The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education offers a chance to earn scholarships to all undergraduate students. Students can earn funding toward their education through various STEM-based scholarship opportunities promoted by ORISE.
Mental Health Awareness: Undergraduate Challenge
Deadline: on or before 11:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, March 31, 2021
More than 700 undergraduate students participate in ORISE internships and research placements each year. Many of these participants are now doing their research from home due to the pandemic. The transition from normal social activities to working and learning from home has taken a toll on American society.
Prior to the pandemic, “crisis” was a common term used among researchers and experts when discussing the mental state of college students. According to 2018 and 2019 student surveys from the American College Health Association (ACHA), about 60% of respondents felt "overwhelming" anxiety, while 40% experienced depression so severe they had difficulty functioning. The additional stress of a pandemic and the move to virtual learning and working has only exasperated the problem. One way to better mental health is creating healthy habits.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is hosting a hands-on challenge for undergraduate students! The challenge is for students to research healthy habits for good mental health; commit to one healthy habit for 21 days; and develop either an infographic or podcast detailing the research and experience. The infographic or podcast should discuss your healthy habit and why other students should (or should not) use your method to better their own mental health. Your infographic or podcast could win you a $5,000 scholarship! The deadline for submitting your entry to this competition is Wednesday, March 31, 2021, and winners will be announced late-April.
- 1st place: $5,000 scholarship
- 2nd place: $3,000 scholarship
- 3rd place: $1,000 scholarship
Prior to COVID-19, college students were already experiencing a mental health crisis. In October 2020, a survey of college students found that 63% of students say that their emotional health is worse than before the COVID-19 pandemic and 56% of students are significantly concerned with their ability to care for their mental health. Furthermore, it was found that a high proportion of students are dealing with anxiety (82%), followed by social isolation/loneliness (68%), depression (63%), trouble concentrating (62%), and difficulty coping with stress in a healthy way (60%). One in five (19%) students have had suicidal thoughts in the past month.
Choose an activity that you can do for 21 days to better your mental health. Examples of activities are the following: journaling, exercising, sleeping eight hours, etc. Perform background research to learn more about this activity; how to best integrate it into your life; what types of problems it may help with; any other relevant information. Collect data on your personal experience and mental wellbeing over 21 days. Develop an infographic or podcast to communicate your research and results. Depending on your data, promote or discourage the activity to other students. If discouraged, provide a researched alternative activity and reasoning. The submission should include research on how the activity betters one’s mental health, as well as personal data collected during your habit creating process. You must provide supporting evidence, using a supporting document for citations and additional information.
- You must be an undergraduate student currently enrolled at a U.S. college or university who will also be enrolled at a U.S. college or university next year.
- A submission should include the following:
- Communication of the chosen activity; background info; and why others should use it in the form of a podcast recording or infographic; and
- Supporting document with additional information and citations.
- Entries must be submitted on the following form: https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/SpringUndergrad.aspx
- All entries will be scored on a rubric.
- Entries should convey accurate information appropriately to the general public.
- Learn more about ORISE internships and fellowships.
- Contact STEMEd@orau.org with any questions.
How to Enter:
- To enter the contest, complete the form at https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/SpringUndergrad.aspx and attach your infographic/podcast and supporting document files. The deadline to submit is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, March 31, 2020.
View past scholarship opportunities and winners
October 2020 Undergraduate Scholarship Competition
Water Purification: The Wave of the Future
Congratulations to the winners!
- 1st place: Ryan Warrick, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Drinking Water Purification (.pdf)
- 2nd place: Ashaya KC, University of North Texas, Water Purification: Hope Amidst the Global Water Crisis (.pdf)
- 3rd place: Joseph Kready, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Water Purification (.pdf)
Water purification is a leading technological advancement in first world countries that is out of reach in many developing countries. UNICEF and WHO report that one in three people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Although the United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, it is an ongoing challenge to protect it.
ORISE is hosting a research-based challenge for undergraduate students! The challenge is for students to develop an infographic to communicate the current leading ways to purify drinking water. Thorough submissions will include research on new developments in water purification, as well as research on providing these methods to developing countries. Your infographic could win you a $5,000 scholarship!
Diseases transmitted through contaminated water are rampant throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people have unsafe water globally. Unsafe water can carry diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, giardia, E. coli, hepatitis A, and many more. The United States has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, though it still has to be purified and protected in order to prevent rampant diseases.
Develop an infographic to communicate to the public the current leading ways to purify water. Thorough submissions will include recent scientific and technological research and developments in water purification, as well as research on providing these methods of water purification to developing countries. You must provide supporting evidence, using footnotes for citations on the infographic, and have a supporting document with additional information.
REAC/TS is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education facility with the mission to strengthen the medical response to radiological and nuclear incidents. REAC/TS has recently partnered with NASA to provide specialized knowledge for the medical community and emergency planners in the area around the upcoming Mars Rover Launch. ORISE is hosting a research-based challenge for undergraduate students to research a partner supporting NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 Launch, learn about the partner’s capabilities, and discuss why that partner is necessary for the mission.
- 1st place: Ailene Edwards, University of Virginia, NASA & the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site: A Valuable Partnership
- 2nd place: Juan Pablo Varela, University at Albany, SUNY; Sierra Nevada Corporation: Safely Landing the Perseverance
- 3rd place: Rebecca Bennett, University of California, Berkeley; Mitigating the Risk of Harm From Radiation Exposure
As many undergraduate students may recall, NASA’s Space Shuttle Program completed its mission in 2011. However, in recent years, NASA has launched an exciting, new program: Mars 2020. In this upcoming launch, NASA will be sending a rover to explore the Red Planet and search for signs of habitability and past microbial life. NASA has joined forces with many groups, including REAC/TS, an ORISE facility. Your challenge is to research a partner that is aiding NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission, learn about that partner’s capabilities, and discuss why that partner is necessary for the mission.
Autonomous and connected vehicles have the potential to improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation system. ORISE in partnership with the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is hosting a problem-based challenge for undergraduate students. The challenge for undergraduates is to develop a chart or infographic to communicate the levels of autonomous driving and sensor packages required to the public.
- 1st place: Tergel Molom-Ochir, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Autonomous Driving and Its Sensor Technology
- 2nd place: Jeleasa Grayned, Kennesaw State University, SAE International: Levels of Autonomous Driving & Sensor Packages
- 3rd place: Aufia Zhowandai, Virginia Commonwealth University, Autonomous Vehicles
The Problem: Autonomous and connected vehicles have the potential to improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation system. Vehicles that are able to automatically drive themselves in any condition or situation require a number of advanced sensors such as LIDAR, RADAR, and cameras, in addition to a fast communication network to communicate to each other and the traffic signal infrastructure in near real-time. The public is not yet generally familiar with the different levels of autonomy or the sensor packages and fidelity of the sensors needed for the different levels. In an effort to better inform the public about SAE levels of autonomous driving, what is the best way to put that information in a single chart?
The task: Develop a draft chart or infographic to communicate to the public the levels of autonomous driving and the sensor packages. You must provide supporting evidence using footnotes for citations on the chart/infographic and have a supporting document with additional information.
Technology plays a key role in many fields, but it is not without limitations. Although technology has helped to make great advancements in data collection, there are times that the instruments themselves interfere in the measurements. ORISE is hosting a problem-based challenge for undergraduate students. The challenge for undergraduates is to identify a situation in which an instrument interferes with its own measurements and data collection, and to propose a solution to the problem.
- 1st place: Le Nguyen, Michigan State University, Neural Networks as a Solution to Spontaneous Emission in the IceCube Neutrino Detector
- 2nd place: Sayem Sinha, Syracuse University, Surveying in Science: “Fixing” the 2016 Election Polls
- 3rd place: Marina Beshai, Princeton University, The US Census: The Effective Silence of Underrepresented Groups
Ed Dumas, an affiliate of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), explained a problem in using drones as an instrument to measure weather data: Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD) has been making wind measurements for years using gust probes attached to fixed-wing full-scale aircraft, and this technology is well-characterized. Probes have been tested in a wind tunnel and the uncertainty in both the wind measurements made from the gust probe and the velocity and angles (pitch, roll, and heading) of the platform itself that are combined to make the final wind measurement have been accurately characterized. Because NOAA has been able to characterize the uncertainty in each of the components that comprise the wind measurement, there is confidence in the ability of the overall system to accurately measure winds with respect to the Earth.
However, similar measurements are not as well characterized from a multi-rotor platform. The biggest challenge is the disruption of the local airflow that is made by the multiple propellers used to keep the vehicle aloft. Eddies from these propellers can destroy the existing eddies in the atmosphere and severely contaminate the wind measurement.
Drones measuring wind gusts are not the only example of an instrument interfering with its own measurements. Another example is attempting to measure absolute zero on the Kelvin scale using a thermometer. At absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius), atoms stop moving. Absolute zero cannot currently be measured because the particles of the thermometer are moving, which raises the temperature of the substance being measured by keeping the atoms in motion. While this temperature difference is an insignificant amount at temperatures that we experience daily, it is a major problem when measuring absolute zero. So while the thermometer readings can approach absolute zero, the current thermometer technology is not capable of accurately measuring it.
There has been a significant increase in usage of nuclear power plants in the past 60 years, which comes along with an increased need for attention on nuclear safety. ORISE hosted a problem-based challenge for undergraduate students. The challenge for undergraduates was to develop a plan to improve nuclear safety for the future. Congratulations to our scholarship winners!
- 1st place: Lukas Poteracke, San Diego State University, Nuclear Reactors: The Frontier of Energy Innovation
- 2nd place: Aryobimo Wibowoputro, San Diego State University, Threats of Nuclear Power and Plans for the Future
- 3rd place: Cole Maguire, University of Texas at Austin, The Future of Nuclear Power
Despite living in a world of constant radiation exposure, people have a negative association with the word “radiation.” In March, ORISE hosted a problem-based challenge for undergraduate students. The challenge for undergraduates was to develop a strategic communication approach for the general public on the everyday occurrences of radiation, the benefits, risks, and safety of all types and uses of radiation.
- 1st place: Julia Trainor, Syracuse University, #RadiationReimagined: Strategic Communications Report
- 2nd place: Cole Maguire, University of Texas at Austin, Radiation and Its Communication to the Public
- 3rd place: Ian Wietecha-Reiman, Penn State University, Radiation Exposure PSA Proposal: Using the Internet to Placate Fears