2021 DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

Congratulations to our winners and thank you to all who participated. Happy DNA Day!

Thank you for making this another successful year! We received many submissions from students in 40 U.S. states, and 30 countries. We would also like to thank the ASHG members who participated in judging the essays.

Continue the celebration: ASHG has even more planned to celebrate DNA Day. See how else you can participate on the celebration page.

2021 Question

All humans are 99.9% genetically identical at the DNA level. Remarkably, just a small fraction (0.1%) of our DNA contributes to the different characteristics among populations around the world and that make every person unique. Important discoveries in human genetics and genomics often rely on comparing groups of people, for example people with a given disease compared to people without the disease. These studies utilize genomic data from individuals who have contributed their DNA for research purposes, most of which (approximately 80%) are individuals of European ancestry. How does this population representation impact genomic findings? Can the data and results of these studies still be useful for studies in other populations from around the world? Discuss whether inclusion of more diverse populations in genetic and genomic studies holds a potential to benefit future genetic research and improve human health.

First-place winner Lea Andrew (courtesy of Guildford High School)
First-place winner Lea Andrew (courtesy of Guildford High School)

2021 Winners

1st Place: Lea Andrew, Grade 12
Teacher: Mrs. Katherine Walker
School: Guildford High School
Location: Guildford, United Kingdom

2nd Place: Alyssa Wang, Grade 12
Teacher: Ms. Cindy Law
School: William Lyon Mackenzie C. I.
Location: Toronto, Canada

3rd Place: Kyla Cuesta, Grade 10
Teacher: Mrs. Lorraine MacDonald
School: St Robert CHS
Location: Thornhill, Canada

Honorable Mentions

Jadesola Akinbi
Governor’s School at Innovation Park
Manassas, Virginia
Teacher: Dr. Alexis Patanarut
Daniel Nazeri
South Windsor High School
South Windsor, Connecticut
Teacher: Ms. Janet Belval
Matthew Aldrich
HM Jackson High School
Mill Creek, Washington
Teacher: Mrs. Emily Borden
Alison Ryan
Harborfields High School
Greenlawn, New York
Teacher: Mr. Michael Pinto
Jonathan Chung
Smithtown High School East
St. James, New York
Teacher: Ms. Maria Zeitlin
Derek Ryan
Rye Neck High School
Mamaroneck, New York
Teacher: Ms. Susan Hannon
Jose Gabriel Cruz
Philippine Science High School – CALABARZON Region Campus
Batangas City, Philippines
Teacher: Ms. Avril Ley Ann Recto
Anjana Shriram
Canyon Crest Academy
San Diego, California
Teacher: Ms. Kellianne Abshier
Kevin Lei
PSI Program
Portland, Oregon
Teacher: Dr. Hayleigh Ast
Analiese Smith
Winston Churchill High School
Potomac, Maryland
Teacher: Ms. Mary Catherine Mcgehee
Kshemaahna Nagi
Home School
Kolkata, India
Maria Yampolsky
William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute
North York, Canada
Teacher: Dr. Elaine Sinclair

About the Contest

The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on important ideas and issues related to human genetics. Competitive essays are expected to convey substantive, well-reasoned, and evidence-based arguments that demonstrate deep understanding.

Essays are evaluated through three rounds of judging, and every essay is read by a minimum of three judges. Top-scoring essays have typically been scored by a dozen or more judges.

Check out the links below for excerpts from past winners’ essays!

 2020  2013
 2019  2012
 2018  2011
 2017  2010
 2016 2009
 2015  2008
 2014  2007

Questions/Comments: Contact dnaday@ashg.org

ASHG uses cookies to provide you with a secure and custom web experience. Privacy Policy