Pratt Pair Wins YouTube Contest

Watch Laura Moore and Lisa Richard's video "Shedding Light on Breast Cancer," which highlights their research done as Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellows.

Two seniors in the Pratt School of Engineering have won the Duke University prize in a national YouTube video competition. Laura Moore (BME '08) and Lisa Richards (BME '08) produced a three-minute film about a research project that is using specially filtered light to improve breast cancer detection and measurement.

Both students have been working on the project in the lab of BME professor Nimmi Ramanujam, who appears in the film. Moore shot and edited the video and Richards created original background music. The video was produced for a contest sponsored by the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation. The Washington-based group invited people to submit three-minute videos illustrating how scientific discoveries resulting from federally funded research in the physical sciences have changed our lives. Examples of such innovations include the internet, radar and the MRI machine. "The contest is about the future of innovation and we wanted to show how the work we're doing is changing the treatment of breast cancer," Richards said. "We wanted to show what we're developing now," Moore added.

The considerable time spent producing the video was made worth it by the final product, they said. "It was nice to explain our research in a way that the general public can understand," Richards said. After watching the video, "our families now have a better understanding of what we work on."

Duke's Senior Vice President Public & Government Relations John Burness liked the contest idea so much he offered a pair of iPhones or $1,000 cash for the best Duke entry in the contest. Not wanting to change their phone plans, the winners opted for the cash.

Of the 17 entries received by the national competition, four were from Duke. The Task Force is going to post the top five videos in the national contest on their web site and the top winner gets $1,000 and two all-expenses paid trips to Washington D.C. They'll attend a Capitol Hill event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union and the boom of American investments in research and education that followed. The four runners-up will get $300 each. The Duke contest was judged by Melissa Vetterkind, assistant director for federal relations; James Todd, a writer and multimedia producer in the Office of News and Communications; and Steve Nowicki, dean of undergraduate studies.