A Look Back: The Alexia 2023 Winners

A man is pictured driving a tractor-trailer on a highway overpass.
Truck driver Jason Baker is shown behind the wheel of his extended sleeper cab while traveling through Dallas. (Photo by James Year)

A visual exploration of artificial intelligence’s impact on the $800 billion trucking industry, and a comprehensive photo essay that delves into the connection between martial arts in Bangladesh and the country’s cultures, history and lifestyles are the subjects of the top prizes of The Alexia 2023 grant competition.

Through grants, scholarships and special projects, The Alexia supports photographers, filmmakers and other visual creatives whose work promotes the power of visual storytelling to shed light on significant issues around the world.

James Year, a Newhouse graduate student, won the professional grant category for “Stealing Fire: The Collision of Trucking and Automation.” Md. Zobayer Hossain Joati, a student at Counter Foto, a visual arts school in Dhaka, Bangladesh, won the student grant category for “We Live to Fight.”

Winners will work on their projects over the next year. Judging took place March 31-April 1 at the Newhouse School. Now in its 32nd year, the competition received over 350 project proposals from more than 50 countries.


Professional Grant Recipient

James Year
“Stealing Fire: The Collision of Trucking and Automation”

Year is focusing on AI, the development of self-driving trucks and how automation might affect the trucking industry and workforce, as well as the environment. A Newhouse graduate student in the visual communications department, Year will receive $20,000 and a Sony A9II camera and lens.

“Having the support of the Alexia Foundation will be a godsend and make it possible to take this project past the finish line,” Year said. “Before the award, I had put everything I had into this work and was up against a wall financially. Now, I’ll be able to effectively cover the communities who are at highest risk of labor displacement and show how these expected trends relate to everyone, within the broader context of AI driven automation.”


Tomás Ayuso
“Palestinians of Latin America”

This project explores the interlinked stories of the Palestinian diaspora in Latin America, the assimilation of displaced people into asylum-giving countries and the bonds tethering families still in Palestinian territories.

Awards of excellence


Student Grant Recipient

Md. Zobayer Hossain Joati
Counter Foto — A Center for Visual Arts, Bangladesh
“We Live to Fight”

A boxer waits for his match to start in an empty gym.
A boxer waits alone for his match to start at a gym in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo by Md. Zobayer Hossain Joati)

The project explores the underlying cultures, history, politics, lifestyles, emotions and untold stories of martial arts communities in Bangladesh and in doing so, hopes to unveil national issues such as the gender violence used against women and girls, the lack of funding for sports and the struggle of low-income communities. Joati will receive tuition for three courses at the Newhouse School, a $1,000 grant and a Sony A9II camera and lens.

“Winning The Alexia is an important opportunity for photographers around the world to be recognized globally and get support for the continuation of their projects that matter,” Joati said. “Being a photography student, it will help much to grow my photography career in the global photography industry and community.”


Vincent Alban
Rochester Institute of Technology
“Absence and Presence”

Through this photo series, Alban hopes to show a comprehensive picture of what residents in Rochester, New York are doing to help reduce the record rate of gun violence in the city.

Awards of excellence

About The Alexia

The Alexia 2023 professional and student grants were judged by Nicole Werbeck, deputy director of visuals at NPR; Gail Fletcher, photo editor and producer at The Guardian; and David Gonzalez, a photographer, writer and editor at The New York Times. Judging was moderated by Whitney Latorre, vice president for visuals and immersive experiences at National Geographic. Submissions were judged based on the overall quality, feasibility and outcomes of the project proposal as well as imagery provided.

The Alexia is directed by its endowed chair, Bruce Strong, an associate professor of visual communications. The competition was founded by Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis in 1991 in honor of their daughter, Alexia Tsairis, a photography major at Newhouse who was one of 35 Syracuse University students lost in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. 

Since the competition’s inception, more than $1.7 million in grants has been award to over 170 student and professional photographers through the program’s annual competitions. For more information, visit newhouse.syr.edu/alexia or email Strong at TheAlexia@syr.edu.