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Student Essay Competition

Deadline: 31 May, 2021

Extended deadline: 10 June, 2021

The ALIFE 2021 Organizing Committee cordially invites all students to attend the ALIFE 2021 Student Essay Competition. This competition is open to both undergraduate and PhD students. Students from any discipline are welcome. 

This ALIFE 2021 student essay competition has very simple rules. Students should write an essay 1,500 -2,500 words related to artificial life, artificial intelligence, robots and/or R.U.R. and submit it through the submission form until June10, 2021.

The essays will be awarded in 3 categories:

► The best essay written by an undergraduate student 

► The best essay written by a PhD student 

► The best essay related to the centenary of robots and R.U.R. and the conference theme "Robots: The century past and the century ahead"

Awards will be announced at a closing ceremony of ALIFE 2021 conference virtually (Friday July 23, 2021). We keep the prizes as a surprise for all awardees.

We offer a limited number of Student Conference Scholarships and each student attending this essay competition can be awarded by a conference free ticket.


Submission Process

Students should fill the submission form and upload their essays no later than on June 10, 2021.

All essays should be submitted in English using Times New Roman (size 12) font with double spacing. Essays must be a minimum of 1,500 words and a maximum of 2,500 words. Essays that do not follow the above-mentioned specifications will not be considered.

If you have any questions, please send us an email to and start the subject of your email by [ESSAY COMPETITION].



Olaf Witkowski


Olaf is a Director of Research and Co-Founder of Cross Labs, a research institute in Tokyo and Kyoto, which studies the fundamental principles of biological and artificial intelligence, supported by Cross Compass Ltd. He is also a Research Scientist of the Earth-Life Science Institute, at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, a Lecturer at the University of Tokyo, and a Regular Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is also a Founding Member of YHouse­ ­— a nonprofit transdisciplinary research institute in New York, focused on the study of awareness, artificial intelligence and complex systems. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Society for Artificial Life, was a program chair for the ALIFE 2018 conference ‘Beyond AI’, and is leading numerous research and outreach activities on AI and intelligence sciences.


Julie Novaková

Julie is an evolutionary biologist, educator and award-winning Czech author of science fiction and detective stories. She published seven novels, one anthology, one story collection and over thirty short pieces in Czech. Her work in English has appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog and elsewhere, and has been reprinted e.g. in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019. Some of her works have been translated into Chinese, Romanian, Estonian, Filipino, German and Portuguese, and she acts as a translator of Czech stories into English (in, Strange Horizons, F&SF). She edited an anthology of Czech speculative fiction in translation, titled Dreams From Beyond; a science outreach anthology of astrobiology-themed stories accompanied by fact commentaries, titled Strangest of All (edited for the European Astrobiology Institute); and co-edited an anthology of European SF in Filipino translation, Haka. Julie is a recipient of the European fandom’s Encouragement Award and multiple Czech national genre awards. She’s active in science outreach, education and nonfiction writing, and leads the outreach working group of the European Astrobiology Institute. She is a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology at the Charles University and likes to write popular science articles about fields ranging from behavioral science to planetary dynamics for Clarkesworld, Analog and other media. She’s a member of the XPRIZE Sci-fi Advisory Council.


Georg Musser

George is an award-winning science writer and editor based in New York. He was a senior editor at Scientific American magazine for 15 years and is now a contributing editor there, as well as a writer for Science, Quanta, Spectrum News, Nautilus, and other publications. He received the Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the American Astronomical Society in 2010, the Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics in 2011, and, with his colleagues, National Magazine Awards in 2002 and 2011. Musser is the author of two books on physics for the general public, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory (2008) and Spooky Action at a Distance (2015).


Jitka Cejkova

Jitka Čejková studied chemical engineering at University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, where she successfully defended her doctoral degree in 2010. She currently works as Associate Professor in the Chemical Robotics Laboratory at UCT Prague. She has postdoctoral experience from the University of Trento and the University of Tokyo. Her research focuses on how chemical engineers can contribute to artificial life research. Artificial life is the study of artificial systems that exhibit the behavioural characteristics of natural living systems. She focuses on the investigation of organic droplets with life-like behaviour and recently she proposed to call such droplets “liquid robots”. She is active in science communication both in the Czech Republic and abroad. She focuses primarily on popularization of research in the area of artificial life and the etymology of the word robot, which comes from Czech.


Julien Hubert

Julien Hubert is a senior researcher at Progress Technologies in Tokyo. He works on the project ShikAI whose aim is to restore the independence of visually impaired people through the development of technologies mixing AI with traditional engineering methods. Before joining Progress Technologies, Julien completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Takashi Ikegami at the University of Tokyo. His main research interests are the evolution of cognition in embodied agents, especially learning and time perception in neural models without synaptic plasticity.


Lisa Soros

Lisa Soros is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cross Labs in Kyoto, Japan. She was previously a Research Associate in the Game Innovation Lab at New York University, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Champlain College and was more previously a Ph.D. student in the Evolutionary Complexity Research Group at the University of Central Florida. Hprimary interests include open-ended evolution, virtual worlds, and generative systems writ broadly.


Manuel Baltieri

Manuel received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Sussex in 2019, under the supervision of Christopher Buckley. During his Ph.D. he was also a visiting student at ELSI Origins of Life Network, Tokyo, Japan. After graduating. he stayed at the University of Sussex to work with Warrick Roseboom and Anil Seth. At the end of 2019, he then moved to RIKEN CBS (Center for Brain Science) in Saitama, Japan, to work with Taro Toyoizumi as a Royal Society - JSPS Postdoctoral research fellow.


Silvia Holler

Silvia Holler is a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Trento, where she completed her bachelor and master after a 6 months apprentship at the ETH Zurich. She completed her PhD in biotechnology at the University of Trento too. Her primary interest include chemotactic droplets and protocells, droplet based synthetic biology, DNA labelled droplet aggregation and chemical gardens.


Richard Loffler

PhD-Student working on self-propelled systems Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences Department of Complex Systems and Chemical Processing of Information

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