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Marco Travaglio, a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences, has been selected as the graduate winner of this year's AAAS Science & Human Rights Coalition: 2021 Student Essay Competition

Marco Travaglio, a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences, has been selected as the graduate winner of this year's AAAS Science & Human Rights Coalition: 2021 Student Essay Competition with his essay titled: "Solving the standstill: Right to science as a vehicle to global migration policies".

With over 120,000 members around the globe, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals.

Created by the AAAS, the Science and Human Rights Coalition Essay Competition was launched in 2014 to inspire students from every corner of the world to explore connections between human rights and science, engineering and the health professions. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students, who are invited to write an essay on any topic at the intersection of science, technology and human rights. In line with the AAAS's mission to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people", the competition seeks to bridge the scientific, engineering and human rights communities by engaging young and aspiring scientists and engineers in human rights. 

"It is a tremendous honour to receive this prize", said Marco. "I think we all have a role to play in making our world a better place, whether that is by researching life-threatening disease, climate change or human rights abuses. The essay that I wrote represents a small but hopefully insightful contribution that seeks to bring discussions around human rights concerns into the scientific paradigm".

Held annually by the Science and Human Rights Coalition in Washington, the Science and Human Rights Coalition Essay Competition has received over 300 submissions from a large number of countries since its launch in 2014. The winners and finalists were recognized at the October 2021 AAAS Science and Human Rights Virtual Conference.

"My essay brought to life two broad issues: (i) our society's failure to create global migration policies grounded in the principles of collaboration and justice and (ii) the need to reconise a human right to migrate for the benefit of scientific access and participation. Limited or no access to scientific advancements in developing countries means that millions of people cannot benefit from science and technology except by migrating. The central tenet of my essay is that the recognition of a human right to migrate would act as a catalyst for the protection of other fundamental human rights"

The award is generously sponsored by the AAAS - Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education, and Human Rights. The Fund supports the work of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and was created to honour the memory of Dr. Andrew M. Sessler. It was established in 2014 by a generous gift from Dr. Sessler’s children, recognizing both his remarkable career as a physicist and his leadership in bringing the voice of scientists to global concerns of human rights and intellectual freedom. Activities supported by the Fund include the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition’s Student Essay, Poster, and Digital Media Competitions; the FutureGen Scholars program

This year's essays highlighted the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues of health and human rights; the human right to science; the privacy questions raised by emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI); the human rights of migrants; the connections between scientific responsibility and public trust; and more. 

Winners of the competition will receive cash prize in addition to a year of membership in AAAS and a one-year subscription to Science.  The winning essays will also be considered for publication by the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program. 

Date awarded

30 September 2021

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AAAS Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference 2021 | Science and Human Rights Coalition