Hi, I’m Hillary.



  I get excited about science; and as a science communicator, I work to get others excited about it too!

Currently, I am a first-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in Physics and minoring in both Astronomy and Philosophy. I also do astrophysics research at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

I use this site both as a portfolio and a blog. Behind every post is me struggling to make sense of the universe and attempting to understand it better through writing.

The Challenge is an annual global competition for students ages 13 to 18. To enter, you must create a 3-minute video explaining a big scientific idea in Physics, Life Sciences, Mathematics, or specially for this year, COVID-19.

The winner takes home amazing prizes: a $250,000 scholarship, a $100,000 Breakthrough Science Lab, and a $50,000 prize for their teacher.

In 2016, I made the decision to join this competition. In 2017, I won—against all expectations. Little did I know how much that seemingly inconsequential decision would change my life. 

This year, the Challenge is back! Given how amazing this opportunity is, I strongly encourage you to join! Now, you're likely on this site because in this video, I promised to help you out with tips, resources, and stories. Here, I shall deliver.

I put a lot of time into this because I know how challenging it is to join the competition. I'll also be updating this page over the next few weeks whenever I have time. I hope you find them helpful!

The Forbidden Bookshelf

My science classes hid so much from me. Sixteen years ago, I learned that a million Earths could fit inside the sun. Amazed by this fact, I decided that I wanted to be an astronomer or astrophysicist. I loved how science was a systematic method of revealing the truth...

Searching for the Unknown

[This was a reflection paper I submitted for my class 24.01 Classics of Western Philosophy. I make references to terms in the class (e.g. Copy Principle, impressions, Doctrine of Recollection, etc.) that I didn't  explain here because my intended reader (course staff)...

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is back!

Hello, Challenger! It's Hillary, Winner of the 2017 Breakthrough Junior Challenge. How are you doing?  Although our days are now fraught with uncertainty, one thing is for sure: the Challenge returns for 2020! This year, however, it comes with a timely twist.  “Ooh,...

The Power of the People

Sitting in the middle of the frame, sullen-faced Joshua Molo periodically looks down at his phone as he speaks, almost robotically, to the camera. “I know what I did was wrong,” he said in Filipino, “I promise not to do it again.” This was Molo’s public apology video,...

Breakthrough Junior Challenge: How to Make the Winning Entry Pt. 2

If you’re here, you’re likely coming from my latest YouTube video (embedded above). As you might have understood from that video, I prepared scripts for two long videos on how you can make a winning Breakthrough Junior Challenge entry. However, I was only able to film...

Gravity Spy: You Can Help LIGO Discover Gravitational Waves

Last September 2015, LIGO had its first detection of gravitational waves from a pair of colliding black holes. As soon as the news broke, everyone was sharing the hype and elation of the LIGO scientists. Why was this discovery a big deal? It confirmed Einstein’s...

Behind the Scenes: Breakthrough Junior Challenge 2017

If you’re one of my Facebook friends or if we share at least 20 mutuals, you’ve probably seen one of my ardent (and shameless) calls to like and share my entry to the 2016 Breakthrough Junior Challenge. If you’re one of the amazing people who voted, then I would like...