Announcing The 2015 DuPont Challenge National Science Essay Winners

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Students Discover Solutions for Food, Energy and Protection Challenges

The DuPont Challenge

The DuPont Challenge

Their ability to research, analyze and develop science-based solutions to address critical global challenges demonstrates how young people can begin preparing for very bright futures in tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

DuPont is pleased to announce the winners and honorable mentions of The 2015 DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. Nearly 9,000 middle and high school students from the United States, Canada and their territories submitted science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) essays. Six top winners were chosen for their combination of impressive science research, solid writing skills and creative solutions to some of today’s most pressing global challenges.

Students were asked to submit their essays in one of the four following categories: Together, we can feed the world; Together, we can build a secure energy future; Together, we can protect people and the environment; and Together, we can be innovative anywhere.

“We are very proud of the many thousands of students who participate in The DuPont Challenge,” said Vice President – DuPont Engineering, Facilities Services & Real Estate and Chief Engineer Karen Fletcher. “Their ability to research, analyze and develop science-based solutions to address critical global challenges demonstrates how young people can begin preparing for very bright futures in tomorrow’s STEM workforce.”

The senior division (grades 9-12) first place winner is Shreya Ramayya, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. Her sponsoring teacher is Peter Starodub. Her essay, “Microscopic Kaleidoscope,” gave her the opportunity to showcase her extensive research in the field of malaria. She plans to “make fighting infectious diseases and improving global accessibility to healthcare a personal concern for everyone,” she said.

The senior division second place winner is Rishi Sundaresan, a junior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C. His essay is entitled “Solar Wind for Energy? That Is Not Ex-orbit-ant” and his sponsoring teacher is Myra Halpin. The senior division third place winner is Katilyn Lewter, a senior at Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville, Tenn. Her essay is called “Farming Smarter” and her sponsoring teacher is Brad Parton.

The junior division (grades 6-8) first place winner is Ashton Cofer, a seventh grader at Gahanna Middle School East in Gahanna, Ohio. His sponsoring teacher is Dave Palguta and his essay is titled “Can a Potato Chip Revolutionize Architecture and Save Lives?” Cofer designed a unique earthquake-resistant house and hopes that his essay “could possibly inspire others to think outside the box and use science and technology to help others,” he said.

The junior division second place winner is Chris Elliott, an eighth grader at Camp Lester Middle School in Okinawa, Japan – a Department of Defense school. His essay is called “Reducing Heat-Related Illnesses” and his sponsoring teacher is Maryanne Tirinnanzi. The junior division third place winner is Zayd Mian, an eighth grader at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Mich. His essay is titled “Hydrogen Cars and Artificial Leaves: Our Clean Energy Future” and his sponsoring teacher is Brandon Groff.

This year’s competition was expanded to include entries from sixth grade students. The DuPont Challenge also introduced an Elementary Division science story competition for students and teachers in grades K-5, the winners of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

The DuPont Challenge offers more than $100,000 in total prizes and awards. In each division, the first place winner receives a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond, the second place winner receives a $3,000 U.S. Savings Bond, the third place winner receives a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond and the honorable mentions receive a $200 U.S. Savings Bond (all amounts at maturity). The top three winners in each division receive reference materials for their school from Britannica Digital Learning, as well as Britannica’s iOS science apps. These six winners also receive an expenses-paid awards trip to The Walt Disney World® Resort and Kennedy Space Center, accompanied by a parent and their sponsoring teacher. Additionally, each sponsoring science teacher of the first place winner in each division receives an expenses-paid trip to the 2016 NSTA National Conference. The top six winning teachers also receive classroom resources from Carolina Biological Supply.

The emphasis on recognizing teachers began when The DuPont Challenge was created in 1986, in honor of heroic men and women lost in the Challenger space shuttle disaster of that year. The crew included Ellison S. Onizuka, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair and Sharon Christa McAuliffe, who was the first teacher in space. The DuPont Challenge continues to draw inspiration from these individuals, as well as all who work to improve the world through scientific and technological discovery. The competition will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year.

The DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition is sponsored by DuPont in collaboration with A+ Media, Britannica Digital Learning, Carolina Curriculum, NASA, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Turnitin.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit

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