, Getting Ready for the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life

College Essay Topic »      High School Essay Topic »

Conference of  Award Winners October 12–13, 2012

Fifth Floor Conference Center
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


UChicago News

Scientists, students receive awards for exploring big questions about universe

By Steve Koppes
October 4, 2012

Check out the FAQ