Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard|
Undergraduate STS Essay Prize Competition
2023 Undergraduate STS Essay Prize Competition is now open.
Since 2010, the Program on Science, Technology, and Society (STS) has held a competition for Harvard undergraduates doing independent, original research on social, cultural, historical, or policy issues at the intersection of science, technology and society. Submissions should consist of either an essay written for a course, or a chapter of a senior thesis (please note: full thesis submissions will not be considered). Thematically appropriate projects in non-textual media, such as films, documentaries, and design projects, are also considered.
The competition runs during the Spring Semester, and submissions are evaluated by STS Program Fellows in the STS Program. The winner receives a small cash award; several honorable mentions are also selected. The results are announced at a reception with the Fellows and all candidates.
For more information on the current and past winners of the Undergraduate STS Essay Prize, please see below. If you’re interested in reading their winning pieces, please contact the STS Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for Submission has been extended to April 15, 2023.
Annelisa Kingsbury- Lee (joint concentrator in Environmental Science & Public Policy and East Asian Studies) won the prize for her essay titled “Ultrasupercritical Coal as Viral Technology: The Chinese Case,” which contrasts two visions of nation-building in the dissemination and use of ultrasupercritical coal (USC) technologies in China. Annelisa was the first Junior to win the STS Undergraduate Prize.
Honorable mentions: Connor Chung‘s essay on “The Technological Character of Cost-Benefit Analysis,” Emma Forbes‘ essay on “Commodifying and depoliticizing robot dogs,” and Lauren Fadiman‘s essay on “5G Conspiracy Theories and Biopolitics in the Vernacular.”
Harvard College senior Wyatt Hurt (Environmental Science & Public Policy/Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations) won the 2021 Undergraduate STS Essay Prize for Global Eyes, Global Waters: Remote Sensing and the Politics of Transboundary Water Governance.
Connor McRobert (Environmental Sciences & Public Policy) won an Honorable Mention for Contested Imaginaries: A Co-Productionist Theory of Climate Change Litigation and the Emergence of a Novel Normative Experiment.
Honorable Mentions: The Necessity of an Unnecessary Procedure: Joseph B. DeLee’s Routine Episiotomy and the Rise of Obstetrics as a Medical Specialty by Judy Durkin (History of Science); From Disorderly Science to Risky Subjects: A Techno-Scientific History of Carceral Rehabilitation Since 1974 by Eva Rosenfeld (Art, Film, and Visual Studies/Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies).
Honorable Mentions: Environmentalists Against Science?: The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and the Recombinant DNA Threat by Leena Ambady (History and Science ’20); Deconstructing Medicalization: The Collision of Birthing Modalities in Black Maternal Health by Sandra Ojeaburu (Human Evolutionary Biology and Social Anthropology ’20).
Videos of Past Winners
We asked our current and past winners about the relationship between STS and their winning essays. Here are their responses:
Belen Mella (Social Studies ’19) was awarded the STS Undergraduate Prize for her thesis chapter, “Selling the Self: Genetic Ancestry Tests and the Commodification of Identity (Chapter III: Prosumers).”
Matt Hoisch (Environmental Science and Public Policy ’19) was awarded an honorable mention in the STS Undergraduate Essay Prize Competition for his thesis chapter, “Imagining Carbon Neutrality and Imagining Cities.”
Julia Fine (History & Literature ’19) was awarded an honorable mention in the STS Undergraduate Essay Prize Competition for her thesis chapter, “Growing British India: The Colonial Biopolitics of the Potato.”
Blake McGhghy (Social Studies, December ’17) won the 2018 STS Undergraduate Prize for his thesis chapter, “The ‘Refractory’ Nature of Local Community Life.”
Augusta Conway (History and Science ’18) was awarded an honorable mention in the STS Undergraduate Prize Competition for her paper, “Transcendent Encounters: John E. Mack, Aliens, and the Debate on Scientific.”
Bruno Moguel Gallegos
Bruno Moguel Gallegos (Visual and Enviornmental Studies ’18) was awarded an honorable mention in the STS Undergraduate Prize Competition for his thesis chapter, “Environmental Health Impact: Identity Development, Community Organization, and Effects of Synthetic Dyes in the Sikka Regency”
Jacob Meisel (Social Studies ’17) won the 2017 STS Undergraduate Prize for his thesis chapter, “From Daily Weather to Decadal Climate: Boundary Intensification Between American Meteorologists and Climate Scientists.”
Leib Celnik (History and Science & History of Art and Architecture ’18) won an honorable mention for his paper “Alan Burroughs’ Invisible Light: Early X-Radiography at the Fogg Museum.”
Sophia Lugo (History and Science ’17) won an honorable mention for her thesis chapter “Lobsterman: Kravitz, Kuffler, and the Role of the Lobster Model in Forming Twentieth Century American Neuroscience.”
Nicole Bassoff (History of Science ’16) won the 2016 STS Undergraduate Prize for her thesis chapter “Whose Name is it Anyway?: Medical Authority and the ‘Hansen’s Disease’ Movement.”
Leah Singer (Anthropology ’16) won 2nd place in the 2016 STS Undergraduate Essay Prize competition for her thesis chapter “Injury Law and the Calculation of Future Lost Income Capacity.”
Emma Woo (History of Science ’16) won 3rd place for her paper “Seeing Pregnancy: Prenatal Care and Women’s visibility in the Women’s Municipal League of Boston.”
Hilton Simmet (Social Studies ’15) won the 2015 STS Undergraduate Prize for his thesis chapter “Blueprints & Laboratories: An Exploration of Plural Modernities in Senegal’s Ecovillages.”
Bran Shim (Statistics ’15) won 2nd place in the 2015 STS Undergraduate Essay Prize competition for his paper “Land of the Rising iPS Cells: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Stem Cell Biology in Japan.”
Rachel Taylor (Social Anthropology ’15) won 3rd place in the 2015 STS Undergraduate Essay Prize competition for her thesis chapter “Damning the Drifters: Posthumanist Implications of Jellyfish Subjects in Science, Art, and Aquariums.”
Lily Ostrer (Social Studies ’14) won the 2014 STS Undergraduate Prize for her thesis chapter “Co-Producing the Science and Policy of Child Development.”
Sandra Korn (History of Science/Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies ’14) won an honorable mention for her thesis chapter “Doing what comes naturally: Women’s liberation and the radical science movement.”
Danny Wilson (History of Science ’14) won an honorable mention for his thesis chapter “This Incredible Organ’: Brain Mapping during the Decade of the Brain.”