University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill today announced the recipients of the 2023 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes.
Awarded annually, the Prizes empower Penn students to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world. Each Prize-winning project will receive $100,000, as well as a $50,000 living stipend per team member. The Prizes are the largest of their kind in higher education. All Prize recipients collaborate with a Penn faculty mentor.
Two fourth-years and one December 2022 graduate were named recipients of the 2023 President’s Engagement Prize. They are Seungwon (Lucy) Lee for Communities for Childbirth, and Kenneth Pham and Catherine Chang for Act First. Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce have received the President’s Innovation Prize for their project, Sonura.
“This year’s President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize recipients are fueled by a desire to make a difference—in their community, across the country, and around the world,” Magill said. “Communities for Childbirth, Act First, and Sonura embody an inspiring blend of passion and purpose. They are addressing consequential challenges with compelling solutions, and their dedication and smarts are exemplary. I congratulate them and wish them success as they launch and grow their ventures.”
The 2023 Prize recipients—selected from an applicant pool of 76—will spend the next year implementing the projects:
- Seungwon (Lucy) Lee for Communities for Childbirth: Lee, a neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences from Seoul, is CEO and co-founder of Communities for Childbirth, an international organization that empowers maternal and child health in Jinja, Uganda. With the support of the President’s Engagement Prize, Lee will create a community-based referral system that provides efficient transportation to health facilities and patient-hospital communication during obstetric emergencies. Lee is mentored by Lisa D. Levine, the Michael T. Mennuti, M.D., Associate Professor in Reproductive Health in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.
- Kenneth Pham and Catherine Chang for Act First: Pham, a chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences from Philadelphia, and Chang, a December 2022 College graduate and biology major from Taiwan, will expand on an idea started through Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) to provide critical first-aid training to high school students in Philadelphia, including opioid reversal, CPR, and bleeding prevention. Pham is a former MERT administrative director and Chang is a former MERT general board member. They are mentored by Joshua Glick, an assistant professor of emergency medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine.
- Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce for Sonura: Daltoso, from Boise, Idaho; Ishiwari, from Chicago; Cano, from Lawrenceville, New Jersey; Magro, from Alexandria, Virginia; and Boyce, from Jamaica, Queens, New York, are bioengineering majors in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Their startup, Sonura, is developing a beanie that promotes the cognitive and socioemotional development of newborns in the NICU by protecting them from the auditory hazards of their environments while fostering parental connection. The Sonura Beanie is composed of a frequency-dependent filter and a mobile application. The Sonura team is mentored by Brian Halak, a lecturer in the Engineering Entrepreneurship program.
“We are very proud,” said Interim Provost Beth A. Winkelstein, “of the wide-ranging curiosity and passionate commitment to improving the world that characterize our great Penn students. These three exciting projects provide creative, innovative solutions that will shape the future of areas from cognitive development of newborns to childbirth in Africa to first-aid training here in Philadelphia. We are deeply grateful to the committees that worked tirelessly to review this year’s exceptional applicants, as well as to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships and the outstanding faculty advisors who worked closely with these students to develop their visionary ideas.”
The Prizes are supported by Trustee Emerita Judith Bollinger and William G. Bollinger, in honor of Ed Resovsky; Trustee Emerita Lee Spelman Doty and George E. Doty Jr.; Trustee Emeritus James S. Riepe and Gail Petty Riepe; Trustee David Ertel and Beth Seidenberg Ertel; Trustee Ramanan Raghavendran; Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation; and an anonymous donor.