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Doctoral Student Animates Research for NSF Contest

Candy Hwang, a second-year doctoral candidate in chemistry and National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research fellow, has presented her research in an offbeat manner this fall.

Hwang entered “Creating the Future,” a multimedia competition that challenges NSF fellows to express how their research may shape the future. A 90-second video created by Hwang and her team offers an animated representation of research on nitrogen.

Calling upon others at USC, she worked with a team that included students from the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Thornton School of Music.

Despite the invaluable technical help of her team, Hwang faced the obstacle of how best to represent and explain her work.

“It was very difficult to explain my research in understandable terms,” she said. In fact, the team spent two months writing and editing the storyboards for the project.

However, the long process and hard work was worth the wait.

“I got to explain science, which is such a difficult thing to do,” Hwang said. “Teaching is my favorite thing. This video was an outlet for that.”

A panel of NSF judges will select the winner from the 14 finalists, but the public also has an opportunity to vote for a People’s Choice Award.

To cast a vote in the competition, visit

Laura Cechanowicz (editor), Simón Wilches Castro (designer/animator), Louis Morton (designer/animator) and Anna Drubich (music) provided expertise for the video. Professor Charles McKenna of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is Candy’s faculty adviser.