The New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology program included 21 awards for essays by high school and university students on the Big Questions.

The winners are:

Student Essay Competition

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”

First Prize – The top essay in each category will be awarded cash prizes of $25,000 (for high school) and $50,000 (for college).

Second Prizes – The next two essays in each category will be awarded cash prizes of $10,000 (for high school) and $25,000 (for college).

Third Prizes – The next five essays in each category will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000 (for high school) and $10,000 (for college).

In addition, up to 10 honorable mentions of $3,000 each will be awarded in either category.

I look forward to reading all the essays and meeting the winners!