The Science Coalition Announces Winners of 2023 Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The Science Coalition (TSC) announced the winners of its fifth-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.

Mohamed Chakkour and his team at Wayne State University and Sirena Pearl of Virginia Commonwealth University were awarded first place in the graduate and undergraduate categories, respectively. The People’s Choice Award, which is decided by an online public vote, went to Claire Radtke, a graduate student at Marquette University who also finished third in her category.

The winning videos can be viewed here.

“This year’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge attracted a record number of submissions – a clear indication that the next generation of innovative talent stands firmly behind federal investment in fundamental research and wants Congress to keep pace,” said TSC President Laura Kolton. “These videos should serve as motivation for lawmakers to fight for robust, predictable, and timely appropriations for U.S. research agencies, whose partnership with research institutions nationwide is a wellspring for the future STEM workforce. Each submission is proof positive that the U.S. is brimming with scientific potential; now, legislators must answer their call. Thank you and congratulations to all the students who entered for adding your voice to this important conversation.”

“I am happy to congratulate our Wayne State University teams on participating and placing well in the 2023 Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge organized by The Science Coalition,” said Timothy Stemmler, Ph.D., interim vice president for research at Wayne State University. “Their impressive videos give a snippet of the amazing and important research that is happening here on our campus in the great city of Detroit that impact our community and beyond. Their projects showcase the immense opportunities we provide our students to have hands-on learning through the research we do, much of which would not happen without important federal investment in science. I am proud of our Warrior teams who are playing a critical role in improving the lives of others now and in the future.”

“VCU is exceptionally proud of Sirena and her truly innovative cross-disciplinary work melding art and science,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “By helping diverse audiences understand complex issues that impact us all, her work speaks to VCU’s mission as a public research university dedicated to advancing the human condition and pursuing discoveries that make a difference in our communities. Sirena’s project and all those in the video challenge demonstrate the value of federal partnerships and investments that help universities foster career professionals who are ready to tackle current and future challenges impacting our lives.”

The full list of winners is as follows: 


  • 1st Place – Mohamed Chakkour and team, Wayne State University
  • 2nd Place – Vivian Li, Penn State University
  • 3rd Place – Claire Radtke, Marquette University


  • 1st Place – Sirena Pearl, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2nd Place – Jacob Klein, Wayne State University
  • 3rd Place – Jay Elias, Wayne State University

People’s Choice 

  • Winner – Claire Radtke, Marquette 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.