Maize Award for Single-Term Projects
The MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Committee is pleased to present Elizabeth Yu with first place for her project, "Optimism/Pessimism and Future Orientation in Predicting Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Behavior in Primary Care Adults." Ms. Yu conducted extensive original research to investigate the potentially additive role that future orientation plays in predictions of depression and suicide risk. Her findings suggest that individuals with a pessimistic disposition are most affected by future orientation, demonstrating a greater risk of depressive symptoms and suicide behavior when their future orientation is low. On the other hand, her results indicate that pessimists with a high future orientation show a reduced risk of these behaviors, even beyond optimistic individuals with a similar orientation. Not only did Ms. Yu provide new insight into a body of research that addresses the value of cognitions in predictions of adjustment, but she also contributed to the relationship of future orientation to suicide risk and depressive behavior, which carries important implications for psychological intervention.
The committee was particularly impressed by the extent and quality of Ms. Yu’s research, including the breadth of literature in which she situated her questions, hypotheses, findings, and ultimately, suggestions for future directions of inquiry. Ms. Yu conducted a rigorous review of research within the field of Psychology, which ranged from advanced database searching in PsycINFO and ArticlesPlus, to Mirlyn searching and citation chasing. She also found herself engaged in the serendipitous discovery of materials when browsing the Hatcher Library stacks, which led her to unearth some of the foundational materials that informed her project. Furthermore, Ms. Yu extended her scope of analysis beyond MLibrary to take advantage of the larger universe of scholarship on her topic through the use of Interlibrary Loan.The committee thoroughly enjoyed learning about Ms. Yu’s original research, and reading her thoughtful analysis of the relationship of cognition to adjustment in primary care adults.
Frank Sedlar’s paper, “Engineering Industrial Architecture: Albert Kahn and the Trussed Concrete Steel Company” is a well written, beautifully organized paper on the contributions of Albert Kahn’s brother Julius, an engineer who created innovative building materials that were incorporated into Albert Kahn’s buildings and those of many other architects and builders in the early part of the last century. Mr. Sedlar used a variety of resources including patents, company product manuals, journal articles in engineering and architecture, books, archival materials from the Bentley Historical Library and the Albert Kahn Associates archives, blueprints, corporate histories, and interviews with experts in the field of structural engineering and architecture. He visited a building in Detroit, which has been partially demolished, to see the Kahn bar and other building components in situ. He used interlibrary loan, getting at least some resources from Australia to complete his work. Sedlar, an undergraduate engineering student, was the only undergraduate in this graduate level architecture course (ARCH 603). He wrote a paper that fulfilled the requirements for the course (using archival materials related to Albert Kahn and Associates), but also allowed him to use his specialized engineering expertise.
Andrew Tuck’s paper provides a history of osteopathic medicine as a struggle against standard medical practices. Tuck’s research begins with Andrew Taylor Still, who created osteopathic medicine as an alternative to standardized medical practices of the nineteenth century. Still focused his efforts on avoiding surgery and prescription of medications. In doing so, Still challenged institutionalized medicine. The challenge for acceptance of osteopathic medicine continued through World War II. In his paper Tuck uses Michel Foucault’s theories of the “examination” and “medical gaze” to layout how osteopathy challenged the dynamic of authority in medicine, arguing that through osteopathic practices the patient cannot be dehumanized. The committee was particularly impressed with Tuck’s use of digital archives, extensive research, and clear writing style, deftly weaving together critical theory and medical history.
Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects
Jennifer Xu’s exemplary thesis blends research from various fields (literary criticism, psychology, photography, neurobiology, history, and urban planning) to add to the emerging field of “surface reading.” Xu, who has double majored in English and Neurobiology, takes the work of W.G. Sebald into this new field by countering the usual trauma studies approach to his work. Drawing on scholarly articles from literary databases such as JSTOR, Project Muse, MLA International Bibliography and others, Xu offers insights into how illustrative Sebald’s work can be on the surface -- how meaningful the work is to the concept of just “being traumatized,” a state of being in which we may all experience in our everyday lives. Many literary critics approach Sebald’s work in the manner of how a psychoanalyst would approach a patient. Xu’s thesis challenges readers to look at the outer image of such things as the actual figures and paintings that Sebald incorporates into his work to draw conclusions regarding how we engage with the world “traumatically” every day.
While Xu used many of the library’s print materials concerning Sebald and the library’s electronic collections, she also took the unusual step of visiting the Clements Library, an independent University of Michigan library that houses original resources for the study of American history and culture. Sebald is a German author based in East Anglia who often writes about the Holocaust. Xu researched early blueprints of Western European structures in Clements to investigate siege architecture. She also enlisted the help of a Special Collections Librarian in her quest to exhaustively look at the surface of structures depicted in Sebald’s work. The Committee was impressed by Xu’s eloquent expression of how her extensive preliminary research, most of which she did not incorporate into her final thesis, led her to her final argument.
Laura Torp’s outstanding thesis charts the development of both scientific discourse and literary fiction through the lens of lunar travel narratives written between 1630 and 1835. These texts follow in the tradition of speculative cartography by imagining what it would be like to travel to the moon long before it was technologically possible. In Torp’s account, lunar travel narratives, and the ways they draw on “a rhetoric of verisimilitude,” are key to understanding both the emergence of scientific discourse and the ways in which fiction made claims to truth.
The committee was particularly impressed by the breadth of historical and literary research that Torp undertook in the process of writing her thesis. She uncovered over 40 lunar travel narratives, using extensive resources (including Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Early American Imprints, and HathiTrust), traced the development of scientific discourse through the Royal Society and other sources, and drew on a broad range of scholarly literature to produce an original and engaging thesis.
The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to award the third place Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects to Stephanie Berger for her honors thesis in the Department of Anthropology titled “Treating Bones: The Intersection of Archaeology and Conservation.” Stephanie’s thesis proposes a new best practice for removing mold from human skeletal remains in museums. She not only designed and conducted an experiment to test different ways of removing mold from human bones but also explored larger historical and ethical issues having to do with the preservation of these materials and the relationship between archaeologists and museum staff.
The committee was impressed by Stephanie’s use of MLibrary resources such as the Mirlyn Catalog, the ArticlesPlus search engine and our Interlibrary Loan service. She went beyond these resources and consulted a network of experts including conservators at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, MSU and the University of Indianapolis. Stephanie’s research will be used at the UM Museum of Anthropology as a guide for the care and treatment of human remains.