The 10th annual shorty awards were held at the Playstation Theatre in New York City last month with an array of young & old social media giants in attendance. Social Media has come a long way since the days of Myspace & Tumblr to which an in memoriam was held at the event. R.I.P indeed.

             The influence & influencers have evolved & become a vehicle of positive expression beyond the nihilism of likes, hashtags and followers. Being a woman in the STEM field, I was especially keen to see Science & Tech social media influencers in attendance & taking home awards for their use of social influence to spread knowledge & overall a positive impact on the community.

         The biggest award of the evening went to the creator, MKBHD known officially as Marques Brownlee whose tech tutorials have garnered him a loyal community of millennials. Over the years, You Tube has become a significant platform for online learning & tutorials, thus is the case with Crash Course channel that delivers informative content from physics, technology to mythology, literature & beyond. The channel won the best in Education with a stronghold of 7M subscribers in tow.

Social Media is a powerful tool for social good campaigns, as seen by the popularity of the ice bucket challenge. The “pure imagination” campaign inspired by Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory did just that by helping raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease reaching an audience of more than 2 million to bring attention this devastating disease & also taking home the best in social good at the shorties. Another campaign deserving of a mention is the national geographic campaign, helping raise awareness for world water month organized by Stella Aortis website, that sparked a global conversation through eye-opening data.

Educating our future generation is one of the pillars of social good and a necessity. It is important to especially create opportunities for low income communities to have access to learning resources. Thus, it was well deserving that the Aha! Home Science Experiment received the family & parenting section award for creating accessible tutorials necessary to excite children of all socioeconomic backgrounds about science. The primary audience was adult women, indicating the series were able to reach underrepresented communities in science. This is a great way to be inclusive & empower these communities about science. Kudos!

Also in attendance was my STEM sidekick, Miss USA 2017, a female scientist who used to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Aside from her beauty queen duties she also works on her campaign, Science Exploration for Kids helping to cultivate young minds to pursue STEM fields.

The host Keke Plamer did a wonderful job keeping the shorties, fun lively and on point. Along with a host of other presenters, shorties were a fun filled extravaganza where the social media community came together to acknowledge positive impact & influence & not merely the millennial obsession for hashtags and killer captions.


  • Poornima Peiris is an engineer interested in all things STEM related. She is the founder of an initiative encouraging women and minorities to pursue STEM related careers. She has conducted research in various stem disciplines at national labs and was a participant of NASA's space grant program. She is currently working on producing her own science podcast with her local community. Her scientific contributions include a publication in a scientific journal & besides reading up on scientific innovations, she also loves to read books on neuroscience, paint landscapes & create personalized wedding gifts. Aside from dabbling in the creative arts, she does fencing & tennis. Always a Sri Lankan at heart, she loves the ocean & spring weather. She currently splits her time between Massachusetts & New York.