The University of Michigan Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 2010-2011 MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award. Although the award is only in its first year, the committee received thirty-four applications drawn from a full range of disciplines: humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Of the thirty-four, we selected those projects that best presented the fullest and most innovative use of the library resources. Choosing winners was not easy, and the author of each project we read has cause for pride. The applications as a whole testify to the abundance of diligence, intelligence, and originality that exists in the work being done by the University of Michigan's undergraduates, to the richness of the library's resources, and to the commitment of the University's professors and librarians to undergraduate learning. The winning projects of this year's award are extraordinary achievements in themselves, but they are also representative of the vibrant intellectual life of the University of Michigan.
Sita Marie Syal, Michael Franczak, Shirley Chen and Emily Schiller
Format: Honors Thesis
Format: Honors Thesis
Format: Honors Thesis
Summaries of the Winners’ Work:
Emily Schiller's Honor's Thesis for the Department of History, "'To Give Medicine Back to the People': Community Health Activism of the Black Panther Party" impressed the committee with its exemplary range of research, its application of that research to the creation of new knowledge, the fluidity with which the project was written, and the project's overall significance. The project not only gives an account of the hitherto little-studied topic of the Black Panthers' health clinics in Michigan, California, and Washington, but also demonstrates the unacknowledged importance of those clinics down to the present day and itself contributes to the archival record, through Schiller's decision to contribute her research and interview materials to the Labadie Collection. Schiller's research took in a full range of primary and secondary sources from across a variety of disciplines and made use of a wide range of libraries and library resources, including the Taubman and Hatcher libraries, the Labadie Collection, The Vanderbilt Television Archives, and the archives of Stanford University; additionally, Schiller worked closely with University of Michigan Librarians Julie Herrada, of Special Collections, and Government Documents librarian, Julia Proctor. Over and above this, Schiller conducted personal interviews with former Black Panthers and gained access to the privately held archives of the Black Panther Party. Her project itself was masterfully written, a pleasure to read, and did an excellent job of contextualizing its original research in terms of the already-existing scholarship on the Black Panthers and in terms of the history and cultural context in which the Panthers operated their health clinics. Finally, Schiller's statement of her research process did an excellent job of describing the intellectual journey she took over the course of her work; while giving a thorough account of the resources consulted and used, her statement also described the intellectual genesis of the project: the way that Schiller noted the gaps in an initial, smaller project (a literature review for the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine) that seemed to direct her across disciplinary boundaries to a larger historical phenomenon. "'To Give Medicine Back to the People': Community Health Activism of the Black Panther Party" is an exemplary research project, one that is not only comprehensive in its range of research but that truly brings something new and significant into being in the world of scholarship. The MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award committee is proud to give Emily Schiller first prize in acknowledgement of her extraordinary achievement.
The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee found Ms. Sita Marie Syal’s research project, “Energy from Waste: Characterization and Reuse Feasibility of Incinerated Municipal Solid Waste” to be a remarkable and unique contribution to emerging scholarship in the fields of Engineering and Environmental Science. We were impressed by her rigorous intellectual engagement with the literature review process, as well as her level of determination to obtain the technical skills required to perform original research on the properties of reusable material in waste-to-energy conversion. We were especially impressed by the breadth of research she conducted across multiple libraries at the University of Michigan, as well as her initiative to probe many of the library’s databases for literature germane to her project. Among the rich primary and secondary sources that informed her work, we appreciated that she included diverse types of scholarship, such as proceedings from conferences and symposia, journal articles, books, and theses. We were also impressed by her resourcefulness when she faced challenges to her research process, and in particular, how she took advantage of the myriad resources at her disposal to fill gaps in expertise. Additionally, she made excellent use of human resources, not only with her fellow students and faculty advisor, but also with the assistance of librarians at the Art, Architecture, and Engineering Library, the Ask a Librarian chat service, and Interlibrary Loan. Equally striking was her ambition and preparation for the presentation of her research at the Michigan State Capitol, which involved up-to-the minute literature searching for the latest developments in scholarship related to the waste-to-energy process.
One of the exciting moments in the research process is coming across the document that sparks the curiosity and takes a project in an innovative direction. Shirley Chen describes that moment in her essay that lead to her exploration of a connection between the Congress of American Women and the group Women Strike for Peace, and eventually to explore the period between the first and second feminist waves. One of our committee members with a minor in Women’s Studies indicated that in all the classes she took in college there was little mention of the time between the first wave and the second wave of feminism. We found the study of this time fascinating. Chen describes her process of contacting and talking with librarians and archivists here at the UM Libraries, as well as using materials from libraries, archives, and historical societies across the country, including an in-person trip to the Schlesinger Library in Boston. She used the Labadie Collection and ProQuest Historical Newspapers to find some of her primary sources, and mentions heavy use of Interlibrary Loan to access additional materials. Shirley Chen’s essay and her History honors thesis demonstrate extensive use of library resources as well as skill in incorporating those sources into a paper that presents a new way of looking at a historical time period.
The MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award committee had many reasons to grant an honorable mention to Georgia C. Ennis’s honors thesis for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, “The Social Functions and Implications of Voseo in Quito, Ecuador, A Linguistic and Anthropological Account”. This superior paper presents original research regarding the use of the personal second-person singular pronoun “vos” in Quito, Ecuador. During the process of conducting this research, Ennis made use of library services such as Inter Libraryloan, 7FAST and research consultations with library staff. She also made use of various library tools and subscription databases such as ArticlesPlus and JSTOR. Although initially Ennis discovered that there was not much scholarly work about her topic, she identified this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. These initial difficulty pushed her to develop more sophisticated search strategies and ultimately to design and conduct her own original research in Quito Ecuador. As a native Spanish-speaker from a region in Colombia where the use of the informal pronoun “vos” is also used, one of our committee members indicated it was fascinating to read your analysis of the myriad ways in which a single word can denote aspects of class, closeness, anger, transgression, all depending on the social contexts and actors involved. For all of these reasons the MLibrary Research Award Committee is proud to bestow an honorable mention to Georgia C. Ennis.
Leanna First-Arai’s well-written paper, “Urban Exacerbation: The Ineffectiveness of Drug Treatment and Law Enforcement in 1970s Detroit,” offers a nuanced analysis of the ways in which federally-funded efforts to combat drug-related crime in Detroit were misguided, ineffectual, and, at times, major contributors to the problem. The committee was particularly impressed by the comprehensive research process that she undertook in gathering materials and crafting her paper; not only did she respond thoughtfully and creatively to the necessary shifts in direction that her research took, but she also made sophisticated and extensive use of a wide range of library resources, including Mirlyn, electronic databases, historical newspapers on microfilm, and archival collections both on campus and beyond.
Michael Franczak’s excellent History honors thesis, “Multilateralism with an American Face: the U.S., Great Britain, and the Formation of the Postwar Economic Order, 1941-1947,” was well researched and very well written. The Award Committee was impressed by the array of primary documents from governments and NGOs, books, journal articles, newspaper articles and archival materials. We were delighted to see the use of materials not only from our library collection, but also the National Archives, presidential library websites, and government agency websites. Franczak’s paper and bibliography were both beautifully crafted and his graceful use of footnotes made the thesis a joy to read.