Class of 2019 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize Winners Announced at Penn
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann today announced the recipients of the 2019 President’s Engagement Prize and President’s Innovation Prize. 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.
Six Penn seniors were named recipients of the 2019 President’s Engagement Prize. They are Princess Aghayere, Summer Kollie, and Oladunni Alomaja, for Rebound Liberia; José Á. Maciel and Antonio E. Renteria, for Cultivando Juntos (Cultivating Together); and Brendan Taliaferro, for Host Homes for LGBTQ Youth in Philadelphia. Three seniors received the President’s Innovation Prize: Malika Shukurova and Katherine Sizov, for Strella Biotechnology, and Michael Wong, for InstaHub.
“Each of the Prize recipients has demonstrated a purpose-driven desire to get out and make a difference — in their community, across the country, and around the world,” said Gutmann. “From our backyard in Philadelphia to the basketball court in Liberia, Rebound Liberia, Cultivando Juntos, Host Homes for LGBTQ Youth in Philadelphia, Strella Biotechnology, and InstaHub represent a most remarkable range of Penn-educated talent, determination, and public-spirited enterprise.”
The Prizes are generously supported by Judith Bollinger and William G. Bollinger, in honor of Ed Resovsky; Trustee Lee Spelman Doty and George E. Doty, Jr.; and Emeritus Trustee James S. Riepe and Gail Petty Riepe.
Student recipients will spend the next year implementing their projects.
Two of those projects, Rebound Liberia and Strella Biotechnology, feature Engineering students and mentors. Details on their projects are as follows:
- Princess Aghayere, Summer Kollie, and Oladunni Alomaja, for Rebound Liberia: Aghayere, Kollie, and Alomaja will use basketball as a tool to bridge the literacy gap between men and women and as a mechanism for youth to cope with the trauma and stress of daily life in post-conflict Liberia. Rebound Liberia will build an indoor basketball court in conjunction with a community resource center, and its annual three-month summer program will combine basketball clinics with daily reading and writing sessions and personal development workshops. Aghayere, Kollie, and Alomaja are being mentored by Ocek Eke, director of global and local service-learning programs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
• Malika Shukurova and Katherine Sizov, for Strella Biotechnology: Strella is developing a bio-sensor that can predict the maturity of virtually any fresh fruit. Strella’s sensors are installed in controlled atmosphere storage rooms, monitoring apples as they ripen. This enables packers and distributors to identify the ripest apples and fruit for their customers, thus minimizing spoilage and food waste and promoting sustainability. Strella’s current market is U.S apple packers and distributors, which represent a $4 billion produce industry. The startup is looking to expand to other markets, such as bananas and pears, in the future. Malika and Katherine are being mentored by Jeffrey Babin, Practice Professor and Associate Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program.
For more information on the Prizes, winners and finalists, continue reading at Penn Today.