2023 Student Science Jeopardy! 16th Annual Tournament

By Brandon Tran, WHK student intern, Scientific Library; Deanna West, contributing writer, Scientific Library; and Alan Doss, contributing writer, Scientific Library
blue game board with light blue rectangle overlaid on it that says "student science jeopardy tournament"

The student Jeopardy! boards were created in Factile by library staff and featured six categories each; this one includes the categories “General Science,” “Periodic Table,” “Genetic Code,” “Bacteria,” “Math,” and “Science ‘ology’.” Image credit: Alan Doss

This year’s Scientific Library student Jeopardy! game again embraced a virtual format, like the 2021 and 2022 games, to accommodate interns competing from remote locations. The competition was an enjoyable match, involving 23 participants, including the seven contestants interning at NCI at Frederick from various high schools or colleges, and a fast final round with a high-totaling winner.    

The tournament, originally conceived by the Scientific Library as a team game to be played in the Building 549 amphitheater, resembles the iconic gameshow Jeopardy! and is designed to entertain and build team spirit among interns, all in a fun and professionally relevant context of science and NCI Frederick trivia. The tournament occurred via an online platform, optimized by library staff for the event, which allows the remote players to be visualized as avatars of their choice at podiums that tally their points as they are gained or lost.

Play was broadcast through Webex, with contestants unmuting themselves to answer questions. Before the games started, host Alan Doss, chemical sciences informationist at the Scientific Library, noted instructions for the contestants, while the interns shared insights about themselves. This year’s student intern competitors were a diverse group, with varied backgrounds, interests, and talents.   

Brandon Tran, WHK student intern from the Scientific Library, participated as a flag judge in this year’s game alongside Pam Noble, library assistant at the Scientific Library. The two returning judges, Dina Sigano, Ph.D., head of the Chemical Synthesis Group of the NCI Frederick’s Chemical Biology Laboratory, and Stephen Anderson, Ph.D., senior principal investigator of molecular immunotherapy at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research’s Basic Science Program, were available to make calls on any debatable answers to help keep the games running smoothly. Scientific Library staff provided any other support needed to make the tournament happen, such as creating and troubleshooting the categories and questions used on game day.   

Like the past two years’ games, the competition was divided into two preliminary rounds, followed by a final round where the tournament winners were determined.

In round one, interns Lizzie Goodwin and Olivia Bindewald requested to participate as a single contestant, OLizzie, as they were in the same laboratory. The judges and other contestants allowed this, so the game was played by three contestants, Olizzie, Susannah Armstrong, and Logan Kuhn, rather than the scheduled four, with Olizzie and Armstrong proceeding to the final game.

Round two featured contestants Arvind Nalluru, Abhi Senthilkumar, Hebsiba Kim, and Alison Murphy, who was the returning champion from the previous year, with Senthilkumar and Murphy moving into final Jeopardy!.

Final Jeopardy! was an intense 14-minute round. The contestants raced to answer questions first, with judges quickly determining their accuracy. In the end, Olizzie scored 800 points, securing 3rd place; Armstrong and Murphy tied for 2nd place at 3,000 points; and Senthilkumar prevailed as the winner, scoring an impressive 3,900 points. The final Jeopardy! question, from the biology category, that secured the win was, “Most ligands responsible for cell signaling bind to these on the surface of target cells”; the answer was, “What are receptors?”

After the tournament, the Recreation & Welfare Club of Frederick supplied all participants with shirts and other goodies for their efforts. The game was enjoyable for all participants and observers, with interns energetically demonstrating their knowledge across multiple fields.


Brandon Tran is a Werner H. Kirsten intern in the Scientific Library, where he works alongside his mentor to generate research guides, assisting researchers. Deanna West is the director of the NCI’s Scientific Library. Alan Doss, a librarian at the Scientific Library, helps patrons find the information they need. The Scientific Library assists in all phases of the research process by providing information services, resources, and training to all NCI at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research employees.