Finalists Wait for Results of Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge

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The Breakthrough Junior Challenge has now announced its 2023 finalists and regional champions. This is the ninth year the global competition has taken place. Once again, students aged 13-18 have entered impressive videos that break down complex scientific ideas for their peers to understand.

Yuri Milner created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge as part of his Giving Pledge to support philanthropic, mostly scientific causes. He is also one of the minds behind the Breakthrough Prize, Breakthrough Initiatives, and Tech For Refugees. Others know him as the author of the short book Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilization.

This year’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge videos demonstrate a huge level of knowledge and dedication from teens worldwide. Entrants have explored topics like CRISPR gene editing, epigenetics, and cosmology.

Impressive 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge Finalists

4 of the 15 2023 finalists include:

  • Sophia Tran, aged 16, from the U.S. Tran’s video explains why eating our favorite foods makes us feel satisfied. The answer: neurotransmitters (and, in this case, the neurotransmitter dopamine). She describes the different types of neurotransmitters and the effects they can have.

  • Honjar Xing, aged 16, from Canada. Xing’s video explains what Eulerian circuits are, how they work, their role in graph theory, and their applications. These applications include DNA decoding and AI algorithms.
  • Adora Yin, aged 15, from Hong Kong. Yin’s video explains the scientific process of taking a photo. She talks viewers through the process of light entering a camera through an aperture and focusing through a lens arrangement onto an image sensor. She also explains how cameras recreate colors using color filter arrays and interpolation algorithms.
  • Isaac Zhang, aged 18, from the U.S. Zhang’s video explains why it’s difficult to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early. However, machine-learning technologies now allow scientists to analyze patterns in Alzheimer’s data. From here, scientists may be able to develop diagnosis algorithms that make it easier to diagnose the disease earlier.

Finalists aside, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has also announced seven regional champions. These young people are the entrants who received the most social media engagement on their videos during the Popular Vote round of the contest.

Rupali Mishra, aged 17, from Brazil, is one of the Popular Vote winners. She is the regional champion of Central / South America. In her video, Rupali explains how the menstruation cycle works using a bakery analogy.

Last Year’s Champion: Noor Haideri

The 2023 winner will follow Noor Haideri as the Breakthrough Junior Challenge champion. Haideri won last year with her video about blue light and the sleep cycle. Other finalists included:

  • Kyle Christian Cloma, from the Philippines, who discussed Gaussian Curvature in his video.
  • Abel Dagne, from the U.S., who unpacked the science behind noise cancellation.
  • Milo Shan, from South Africa, who covered GPS and time dilation.

Awaiting The Winner Announcement

Now, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge Selection Committee will whittle the list of 15 finalists down and choose the 2023 winner. Selection Committee members include CEO and Co-Founder of ResearchGate Ijad Madisch, Founder and CEO of Khan Academy Salman Khan, and Professor of Physics at Harvard University Andrew Strominger.

Other notable individuals on the Selection Committee include NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott, Founder of Palo Alto High Media Arts Center Esther Wojcicki, Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics Laureate and UCLA professor Terence Tao, and former Space and Science Correspondent at CNN Rachel Crane.

Explore the videos that the Selection Committee will choose the winner from.

About Yuri Milner

Since signing the Giving Pledge in 2012, Yuri Milner has played a key role in the creation of several philanthropic endeavors. Aside from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, these include:

  • The Breakthrough Prize. Awarding up to $3 million per laureate, the Breakthrough Prize spotlights the scientists and researchers who are leading change on a global scale.
  • The Breakthrough Initiatives. These initiatives — Listen, Watch, Discuss, Starshot, and Message — seek to answer some of the biggest questions about life beyond Earth in the Universe. Yuri Milner also explores these questions in his book Eureka Manifesto, which is available to read online for free.
  • Tech For Refugees. This non-profit provides funding and support that enable technology-focused organizations to share their offerings with refugees all over the world.

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