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We have a record submission of over 700 essays this year. Essays were submitted from 45 states in the U.S., Canada, Colombia, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The judges enjoyed reading the essays and see what the younger generation thinks about genetics.


Congratulations to the 2011 winners and thank you all for participating.  Happy DNA Day!



Question 1:

In 2010, a major discovery in genetics research found that the DNA of some modern humans contains small amounts of Neanderthal DNA. Briefly explain this finding and discuss its relevance to human ancestry and evolution.



Josephine Benson


Grade 10



Hans Glandorff


Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green, OH


Press Release


Nathan Swetlitz


Grade 10



Nicholas DiGiovanni

Naperville Central High School, Naperville, IL


Press Release


Michael Zhang


Grade 10



Maria Zeitlin Trinkle


Smithtown High School East, St. James, NY


Press Release



Sai Gourisankar

R.L. Paschal High School, Forts Worth, TX
Teacher: Wendy Yanney

Abhinav Goyal

Schools for Science and Math at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN
Teacher: Angela Eeds

Aditi Kulkarni

St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, MN
Teacher: Tina Barsky

Jesse Menville

Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ
Teacher: Michael Liva

Hunter Peterson

Ames High School, Ames, IA
Teacher: Craig Walter


Meera Ramakrishnan

The Winsor School, Boston, MA
Teacher: Tone Rawlings


Marina Shayevich

Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington, NJ
Teacher: Linda Strauss

Pavel Vlasov

Winston Churchill High School, Potomac, MD
Teacher: Clinton Brown


Eric Yi

Thomas S. Wootton High School, Rockville, MD

Teacher: Rebecca Firoved




Question 2:

A number of companies offer genetic testing directly to consumers, bypassing the involvement of physicians and genetic counselors. Discuss whether you think this is a good idea or not. You might focus on medical, ethical, legal, or social dimensions of this issue.



Heba Bhat


Grade 9


Judith Jones


East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, NC


Press Release


Julia Kroll


Grade 11



Cindy Kellor

James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, WI


Press Release


Julianna Hsing


Grade 11



Anat Schwartz

Winston Churchill High School, Potomac, MD


Press Release



Maggie Feith

Dyersburg High School, Dyersburg, TN
Teacher: Deborah Gatlin

Helena Jankowski

Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, Battle Creek, MI
Teacher: Mary Lindow

Peter Luu

Poolesville High School, Poolesville, MD
Teacher: Patricia Miller

Nicole Park

Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Oklahoma City, OK
Teacher: Brent Richards

Mark Pesto

Bishop McCort Catholic High School, Johnstown, PA
Teacher: Jennifer Miller


Andy Rodgers

James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, WI
Teacher: Cindy Kellor


Ellen Schneider

DeForest High School, DeForest, WI
Teacher: Rebecca McDermid

Emily Shea

Smithtown High School East, St. James, NY
Teacher: Maria Trinkle


Allen Zhao

Hebron High School, Carrollton, TX

Teacher: Patricia Ehsani


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About the DNA Day Essay Contest


The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on the important concepts of genetics. Essays are expected to contain substantive, well-reasoned arguments indicative of a depth of understanding of the concepts related to the essay questions.


Essays are read and scored by at least two independent judges. A 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner are chosen for each question.


Questions/Comments: Contact



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