And the Winners Are...

The results are in! Twelve of UCSF’s most talented writers and photographers took the top prizes in the Synapse Storytelling Contest.

Synapse readers can enjoy the winning entries throughout the 2018-2019 academic year. And if contest judges’ praises are any indication, they are sure to impress.

Erin Allday, Chronicle science writer, said she chose Iva Petrovchich’s “Public Cervix Announcement” as top place winner in the science writing category for its “fantastic lede,” and more.

“At the end of the piece I found myself wanting to read even more about this topic,” she wrote.

Second place science category winner, “Sleep” by Nicholas Gentry, takes “a great forward look into where this science is headed, which is often something that’s missing in science writing for laypeople,” Allday said.

And in third place for science writing, “Eye Contact Can Be Overwhelming” by Victoria Turner “was relatable but also something we don’t often think about – so the topic felt familiar but also fresh,” said Allday adding, “The end was great!”

In the creative writing category, Synapse editor in chief Ariane Panzer was most impressed with top prize winner Simone Kurial for her poem “America Ripening.”

“The rhythm and repetition of this poem were perfection and the imagery took a strong hold on me,” said Panzer.

Second place creative writing winner “Insectum,” a poem by Rebecca Jaszczak, had a “very original theme” and an imagery that “was gorgeous,” said Panzer.

And the third place winning short story “Birthday Dinner” by Kelly Crotty provided a “wonderful pace,” said Panzer.

“Strong descriptions helped draw me into the story, making me feel like I was in the kitchen with the main character as she prepared dinner,” Panzer said.

In the personal essay category, Synapse managing editor Sylvie Sturm chose the true life story “Survivors on The Margin” by Kacey Berry for the top prize.

“In revealing the inner world of a man’s lifelong series of unimaginable struggles, she also reveals herself,” Sturm said.

In second place was “Thoughts” by Theodore Peng.

“The strength in Peng’s piece comes through as much in his talent as a writer and as in his unflinching emotional vulnerability,” Sturm said.

Third place winning entry “The Tragicomedy of an MS1” by Mara Olsen is “a breath of fresh air,” said Sturm.

“With truly excellent writing skills, Olsen weaves an entrancing story out of a hectic day,” she said.

The winning photographers were just as adept at weaving stories through their imagery, according to judge Jennifer Rosko, UCSF director of student involvement and programs.

Top prize winner Frank Chang’s image “Newborn” shows us a chick during its first breaths of life.

Hardik Kothare’s second place winning image “Point Cabrillo” is an artistically rendered view of the historic park’s lighthouse appearing through fog.

And third place winner Ysbrand Nusse finds the perfect angle to capture the hustle and bustle of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge at night.

Other entries that judges wished to honor will also appear in the Synapse newsletter and online throughout the year.

Honorable mentions:

Creative Writing

“Recent Support for the Law of Unfair Magnetism and Adoration” by Victoria Turner

“The Green Dragon” by Hardik Kothare

“Lands” By Dyana Vega

“Playing by their Rules” by Shakkaura Kemet

Personal Essay

“Three Months In” by Christopher Cai

“Destination” by Jimmy Nguyen

Untitled by Kevin Suh


“Bay Bridge and Boat” by Emily Yao

“Yardsale” by Victoria Turner

“Golden Gate Bridge from Land’s End” by Ben Foorman

“Graduation Day” by Lisa Lim

Science Writing

“Report Imaging is the New MRI” by Frank Chang