WASHINGTON – The Science Coalition (TSC) today announced the winners of its third-annual Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge. Graduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled at TSC member institutions were asked to create a video explaining their personal connection to fundamental research and why Congress should continue to invest in the partnership between federal research agencies and their university counterparts.

Molly McIlquham of Washington State University (WSU) and Laura Kapolka of the University of Michigan were awarded first place in the graduate and undergraduate categories, respectively. Penn State University’s Logan Coomes and his team took home the People’s Choice Award, which was decided by online votes from people around the country. The winning videos can be viewed here.

“I am pleased to congratulate Washington State University students Molly McIlquham and Melissa Pearcy for their first place and honorable mention video submissions in this year’s The Science Coalition’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge. Their outstanding videos showcase the research, scholarship, and creative activity that is essential to the WSU land-grant mission,” said Christopher Keane, vice president for research for WSU and vice chancellor for research at WSU Pullman. “With a statewide presence, WSU provides the next generation of researchers with hands-on, real-world experience essential to the innovation pipeline that translates fundamental research advances to achievements that benefit the lives of Americans every day. The video challenge showcases vital research from WSU students and universities across that nation that highlight the importance and critical need of federal investment in science. Congratulations to all of the winners and participants of this year’s challenge.”

“I am so pleased to see that our very own Laura Kapolka received first-place honors in the undergraduate category for this year’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge,” said Dr. Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research at the University of Michigan and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine. “Laura’s video encapsulates the many ways in which researchers across our three campuses have used their knowledge and expertise to find solutions to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The video also demonstrates the impact and importance of federally sponsored research, which often translates from our campuses to our communities in ways that positively benefit society.”

“This year’s field of entrants to the Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge was our most competitive ever, demonstrating the broad enthusiasm for continued federal investment in the research enterprise from the next generation of STEM talent,” said TSC President John Latini. “It is critical members of Congress hear directly from them about the need for robust, consistent funding to propel U.S. science forward, especially as Congress has yet to pass a final appropriations package for fiscal year 2022. Without predictable funding, the research these future scientists and innovators are building their careers on is at risk, and we cannot afford to lose that potential. I want to thank and congratulate all the students who entered for their compelling stories and proving why Congress must fund science forward.”

The full list of winners is as follows:


  • 1st Place – Molly McIlquham, Washington State University
  • 2nd Place – Maria Isabel da Silva, Penn State University
  • 3rd Place – Adam Knier, Marquette University


  • 1st Place – Laura Kapolka, University of Michigan
  • 2nd Place – Alonso Cruz, University of Oregon
  • 3rd Place – Logan Coomes and team, Penn State University

People’s Choice

  • Winner – Logan Coomes and team, Penn State University

Honorable Mentions

  • Annika Dechert, University of Oregon
  • Melissa Pearcy, Washington State University


About the Science Coalition

Established in 1994, The Science Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation, and drive America’s global competitiveness.