Distinguished Trailblazers in the Sciences

High school and middle school students are invited to compete for a chance to be recognized and win a prize!

Michigan State University, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, under the Student Training and Engagement Program for Undergraduates in Physics, are hosting a Distinguished Trailblazers in the Sciences competition for pre-college students. The competition highlights scientists and engineers from minority and marginalized ethnic/racial groups who have excelled or contributed to the fields of nuclear science, accelerator science and accelerator engineering.

Use your talent to express history

Students will investigate a minority scientist in the fields of nuclear science, accelerator science and accelerator engineering. Students will share what they have learned by creating an original artistic design expression, personalized poems, musical performances (song/rap), videos, or a poster to highlight their selected Distinguished Trailblazer in the Sciences.

Participants: Get excited to discover Distinguished Trailblazers in the Sciences

Use your creativity to share what you learn!

Submission deadline: The submission deadline was Friday, 17 November 2023. FRIB, Michigan State University, and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility honored the winners at a virtual ceremony on 22 January 2024.

Entrants will create an original one (1) to three (3) minute video in which they present their submission. Submissions (video, oral presentation, reciting of a personalized poem, produce lyrics or poster) should examine how their Distinguished Trailblazer has impacted life, the nation, or the world today in the fields of nuclear science, accelerator science, and/or accelerator engineering.

Previous winners

Submission guidelines

Student entrants must submit a one (1) to three (3) minute presentation in one of two categories based on grade level:

  • Category one: Grades 5-8
  • Category two: Grades 9-12

Submissions must include:

1. Video recording submitted as an "unlisted" YouTube video (click here for uploading instructions). The video must include one of the following: oral presentation, reciting of personalized poem, artistic design expression, or produced musical (song/rap)

2. Application form

3. Consent form signed by parent/guardian if entrant is under 18 years old.

4. Signed media release form for every person appearing in the video

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Submitted entries must be contest entrants’ original works. Applicable copyright guidelines apply if other content is incorporated. If entries violate pre existing copyright(s), they will not be posted on FRIB/MSU channels. Copyright resources are available here:

1. Six Copyright Concepts Your K-12 Students Should Know | Copyright: Creativity at Work (loc.gov)

2. Engage Your Creativity

Note: Relatives of the organizers of the Distinguished Trailblazers program are not eligible to participate.


The top three winners from each category (grades 5-8 and grades 9-12) will receive prizes. No two prizes will be given for the same distinguished trailblazer.

  • High-school winners will be offered a place in the week-long Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) program (with full support) which will take place at MSU (organized by FRIB) in the summer of 2024. 

Click here for the contest flyer (PDF)