PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox, in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), have announced the two grand prize winners from "The Search for Hidden Figures" scholarship contest which was announced in November 2016, before the film premiered in theaters.
Inspired by Fox's "Hidden Figures", this program actively engaged the next generation of female leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and received more than 7,300 submissions from students across the country.
The 2 grand prize winners are:
-- Representing the contest's "20 and above" age "Professional" category is Joy Buolamwini (photo above) from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Buolamwini, also Rhodes scholar, aims to conduct STEM research to develop tools that can help identify and mitigate algorithmic bias that can often lead to discriminatory practices and behaviors in society.
-- And in the "13 to 19" age "High School" category is Yuna Shin from Bothell, Washington. Shin is focused on exploring new ways to develop solutions in health sciences, specifically using STEM skills to detect abnormal brain waves that could help prevent seizures for those facing epilepsy.
Watch both of their presentation videos below.
As the grand prize winners, Shin and Buolamwini will each receive $50,000 in scholarships, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida and access to STEM training materials and programs from NYAS. Additionally, ten runners-up were also selected to each receive $10,000 in scholarships, a hometown screening of the film "Hidden Figures" and access to STEM training materials and programs from NYAS.
From the contest's 50 semi-finalists, these two grand prize winners were selected by a panel of judges that included "Hidden Figures" Producer Pharrell Williams; "Hidden Figures" Producer Donna Gigliotti; Fox 2000 President Elizabeth Gabler; and President of the New York Academy of Sciences Ellis Rubinstein.
"Judging 'The Search for Hidden Figures' contest was a tremendous experience for me," said "Hidden Figures" producer Donna Gigliotti. "Each and every contestant's passion for STEM was exhibited with grace, humor, integrity, humanity and intelligence. They were awe inspiring. Hats off to PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox for encouraging and supporting our future STEM leaders. May they all persevere and flourish like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan."
"Scholarship programs like 'The Search for Hidden Figures' are important incentives that encourage young women to consider STEM-based careers," said Ellis Rubinstein, President of the New York Academy of Sciences. "The quality of submissions was phenomenal and demonstrated the extraordinary breadth of creativity and ingenuity that is unleashed when students are given opportunities to shine."
Below, watch the video submissions for the 2 grand prize winners: