Anticipation Builds as Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge Reviews 2023 Finalists

Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Yuri Milner (author of Eureka Manifesto) launched the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015. Now in its ninth year, the global science competition recently selected 15 finalists to enter the final judging stage. These remarkable students have created engaging, original videos that simplify complicated scientific ideas. But who will become the 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge champion?

Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation

Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation organizes and funds the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The Breakthrough Foundation also supports Tech For Refugees, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and the Breakthrough Prize. Yuri Milner set up the Breakthrough Foundation to follow through on his Giving Pledge.

Determining The 2023 Breakthrough Junior Challenge Winner

Each year, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge awards a $250,000 scholarship, a $50,000 cash prize, and a cutting-edge science lab to the winner of the contest, their teacher, and their school, respectively.

As usual, to decide this year’s winner, a Selection Committee will review the finalists’ videos. Some of the Selection Committee judges include:

  • Terence Tao, a UCLA professor and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics laureate.
  • Salman Khan, the founder and CEO of the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is one of the partners of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
  • Esther Wojcicki, the founder of the Palo Alto High Media Arts Center.
  • John Grunsfeld, PhD, a NASA astronaut and administrator.

The Competition’s Worldwide Reach

Since its inception, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has received submissions from over 200 countries. Previous competition winners include:

  • Noor Haideri from the United States (2022).
  • Amber Kwok from Mauritius (2021).
  • Samay Godika from India (2018).
  • Hillary Diane Andales from the Philippines (2017).
  • Deanna See from Singapore (2016).
  • Antonella Masini from Peru (2016).

Their videos explored fascinating topics like dispersion forces, circadian rhythms, and antibiotic resistance.

This year’s finalists also hail from all over the world. The students come from countries like Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, and Canada.

Three finalists from the United States are Himanshu Jangid, Noelle Nelson, and Bayanni Rivera:

  • 16-year-old Himanshu’s video explains CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats). First developed as an antiviral system in some bacteria, CRISPR has become a pioneering gene editing technology that won its inventors a Nobel Prize.
  • 17-year-old Noelle’s video explores the topic of epigenetics. Scientists have shown that some environmental factors, like pollutants or metals, correspond to genomic changes. Epigenetics proves that nature and nurture both influence the expression of our genome.
  • 18-year-old Bayanni’s video dives into the expansion of the Universe. He explains the two methods scientists use to calculate the rate at which the Universe is expanding (also known as the Hubble constant). While no one currently knows the exact Hubble constant, solving this problem could be the next step in better understanding the nature of our Universe.

Seven Popular Vote Regional Champions

Every year, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge announces regional champions from the Popular Vote judging stage. During the Popular Vote, members of the public vote for their favorite semifinalists’ videos on the Breakthrough Prize YouTube and Facebook pages.

Europe, India, Asia, North America, Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East, and Australia and New Zealand each have a regional champion.

Brandon Kwok is the 2023 regional winner for Australia and New Zealand. His video makes the complex topic of quantum tunneling accessible thanks to his clear explanation and use of animation.

Discover this year’s finalists and regional champions’ videos.

About Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is an entrepreneur and philanthropist with a passion for science. The billionaire is the founder of the successful investment firm DST Global and a member of the Giving Pledge. As part of his Giving Pledge promise, he has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various philanthropic — mostly scientific — causes.

His Breakthrough Foundation is one of the charitable organizations that funds the Breakthrough Prize, the world’s largest scientific awards. The personal foundations of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin also support the Breakthrough Prize.

Yuri Milner founded the Breakthrough Initiatives in 2015. The Breakthrough Initiatives are research programs that investigate fundamental mysteries, such as the possibility of intelligent life beyond Earth.

Tech For Refugees is another of Yuri Milner’s non-profit initiatives. Launched in 2022, Tech For Refugees supports the refugee relief work of technology leaders like Uber and

Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilization is Yuri Milner’s short book about humanity and our place in the Universe.

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