A Virginia biochemist has won the 99th Miss America competition and insists she is a “woman of science” rather than a beauty queen.
On stage, dressed in a lab coat, Camille Schrier gave a colourful chemistry demonstration of the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.
Ms Schrier, originally from Pennsylvania, said she hopes to “break stereotypes about what it means to be a Miss America in 2020” by being a “woman of science” who is authentic to herself.
She said: “I’m not the beauty queen. I’m the brand ambassador for this organisation and I’m more than just someone with a crown on my head.”
The 51 women in the competition are now called “candidates,” rather than contestants and are from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
They were competing for a $50,000 scholarship and the “job” of Miss America, a one-year paid position they hope to use as a public platform for their “social impact initiative”.
For the second year, women were not judged in a swimsuit or how they look in an evening gown.
Instead they were put through a series of interviews and talent demonstrations to determine who is best qualified to wear this year’s crown.
Regina Hopper, president & CEO of the Miss America Organisation, said: “To make it relevant for these young women, it was important for us as a scholarship and service organisation to make sure that we were reflective of this generation, meaning that you no longer had to be defined by some sort of ideal.”
Ms Schrier, 24, who spoke on stage about having tackled an eating disorder, said she decided to compete for Miss America after the swimsuit competition was ditched, along with other changes that have been made to the competition.
She said: “I kind of figured that I would never get on that stage because I was a woman who did not want to get into a swimsuit on stage.
“And I didn’t have a performing talent, which is really ironic now.”
She added that she was the first Miss America to win with a science experiment, a presentation she brings to schools.
Ms Schrier is a graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor of science degrees in bio chemistry and systems biology.
She is currently studying to obtain a doctor of pharmacy degree.
Ms Schrier succeeds 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin, a classically trained opera singer from New York.