Team of Wiregrass High School Students Win HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge

HUNTSVILLE (March 15, 2024) – More than 80 high schoolers, college students and professionals spent the weekend of March 1-3 participating in the seventh HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge (HATCH).

“We are so honored to host the HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge with a record-breaking crowd this year,” said Tyler Clark, HudsonAlpha Economic Development specialist and HATCH lead. “Our presentations were standing-room only! It’s amazing that we get to help students and professionals across Alabama learn how to or continue their journey in biotechnology, coding and bioinformatics.”

The HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge is a life sciences hackathon where participants compete to solve real-world issues faced by biotechnology researchers and innovators in genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics. Participants spent time coding throughout the weekend. HATCH was held in HudsonAlpha’s Paul Propst Center. Participants competed for the chance to win more than $5,000 in cash and prizes in two categories, High School and College/Professional.

Viridian, a team of Wiregrass students, won the high school division. Team members included Caleb North, a home-schooled student of Enterprise, Racheal Davis and Destin Martin of Houston Academy and Samantha Orange of Enterprise High School. Viridian built a platform to analyze multiple sets of DNA to identify genetic variations and recommend nutritional changes for individuals with dietary challenges.

NutriSpace won the College/Professional division. The team consisted of Mia Kotalik and Ethan Rush of Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., and Karl Kotalik. NutriSpace built a comprehensive web and mobile-accessible app designed to ensure the nutritional well-being of astronauts. It considers individual genetic variations to tailor dietary recommendations that mitigate the risk of health issues, especially when fresh produce is scarce and every gram of payload counts.

Mimic Sequence, a team of five students from Huntsville’s Randolph School, placed second in the High School competition for its work in the event. Team members included Davis Cook, Adi Gowda, Greyden Kutner, Noble Ligon and Anna Pickle.

NutriComp – a team made up of Jesiah Powell and Ray Hatsko of Eufaula High School and Wallace Community College, Tiffany Ewing of SAIC, Ethan Jones of UAH, and Phillip Ewing Jr., a graduate of Auburn University and MIT, placed second in the College/Professional division.

GeneHome Hub, a team of University of Alabama students Armandeep Singh, Sonam Lama, Uyen Truong and Andres Aguilar, placed third in the College/Professional division.

HudsonAlpha hosts the annual event to inspire creativity through collaboration and energize the current and next generation of problem-solvers to conceive and construct innovative solutions to biotech challenges. Many participants travel from around the country to participate in HATCH, and the event organizers actively encourage and support teams that wish to participate.