December 9, 2020

Wayne State Students sweep The Science Coalition’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge

Amanpreet Bhogal and Aneeesh Hehr work on their Science Coalition Fund it Forward Video Challenge project.

DETROIT - The Science Coalition (TSC), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, announced the winners of its second annual Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge. Two teams of Wayne State students participated in the challenge and received the top prize in their respective categories.

The Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge is a contest for undergraduate and graduate students at TSC member institutions. Participants were asked to create a video to tell the story of why science matters and remind members of Congress that now is the time to invest in research for the future of the nation. 

Amanpreet Bhogal, Aneesh Hehr and their team at Wayne State University were awarded first place in the graduate category. Shreya Desai of Wayne State University won first place in the undergraduate category. Additionally, Bhogal and Hehr received the People’s Choice Award, which was decided by online votes from people around the country. The winning videos can be viewed here

“I am happy to congratulate our Wayne State University teams on placing first in the undergraduate and graduate Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge organized by The Science Coalition,” said Stephen Lanier, Ph.D., vice president for research at Wayne State University. “Their impressive videos are a snippet of the amazing and important research that is happening here on our campus in the great city of Detroit. Their projects showcase the immense opportunities we provide our students to have hands-on learning through the research we do, much of which would not happen without important federal investment in science. I am proud of these two teams of Warriors who are playing a critical role in improving the lives of others now and in the future.” 

“The results of this year’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge demonstrate the strength of our country’s STEM talent pipeline and the bright future ahead for American research and innovation. This has been a uniquely challenging year for university students and the entire research enterprise, and all of our participants should be applauded for their persistence and dedication to the next generation of STEM discoveries,” said TSC President Lauren Brookmeyer. “As Congress moves forward on fiscal year 2021 appropriations and considers emergency research relief, it is important they hear directly from those conducting cutting-edge research every day about the critical need for robust and predictable investment in fundamental research. Congratulations to the winners and all who entered for making the case for federal funding for science.”  

Hehr, a resident of Windsor, Ontario, plans to focus on mental and behavioral health. Bhogal, a resident of Wixom, Michigan, plans to become a physician. The team was mentored by Hilary Marusak, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences and director of the THINK lab at Wayne State.

“With the guidance of our mentor, Dr. Marusak, we are learning how to form strong research questions that will inform the development of interventions,” said Hehr. “Through this research opportunity, we will continue to learn how we can improve patient wellbeing as future researchers and clinicians. Thank you to the Science Coalition for hosting this challenge. This was a unique opportunity where we could combine our experience in research, writing and video editing into one creative project.” 

“I’d like to thank the Science Coalition for this initiative that gave us the opportunity to become creative in explaining what our research is about, and most importantly, inform the lay audience about the importance of funding research,” said Bhogal. “I would like to give a special mention to my mentor, Dr. Marusak, for her constant support and guidance. She has taught me so much about the importance of research, and she constantly motivates me to work towards my goals.”

Desai, a resident of Lake Orion, Michigan, is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, with plans to pursue a medical degree as well as Ph.D. in behavioral neurosciences. She was also mentored by Marusak.

“Participating in a research opportunity has made me see science differently,” said Desai. “When I read textbooks or listen to lectures, I now see the content through a research lens. I am always excited to learn the why and the how behind science. I want to thank the Science Coalition for bringing the issue of federal funding into the limelight. Getting the chance to advocate for scientific research funding through my current research project was really cool, and I had a fun time doing it!”  

About Wayne State University: Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

About the Science Coalition: Established in 1994, The Science Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation, and drive America’s global competitiveness. 


Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845

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