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CAPTRS Names Winners for International Writing Contest for Pathogen Threats

By October 11, 2023No Comments

In May, CAPTRS launched a pathogen threat creative writing contest. The contest is part of a continuing effort to create a Universe of Threats catalog, which will use innovation to create a wide-range of scenarios.  The catalog will be used to advance disaster threat preparedness using simulation gaming to practice and understand responses to threat scenarios. The contest received 350 submissions from around the world, detailing their innovative and unique hypothetical disease outbreak scenarios. Only 18% of the submissions came from writers in the United States. The submissions were fascinating, terrifying, and utterly creative! 

The judges for the contest, included CAPTRS team members, as well as Dr. Samuel Scarpino, Director of AI + Life Sciences at Northeastern University and Dr. Mark Escott, Chief Medical Officer for the City of Austin. The judges awarded the grand prize of $10,000 to Ricky Shaw, a student from Tennessee. Second place prizes of $5,000 were awarded to Andrew Wilson from the UK and Simon Thurtle from the Netherlands. A total of 15 awardees including writers from Africa, Indonesia, Canada and India received prize money and recognition.

“The COVID-19 pandemic killed millions of people across the globe and wreaked social and economic havoc worldwide,” said Phil Siegel, CAPTRS Co-founder.  “In an effort to proactively prepare for the next pandemic, CAPTRS announced the Universe of Threats – Pathogen Threat Contest, in the interest of empowering the innovation and imagination of everyday people.  It is CAPTRS belief that the failure of imagination plagued our response to COVID-19 and, as such, we are creating a catalog of threat scenarios that will be used to hone pandemic preparedness strategies for the future. 

“Mr. Shaw’s submission epitomized the best-of-the-best, with detailed scenarios of plausible pathogenic threats and their impact on society.  This contest focused on critical infrastructure, and Mr. Shaw’s insights will be an invaluable part of our catalog to help train future decision makers for the uncertain future, which can and will present threats unknown. Congratulations to Ricky Shaw for his impressive work.”

Winning entries can be read here! CAPTRS launched a second writing contest in August, focused on infrastructure threats. A third writing contest focused on natural disasters will launch by the end of the year in continuation of the CAPTRS Universe of Threats.