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The Daily Plant : Thursday, June 14, 2007

Celebrating Nobel Laureates And The Laureates Of Tomorrow

Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

On June 5, Ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Consul General of Sweden in New York, announced the winners of the “Laureates of Tomorrow: Nobel Essay Contest” at a ceremony held at the Nobel Monument at Theodore Roosevelt Park at Columbus Avenue and 81st Street. The competition, open to all juniors in City public, private, and parochial schools, required students to write essays examining the impact on science and society of major achievements by Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry or physiology / medicine. The contest is presented by a partnership between the Consulate General of Sweden, the New York Academy of Sciences,, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, and CUNY.

The winners, all New York City high school juniors, are Mingzhu Li of the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, for her essay, “Niels Bohr and His Model of the Atom,” Melanie Plaza of Bronx High School of Science, for her essay, “Linus Pauling: Changing Chemistry and the World,” and William Rifkin of Horace Mann School for his essay, “Andrew Fire and the Discovery of RNA Interference Silence is Golden.”

The grand prize awarded the three winners is an all-expenses paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden to attend the Nobel Week Festivities in December. The contest winners were also joined at the ceremony by the American Nobel Laureates of 2006, who witnessed the unveiling of their names newly inspirited on the Nobel Monument, located within the park.

The Nobel Monument was unveiled in 2003 in a joint project initiated and overseen by the Consulate General of Sweden and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation with the purpose of honoring all American Nobel Laureates, as well as the founder of the Nobel Prize, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The monument, now displaying the names of 296 Nobel Laureates, was designed by renowned Swedish sculptor Sivert Lindblom and financed through the generous support of Merck Company Foundation; Skanska; Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Ambassador and Mrs. Lyndon L. Olson Jr. and NCR Corporation.

“Not only is the Nobel Monument a symbol of the close ties between Sweden and this great city of New York, but it also serves as an inspiration for the students participating in this essay contest,” said Ambassador Hjertonsson. “In the Consulate General, we will not be at all surprised if we, in 30 or 40 years time, will see these students’ names inscribed onto this monument.”

Speaking about the monument and its place within Theodore Roosevelt Park, Commissioner Benepe noted, “Parks serve as agoras – as open, public spaces where people, and where great minds, can congregate, take inspiration from the beauty of nature, and share ideas. It is in these parks that people develop a relationship with nature and come to understand how humans fit into the larger environment.”

The ceremony also included remarks from 2006 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Dr. Craig C. Mello, and a performance by the Swedish Women’s Choir, SALT, who sang ”Den Blomstertid Nu Kommer,” a traditional Swedish children’s folk song.

Contest winner, Mingzhu Li, thrilled about the upcoming trip, said, “I have always dreamed of attending the Nobel Banquet. Winning this prize is a dream come true to me. I am excited that I'm actually going to meet the Nobel Laureates in person, and am looking forward to visiting the beautiful city of Stockholm.”


“You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.”

George M. Cohan
(1878 – 1942)

Directions to Theodore Roosevelt Park

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