Events World Food Day Video Competition: MIT Research for a Food Secure Future 

J-WAFS is hosting a video competition and online festival for World Food Day to showcase MIT student research in agriculture and food systems. 

Submissions are due: Wednesday, September 30th, 2020, at noon EST Organizer: Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab

Video Competition Announcement text with colorful vegetables

October 16th, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of World Food Day, an international day launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations aimed at raising awareness about food and food systems challenges such as hunger and poverty. Over 150 countries observe World Food Day, with ministries, universities, research agencies, and organizations launching awareness-raising initiatives to grow the international conversation around world hunger and food security challenges. This year, the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT is joining this effort with a video competition and online festival to showcase the many exciting ways MIT students and post-docs are applying the Institute’s expertise and research capabilities to the world’s food and agriculture challenges.

As a coordinator of food and water systems research across MIT, J-WAFS has witnessed the numerous innovative ways that the MIT research community spanning very diverse DLCs are focusing on water and food systems challenges. J-WAFS is issuing this call for video submissions following the theme MIT Research for a Food Secure Future. We invite MIT students (undergraduates, graduates, and recent alumni) and current postdocs to submit short video portraits of their agriculture and/or food systems-related research projects and the challenges they are seeking to address. By launching this video competition and festival in the lead up to World Food Day, we aim to collect and showcase portraits of MIT research and innovation to build awareness about both the challenges facing the world’s food systems and how MIT’s community of young researchers is driving us toward solutions.

Food and Agriculture Research Video Competition

We invite all current MIT students, post-docs, and recent alumni to submit a 2 to 2.5-minute video describing their research related to agriculture and food systems, to compete for up to $3000 in prize money and the opportunity to be featured in J-WAFS’ social media and other outreach. J-WAFS will showcase up to ten top videos as the focal point of a World Food Day social media-based video festival, and in our communications materials for the remainder of the year. We will feature the grand-prize-winning video on the J-WAFS’s homepage. The grand prize winner will also receive $1500, with $1000 awarded to second place. Additional $200 awards will be made for specific “Judges’ Favorite” categories such as research originality, creative communication of research, and potential for impact. Any video submissions meeting the competition standards may be made available on the J-WAFS website.

This competition has been funded through the generous support of MIT alumnus Sanjay Manandhar '89, SM '91.

Important Links

Important Deadlines

  • Submission Deadline: Wednesday, September 30th , 2020, at noon EST
  • Online video festival, viewable via Twitter:  Friday, October 16th, 2020 (World Food Day) winners are announced to the public
  • Winners announced:  Friday, October 16th, 2020 (World Food Day)

Eligibility and Requirements

Entrants to the video contest must observe the following requirements:

Entrant Eligibility:

  • All MIT students currently enrolled in degree-granting programs are eligible. (This does not include certificate-only programs.)
  • All current MIT postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral fellows are eligible.
  • Recent MIT alumni with degrees dated 2020 are eligible.
  • Research teams may submit a video entry when 50% or more of the team is eligible and 50% or more of the research is being conducted at MIT. (See further requirements information below.)

Video Requirements

  • TOPIC:
    • Videos submitted must describe a research project that the applicant is pursuing at MIT that applies to agriculture and/or food systems. Broad research summaries as well as illustrations of a single concept or finding from your research are acceptable. Videos must also include information about the agriculture or food system challenge being addressed and may present the applicant’s passion or motivation for pursuing agriculture or food systems research.
    • The video must feature the submitter’s own research. Research that you are supporting but is largely led by and/or conducted by others is not appropriate.
    • Videos may feature concluded research or research in progress, however early-stage research should be sufficiently advanced beyond the proposal stage at the time the video is produced.
    • We want our audience to learn about some significant food and agriculture system challenges and how MIT is addressing them. The content should be understandable by a general audience and conveyed in a manner that is engaging and compelling.
    • The video should focus on research rather than related advocacy efforts, volunteer projects, entrepreneurial efforts or start up ideas, etc. Any activities such as these that are directly related to your research may be referred to but should not be the main focus of the video.
    • Videos should generally present the problem or challenge your research addresses, what the research approach is, and progress, results, or outcomes to date, and the potential for impact. As appropriate, videos may also present how the research project came about, your personal motivation, interaction with people or communities affected by the problem, or other content relevant to the research.
    • Videos can consist of any combination of the student talking, images and graphics, animations, interviews, or any other techniques that are appropriate to convey the story of your research project. Note that we are more interested in accessible content and compelling storytelling than highly produced videos.
    • There are various ways to produce your video that are low-tech and easy to implement. We welcome videos using production techniques that are anywhere from advanced to basic—e.g. accomplished using the record function on Zoom in combination with a PowerPoint, or made with your mobile phone. While creative storytelling is among the judging criteria, entries will not be judged specifically on video production capability or technique.
    • You can find basic video production instructional resources here.
    • While applicants can bring in others to assist with filming and other tasks, we do expect that the eligible submitters are the primary authors of the videos and that applicants do not use professionals for video production.
  • LENGTH: Only videos that are less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length will be considered. Videos should be at least 1 minute and 45 seconds to allow for adequate content.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: Videos must include English subtitles for closed captioning per MIT’s accessibility requirements. You can find the requirements and links for easy do-it-yourself captioning tools here.
  • SIZE/FORMAT: We recommend that videos use a 16x9 widescreen aspect ratio and be at least 1280x720 at 720p or higher resolution.
    • Ensure no copyrighted content is used without a license.
    • Any background music or stock images/videos must be royalty free so we can reproduce the videos on social media.
    • One video per individual or team may be submitted.
    • Make sure that the researcher and/or research team are introduced in the video, and include related departments and degree programs.
    • Add the following text as a closing caption that is clearly visible and fills the screen for 5 seconds. Please note: This does not count against the maximum 2.5 minutes allotted for your video.

MIT Research for a Food Secure Future Video Competition

Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

All Rights Reserved


    • Anyone that submits or appears on video needs to submit a Video Participant Consent Form. Anyone that is under the age of 18 who appears on video must obtain parental consent on the Video Participant Consent Form.
    • See the full terms and conditions for the video festival and competition.

Submission Process

To submit your entry:

  •  All video submission must meet the requirements listed above.
  • Submission steps: 
  1. Upload your video to YouTube. 
  2. Make privacy settings “public” or “unlisted” (not “private”). Make sure that you are wholly compliant and consistent with the YouTube Terms of Service.  Any entries that don’t comply will be disqualified. Please note: YouTube is NOT a sponsor of this contest. 
  3. Copy your video URL 
  4. Prepare your Participant Permission Form (if you have multiple forms, combine into a single PDF for uploading) 
  5. Go to to access the Video Submission Form 
  6. Complete all required fields including the YouTube URL and upload your Video Submission Form in order to submit your entry.

Dates and Deadlines

  • Request for Submissions issued: August 21st, 2020 
  • Submissions are due by Wednesday, September 30th, 2020, at noon EST 
  • Winners are informed on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 
  • Winning videos are posted in an online video festival, viewable via Twitter, on Friday, October 16th, 2020 (World Food Day) and winners are announced to the public

Judging and Selection

The videos submitted to this contest will be reviewed by a panel of judges both internal and external to MIT. The judging panel, to be announced in early September, will include food systems researchers, food and agriculture industry representatives, journalists and/or other members of communications fields that focus on food systems topics.

Entries will be judged on the following general criteria:

Importance & potential for impact: Video clearly articulates a significant problem or challenge related to agriculture or food systems; Video clearly explains motivation and how the research addresses the problem or challenge; research outcomes would help advance relevant knowledge or a solution.

Creative and effective communication: Overall presentation is interesting and engaging; problem, solution, and research approach are clearly and compellingly conveyed; level of detail and background are appropriate for a general audience; explanations are clear and understandable; visuals are relevant and helpful to understand the research.

For more information contact Lauren Pohlmann, communications and project assistant, at lpohlman [at]

***Before submitting, please read the full call for submissions