On Friday, May 13, 2022, the Grand Challenges Initative (GCI) hosted their annual showcase on the Wilson Ampitheater. GCI Teams presented their projects to their peers, Schmid College community and special guests. Judges evaluated the projects and identified five exceptional teams for recognition:

2022 Arthur C. Flint Prize – CRISPR CRISIS

This year’s Arthur C. Flint Prize, awarded each spring to the most outstanding student team project in the Grand Challenges Initiative, was awarded to Julie Tran and Kayla Anderson for their board game CRISPR CRISIS.

The board game is the culmination of two years of research and development. Tran and Anderson wanted to address the lack of education around genetic engineering. By creating a board game, they are hoping to teach the next generation about cutting edge technology in the field of genetics. View their poster here >

Julie Tran, a biochemistry major and health science minor, notes that through the GCI she was able to not only expand on current topics she was interested in, but also learn completely new topics as well. “I was already interested in the topic of genetic engineering, but through GCI I was able to also learn about 3D printing, as well as electrical engineering,” said Tran.

Julie plans on doing organic chemistry research this summer and hopes to pursue dental school after graduation.

Kayla Anderson, a computer science major and game development minor, reflects on her time with GCI, “I learned that no idea is too big of an idea. We wanted to create an enjoyable experience while also being an effective learning tool. While mapping out our board game we quickly learned that it would require a multitude of skills and knowledge we hadn’t fully obtained yet. Through asking for guidance and willingness to learn we were able to relay our inspiration into our final product,” said Anderson.

This summer, Kayla plans on continuing research with faculty member Dr. Franceli Cibrian (Fowler School of Engineering) in the ULDEAS Lab, analyzing the accuracy of speech to text devices with individuals diagnosed with Down syndrome, and hopes to pursue software engineering after graduation.

Postdoctoral Fellow for the Grand Challenges Initiative, Mario Stipčić, Ph.D., shared that “CRISPR Crisis is a brilliantly crafted game that easily captivates anyone’s attention. The educating component on a generic engineering topic is achieved through the rules that are easy to understand and a familiar concept of pairing the nucleobases. Its appeal comes from uniquely designed components and the ability to tweeze the right amount of thrill and stress. Overall, I can easily imagine this game in a classroom or in the hoom, and I am still impressed with the fact that this was the work of only two second-year students.”

The judges also recognized the following outstanding projects during this year’s GCI Showcase:

Huntington’s Disease and Caenorhabditis elegans

GCI Team: Michael Babbitt, Isaac Chrisman, Annie Kelly, Gian Lagemann, Max Lee, Eric Ramirez
Read more about their project >

Designing and Laser Cutting Microfluidic Chips for Affordable Lipid Nanoparticle Synthesis

GCI Team: Sophie Hasson, Mo Hijazi, Sarelle Franco, Nathan Mermilliod, Ashley Alexander
Read more about their project >

Reinventing the Pillbox

GCI Team: Thomas Ogawa, Alan Lu, Dominic Carosso, Yuna Kim
Read more about their project > 

Marine Gut Impaction & Alternative Plastic

GCI Team: Noelle Clark, Sebastian Myhr, Ishan Sharma, Zoë von Allmen
Read more about their project >


2022 Golden 3-D Printed Crescent Wrench Award – Earth Friendly Products

The Grand Challenges Intiative also recognized Earth Friendly Products with the 2022 Golden 3-D Printed Crescent Wrench Award. Earth Friendly Products has been a longtime supporter of the GCI Program and are currently working with a GCI Team on a project. They have graciously given their time, resources and expertise to help our students.

Earth Friendly Products receiving award.

Congratulations to all the students and thank you to the faculty, staff, and community who joined us in recognizing our student teams.

You can view photos from the event here >