Award Winners

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2016-2017 Winners

Sponsored by JABberwocky Literary Agency.

Maize Award for Single-Term Projects

First Place ($1,000):  Margaret Johnson - Layered Places: Artists’ Books by Kyoko Matsunaga

Format:  Online Exhibit

It is with great pleasure that the Undergraduate Research Award Committee recognizes the work of Margaret Johnson with this year’s first-place Maize Award. As part of the Michigan Library Scholars Internship, Johnson undertook the challenging task of creating an online exhibit of several books by the book artist, Kyoko Matsunaga, held in the Art, Architecture, & Engineering Library’s Special Collections. For her project, Layered Places: Artists’ Books by Kyoko Matsunaga, Johnson began by consulting with librarians and gathering information from a vast array of library resources. Going beyond traditional resources, she then reached out for assistance using appropriate technological tools, as well as addressing copyright issues. This path led her to an unexpected, but valuable interview with the artist herself.

Mirroring Matsunaga’s blending of tradition and innovation, Johnson’s project combines bibliographic and visual research and technology. Johnson researched the history of Japanese bookmaking, the history and art of artists’ books, as well as today’s technologies for capturing and presenting these three, and sometimes four, dimensional works online. Though familiar with historical research, she found herself confronted with the need to learn the language of visual research, interpretation and presentation.  Johnson acknowledged, “working with images involves more than reading and writing about a topic, it means interpreting and displaying with a purpose.” Through the research process, she discovered that using visual information as the subject of her work required a more deliberate, hands on approach to the material. For one book, Intersections, Johnson created animated GIF files to present the lapse of time as one progresses through the book. To understand Matsunaga’s use of the book’s structure in books such as Stepping Stones and Moonset Cordiero, Johnson treated them as sculptural objects around which one moves. Layered Places shows that the physicality and temporality of artists’ books can be brilliantly and successfully displayed and understood through a virtual medium. 


Michael Barton picSecond Place ($500): Michael Barton - Strengths of Character and Virtues: What We Know and What We Still Want to Learn

 Format: Research Paper

The U-M Library Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is pleased to award Second Prize in the   Maize Award category for Single-Term Projects to Michael Barton for his research paper in the Department of   Psychology entitled “Strengths of Character and Virtues: What We Know and What We Still Want to Learn.” Barton provides an engaging exploration of the topic of character strengths and virtues as a moral aspect of personality. According to Barton’s faculty mentor and collaborator, Professor Nansook Park, “this project is unique in that it is the first comprehensive review of this topic from a psychological perspective and it integrates both research and the practice of character and virtues.” Barton supplies a keen assessment of how character strengths and virtues are measured and studied in psychology, their important life consequences, and how they are developed and cultivated.

Park continues by stating that the topic of character strengths and virtues has been “discussed separately in many different fields such as psychology, education, philosophy, political science, ethics, and more recently neuroscience” and, as a result, has “produced a dizzying array of concepts and paradigms” presenting “many challenges in the search for relevant material.” The committee was impressed by Barton’s acquisition of more sophisticated research strategies as well as his use of the advanced critical skills necessary to evaluate information from diverse levels of scholarship. His utilization of a range of resources – from books, journal articles and websites to conference papers and unpublished manuscripts and data – to support his research and impressive ability to synthesize research from numerous disciplines allowed for the creation of a fascinating project.

Photo of Anne RosettThird Place ($250): Anne Rosett - Tectonic history of the Los Angeles Basin: Understanding what formed and deforms the city of Los Angeles

Format:  Research Paper

For the course EARTH 467 – Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis, Anne Rosett was tasked with developing a research proposal to investigate an aspect of a basin of her choosing. Rosett selected the Los Angeles Basin, as it was near where she grew up in southern California. As Rosett researched the L.A. Basin's tectonic history, she discovered that there were discrepancies in the literature regarding its formation and "was left wondering about how to best interpret the massive amount of research and data regarding this question; basically, what actually happened?" Rosett thus embarked on an in-depth literature review, to "conduct an extensive review to provide a concise understanding of what is known, what has been debunked, and what needs to be done." Rosett needed to learn not only what had been done in the past, but understand which research methods had been employed, and how to best employ paleomagnetic and seismic refraction and low- fold reflection data in a study of the L.A. Basin.

Rosett's research led to her using such library resources as GeoRef and Web of Science, along with USGS open-file reports, textbooks "to learn more about geologic processes" in general, and consultations with human researchers. She became aware of how the research she was proposing could lead to greater understanding of scientific questions such as the provenance of sediments with regard to the Colorado River, as well as practical considerations such as the potential effects of a seismic event on the densely populated greater Los Angeles region. The course's professor noted that "Anne excelled in all stages of this project and demonstrated a clear proficiency in research skills that are critical for advanced work in the earth sciences." The awards committee takes great pleasure in recognizing Anne Rosett’s research proposal with the third place award in the Single-Term Project category for 2017.

Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects

Photo of Joanna McKelveyFirst Place ($1,000): Joanna McKelvey - Sex Q & A: Sexual Health Content in Print and Online Advice Platforms in 2006 & 2016

Format:  Honors Thesis

The U-M Library Undergraduate Research Award Committee is pleased to award First Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-term Projects to Joanna McKelvey for “Sex Q & A: Sexual Health Content in Print and Online Advice Platforms in 2006 & 2016.” An honors thesis written for the Department of Communication Studies, McKelvey’s work deftly analyzes the sex advice columns to which millions of American youth turn in order to supplement their often meager formal education on sexual and reproductive health. By comparing historical moments and two kinds of media, McKelvey demonstrates that the platform on which the column was published - in a magazine or on a website - had a far greater impact on its content, rhetoric, and quality than the decade in which it was written. “Sex Q & A” persuasively argues that the definition of sexual health, how it is discussed, and the ways advice columnists construct their authority are dependent on whether a column appears in Cosmopolitan or on the Purple Pajamas website.

While scholars have paid a great deal of attention to the subject of formal sexual education in the United States, very little research has been undertaken on these informal but incredibly influential sources of sexual information. McKelvey’s work therefore simultaneously highlights a gap in the scholarly record and ably demonstrates the significant insights to be gained by conducting further research into this understudied topic. In her letter of support, Professor Katherine Sender underscored the excellence of McKelvey’s thesis and noted their plans to present and publish the work together in the near future. In writing about McKelvey’s graduate-level research skills, Professor Sender also noted that “the library’s extensive holdings and generous guidance from its staff were fundamental to the success of this project.” With the assistance of librarians Shevon Desai and Meredith Kahn, McKelvey was skillfully used a wide range of library resources and produced an essay that exemplifies the kind of superlative undergraduate research project this award was designed to identify and celebrate.

photo of Kiri AlvaradoSecond Place ($500):  Kiri Alvarado - Listening to Women's Voices: Women, Religion, and Healing in the Paston and Lisle Letters

Format:  Honors Thesis

The U-M Library Undergraduate Research Award Committee is pleased to award Second Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-term Projects to Kiri Alvarado for “Listening to Women's Voices: Women, Religion, and Healing in the Paston and Lisle Letters.” In her letter of support, Professor Katherine French wrote of how Alvarado’s “elegant and carefully crafted thesis” does a wonderful job proving that “promoting their families’ health care, childbirth and other medical concerns brought women together” in late medieval England. Since religion and health care were inextricably linked in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Alvarado’s thesis also analyzes the ways that women employed religious language and concepts to aide them in their roles as family caretakers. Through close textual scrutiny and historical contextualization, “Listening to Women’s Voices” offers fascinating insights into how performing the role of physical and spiritual healer empowered these women in their families and their communities.

In her letter, Professor French also wrote that this Women’s Studies honors thesis is “distinguished by its close work with primary sources and its deep knowledge of the various fields necessary to make sense of the sources.” The Award Committee saw this reflected in the work’s wide-ranging bibliography - evidence of many hours spent utilizing library resources - and in the fact that Alvarado had to learn to read Middle English before knowing what these medieval women were actually writing to one another. In its scope and the original contribution it makes to scholarship, Alvarado’s work is an impressive demonstration of what can be achieved by ambitious undergraduates who fully avail themselves of the library’s wealth of resources.

Photo of Asma BabanThird Place ($250): Asma Baban - God & Books: A Study of Iraqi Refugees in Greater Detroit and their Relationship with Religion and Education

Format:  Honors Thesis

The U-M Library Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to award Third Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-Term Projects to Asma Baban for the honors thesis in Sociology titled “God & Books: A Study of Iraqi Refugees in Greater Detroit and their Relationship with Religion and Education”.  With an acute awareness of the lack of agency afforded persons identified as refugees, the researcher had resisted leading interviewees through a series of prompts.  Rather, Baban listened openly to their stories -- a challenging approach for an early-career researcher.

Baban began this research expecting to write about refugees through history, in medicine, and public policy, but the interviewees voiced other themes. The first interview struck a deep chord: history, medicine and policy were layered on something more fundamental. There was something more essential to investigate.

"I was drawn to the stories they had to share about their childhoods, their journeys over to the U.S., their construction of self, and their internal conflicts with how their religious beliefs fit within the new culture. It was the same story. Almost always. It was a story about God and Books. And when it was not about God and Books, it was about how it ought to be about God and Books."

This was a highly personal project for Baban, grounded in her family's lived experiences as refugees in Dearborn, Michigan. The resulting thesis is a personal, theoretically grounded exploration of the fundamental ways religion and education contribute to the restructuring of refugee lives.

After several conversations with her instructor, Asma began to explore literature on refugees and displacement on her own, following leads in one resource that led to another.  Asma developed a strong working relationship with the subject librarian, and together they refined search strategies and mined interlibrary loan for more obscure resources. According to the instructor, "Asma very quickly shifted from all-purpose literature to those that best suited her material.... It was exactly what enthnographers do best: Baban let her interlocutors lead her toward the literature and theory that was most apt for her analysis."

The committee was particularly impressed with the maturity that Baban demonstrated in cultivating a rich ethnographic methodology without venturing into sentimentality. The committee agrees enthusiastically with the assessment of Baban’s advisor, “The project, based on in-depth interviews with four Iraqi refugees, is a creative blend of life experience, scholarly research, and analytical insight.” The committee was privileged to provide an early audience for such an accomplished undergraduate researcher.

Photo of Zachary ArringtonGlobal Award ($500): Zachary Arrington - On the Architectonics of Social Change: Control and Resistance in the Chilean Student Movement

Format:  Honors Thesis

The U-M Library Undergraduate Research Award Committee is pleased to award the Global Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-Term Projects to Zachary Arrington for “On the Architectonics of Social Change: Control and resistance in the Chilean student movement.” Arrington’s honors thesis examines protest tactics of student activists through exploring the historical process of neoliberal development within the education system in Chile and the subsequent systems of debt as the impetus for student activism.  Through examining the spatial practice as well as the aesthetic and political dimensions of student activists’ subversive actions, Arrington masterfully argues that spaces of resistance are projects of counter-space that interfere with neoliberal spatial hegemony. Student protesters engaging in a form of collective action produces new realities that work to communicate political disputes to the public while also creating a platform for collaborating the social reproduction of communal care.

The committee was impressed with Arrington’s ability to skillfully incorporate the history of Chilean neoliberalism and social theory with ethnographic observations and interviews of current student protesters. Arrington demonstrated a remarkable ability to utilize a wide range of research strategies and library resources to successfully integrate theory with experience to inject a new voice in the scholarly conversation.  Prof. Erik Mueggler letter of support perfectly sums up the committee’s thoughts on Arrington’s project by stating “I find the voice Zak has developed in his thesis nothing less than amazing, for a scholar of his age.” The committee was honored to review and recognize the work of a highly motivated, highly skilled researcher with a clear passion for the plight of Chilean students.


2015-2016 Winners

Sponsored by: Jack and Lenora Habel Fund, Roger and Esther Heyns Fund, M. Newton Zucker Fund, and MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Fund.

Maize Award for Single-Term Projects

Daphne JongFirst Place ($1,000):  Daphne Jong - The Role of the Prostitute in England c. 1660-1810: Female Capitalist or Sinful Victim?

Format:  Research Paper

Are prostitutes sinful victims or female capitalists? It was a hotly debated question in eighteenth-century English society, and one which Daphne Jong recognized as central to many novels of the period. In her study of the representation and rhetoric of prostitution in Defoe’s Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (1724) and Cleland’s Fanny Hill (1748), Daphne demonstrates how these novels use their title characters to interrogate the shifting societal views on this question. By marshalling nonfiction texts from the era like The Whore’s Rhetorick (1683) and The Evils of Adultery and Prostitution (1792), and by using tools of digital scholarship to perform word frequency analysis, Daphne shows how these two novels engaged with an ongoing cultural conversation as to whether prostitutes ought to be considered entrepreneurs providing for their families or fallen women in need of reform. To further solidify and extend her analysis, she also relies on secondary sources to contextualize the entire issue within the emergent capitalist consumerism of the era. Daphne is thus able to detail how the relationship between morality and economics shifted over the course of the century, and the ways in which Defoe and Cleland responded to those changes through the figure of the prostitute and the metaphors and synonyms associated with it.

Written during the Winter term for Professor Pinch’s English 451: The Marriage Plot, the persuasiveness and complexity of Daphne’s argument is a testament to her extensive and skillful use of library resources over the course of the semester. With the help and instruction of several librarians, Daphne was able to undertake modes of digital scholarship that constitute the cutting edge of literary studies. She used Google’s Ngram Viewer to count the frequency of the word ‘prostitute’ and its synonyms over the course of the century and then create a graph that visualized the data, demonstrating the concept’s cultural currency and shifts in significance. Utilizing CartoDB, Daphne was able to map Roxana’s travels in London and continental Europe. She also used the R programming language to conduct sentiment analysis for each novel. She then created data visualizations plotting the rise and fall of different emotions exhibited by Roxana and Fanny over the course the respective novels, thereby providing statistical evidence in support of her argument regarding the way each author used the figure of the prostitute to achieve very different narrative ends. Daphne combined this digital scholarship with traditional research in databases like JSTOR and Eighteenth Century Collections, as well as a good deal of time spent searching primary texts in HathiTrust. The result is an essay that exemplifies the academic excellence and personal growth that undergraduates can achieve by taking full advantage of the library’s wealth of resources and staff. It is therefore our great pleasure to announce that Daphne’s superb essay has won the first-place Maize Award for Single-Term Projects.

Jerin LeeSecond Place ($500):  Jerin Lee - Examining Sexual Assault Victimization and Loneliness as Risk Factors Associated with Non- Lethal Self-Harm Behaviors in Female College Students: Is It Important to Control for Concomitant Suicidal Behaviors?

Format:  Research Paper

During the Fall 2015 semester, Jerin Lee was selected from a group of highly gifted and motivated students to participate in an independent study with Professor Edward Chang. She studied “the potential impact of sexual assault victimization and loneliness in predicting self-harm behaviors in female college students,” according to her mentor, Dr. Chang. Jerin developed this study, did the analysis and wrote this research paper during a single semester. Her research is novel because, unlike previous studies, her research seeks to differentiate between self-harm and suicidal behaviors. She and Dr. Chang have recently submitted this research paper to the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Through her research, Jerin discovered that library research is an iterative, yet rewarding, process. Described as “truly exceptional” by her mentor, she used a wide variety of resources at the University of Michigan Library for this research paper, including Mirlyn, PsycINFO, PubMed and Google Scholar. She made impressive use of the Library’s print collections, including bound psychology journals, and learned the joy of surreptitious discovery in the stacks. Jerin also utilized interlibrary loan to access books not held by the Library. When searching for online journal articles, she expertly navigated online databases, including using the many filter functions and combing through bibliographies in search of relevant articles. Her mentor states “the depth of her general knowledge and her ability to appraise information critically and constructively regularly impressed me as well as others.” It is with pleasure that the Undergraduate Research Award Committee recognizes Jerin Lee with the second place award in the Single-Term Project category for 2016.

Michelle HobanThird Place ($250):  Michelle Hoban - Kill Your Darlings: Birth Control, Child Abandonment, and Infanticide in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Britain

Format:  Research Paper

For her paper for English 451: The Marriage Plot, Michelle Hoban examined Daniel Defoe’s attitudes towards reproductive rights in eighteenth century Britain, chiefly through his novel Roxana and his essay A Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed. To make sense of Defoe’s sometimes contradictory views, Hoban made use of several primary sources to understand how the issues were being framed in the larger British society at the time. As her research expanded, Hoban discovered the utility of scholarly bibliographies to identify relevant sources, in addition to searching in online databases such as Artemis Primary Sources. Hoban also employed visualization techniques, such as timelines and term frequency graphs, in order to better understand the relationship between the works and their milieu. As the topics being discussed were generally considered taboo, Hoban had to become a literary detective, employing both primary and secondary sources to get a more clear picture as to how and why Defoe could address these topics sympathetically in his novel while being more condemning in his essay, producing a piece of writing that, in the words of the course’s professor, “was a truly inventive piece of research, tackling difficult material with ingenuity, sensitivity, rationality, and tact.” The awards committee takes great pleasure in recognizing Michelle Hoban’s work of scholarship with the third place award in the Single-Term Project category for 2016.

Cassidy GoldblattGlobal Award ($500):  Cassidy Goldblatt - When Isolation Fosters Creativity: The Oddities of the Las Huelgas Manuscript

Format: Research Paper

The U-M Library Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to grant the Global Award in the Maize Award category for Single Term Projects to Cassidy Goldblatt for her research paper in the Department of Musicology entitled “When Isolation Fosters Creativity: The Oddities of the Las Huelgas Manuscript.” Cassidy provides an engaging and nuanced analysis of the recomposition of certain motets found within the Las Huelgas codex (an extensive music manuscript containing over 140 works copied for the female monastery of Santa Maria la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos, Spain around the turn of the 14th century) that occurred during the process of their transmission from France in the late 13th century. She examines the highly atypical features of those works and presents possible explanations for their modification. The committee was impressed by Cassidy’s exploration and utilization of a vast amount of resources – from books, journal articles and modern musical editions to specialized materials such as manuscript facsimiles, notation studies, and indexes and catalogues of early motet repertoire – to support her research and produce a fascinating project.

Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects

Karina LopezFirst Place ($1,000):  Karina Lopez - Effects of Disorder on Fear of Crime, Perceived Risk of Victimization, and Constrained Social Behavior

Format:  Honors Thesis

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to award First Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-Term Projects to Karina Lopez for her honors thesis in Sociology titled “Effects of Disorder on Fear of Crime, Perceived Risk of Victimization, and Constrained Social Behavior”. Her thesis analyzes how perceptions of neighborhood disorder in her hometown of Flint, Michigan relate to residents’ fear of crime and how those perceptions in turn influence the places they visit. Lopez found that residents were more likely to change their behavior if they expressed high levels of fear but that behavioral change was much more likely if residents expressed high levels of both fear and perceived risk of victimization.

Lopez not only conducted a very thorough literature search using library resources such as ArticlesPlus, the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology and the Sociological Abstracts database; she then reached out to experts such as Susan Turkel, then Sociology librarian, Sue Wortman then Social Work librarian, staff from the Clark Library and two experts from the Institute for Social Research who helped her narrow down her topic, and design her research study. The committee was impressed by the fact that Lopez went a step further and used a mixed methods approach, conducting 125 surveys that she personally administered door-to-door in randomly selected neighborhood blocks in areas chosen based on specific socioeconomic characteristics. This field research allowed her to compare survey responses about disorder to objective measures of disorder.

Karina writes in her self-reflection: “As my project grew so did my skills as a researcher. I learned to be more critical of sources I referenced in my work, to anticipate and respond to alternative viewpoints. I asked for help often and as a result I learned new ways of finding and organizing information. I took advantage of resources I had never used before. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I learned not to get too attached to any one idea but instead to allow my project to be shaped by the practice of research itself.” Karina’s advisor, Sociology Professor Jeffrey Morenoff notes that Karina’s thesis “…is quite simply the most remarkable piece of research that any undergraduate student I have worked with has produced.” It was a pleasure to read Karina Lopez’ thesis and this award is well deserved.

Kara MullisonSecond Place ($500):  Kara Mullison - Creating Change through Spectacle: Art, Life, and Politics in 1960s Guerrilla Theatre

Format:  Honors Thesis

Kara Mullison candidly highlights the student’s research dilemma, writing, “I spent the summer avoiding the library out of guilt.”  Once Mullison bridged the gap from research question to research investigation with that first Mirlyn search, she began finding resources that led to further inquiry and additional resources. Research is an incremental, iterative process, that, as Mullison noted in her essay, requires ‘perseverance and elbow grease.’ The Undergraduate Research Award Committee is pleased to recognize Mullison’s outstanding research project “Creating Change through Spectacle: Art, Life and Politics in 1960s Guerrilla Theatre” with the Second Place, Blue Award.  

Mullison’s project examines the development and activities of avant-garde guerilla theatre groups and agitational guerrilla theatre groups; both of which are simultaneously political and artistic, yet show distinct differences. Connecting contemporaneous documents and secondary discourse on guerrilla theatre, Mullison argues that avant-garde groups had the goal of breaking down boundaries between art and life in service of the antiwar movement, while the agitational groups employed artistic innovations for direct political effect to compel action by audiences. After providing an account of the tradition of guerilla theatre in America, she looks closely at the phenomenon of guerilla theatre in response to the Vietnam War positing that radical theatre is both the language for and the messenger of change. Through the research process, she learned to discern the author’s voice and identify the polemics behind the voice. Mullison’s advisor, History Professor Howard Brick, noted that “Kara writes with lucidity, grace, and insight, giving the reader a palpable sense of how esthetic critique and social critique may, for some artists, be vitally intertwined.” Though the waning days of the Vietnam War meant the demise of this particular expression of guerilla theatre, the legacy of radical theatre continues in such movements as Occupy Wall Street and no doubt will continue to affect American political discourse into the future.

Photo of Alec Ramsay-SmithThird Place ($250):  Alec Ramsay-Smith - A Tremor in the Middle of the Iceberg: SNCC and Local Voting Rights Activism in Southwestern Mississippi, 1928-1964

Format:  Honors Thesis

With a passion for political activism and growing indignation over recent laws that defacto limit access to the political process for vunerable populations, Alec Ramsay-Smith directed his intellectual energies toward the history of voting rights supression.

Alec's honors thesis, “A Tremor in the Middle of the Iceberg: The SNCC and Local Voting Rights Activism in Southwestern Mississippi, 1928-1964,” traces the deep roots of political activism in McComb, Mississippi, and it's formative impact on the momentous "Freedom Summer" of 1964. Drawing from government archives, contemporary newspapers, interviews, oral histories, and other source material held in various libraries around the country, including U-M's own Labadie Collection, Alec constructs a highly detailed analysis of the local black community's 40-year struggle to increase voter registration despite venonmous and deadly opposition from the white majority. The SNCC’s enty into McComb and tactics for mobilization are discussed in detail.

Previous scholarship recognized the 1961 McComb voter registration drive as the first in a series of SNCC programs in Mississippi, and a relatively unsuccessful one at that. On the contrary, the research Alec so painstakingly presents in "A Tremor in the Middle of the Iceberg" secures McComb's significance as foundational to later successes. In Alec's own words, "Each 'failure' planted the seeds for future activism, and ensured the next time the local movement would be more experienced, find a more expansive base of support, and be better able to resist whites. The McComb story sheds light on these perceived failures in the greater narrative of the civil rights movement."

Alec recognizes the guidance of librarians, particularly Alexa Pearce, and his academic advisor, who helped point him toward new resources, especially secondary sources, in this time period when local newspapers in the Jim Crow South were unlikely to cover black resistence. The selection committee was particulary impressed with Alec's observation of the "softening" of first-person narratives over time. He came to understand that original records, rather than later recollections, provided the clearest snapshots of the hearts and minds of the local McComb residents and the visiting SNCC organizers. "It was always necessary to understand," writes Alec, "for what audiences certain documents were written and the motivations of the authors."

Alec's academic advisor writes: "With this suberb thesis, Alec Ramsay-Smith has demonstrated his capacity for original research in library collections and for historical and social-scientific scholarship of the highest order."

Photo of Hannah FeldshuhGlobal Award ($500):  Hannah Feldshuh - Gender, Sexism, And Marriage Practice In Contemporary China: A Study Of ‘Shengnü’ (‘Leftover Women’) In Popular Media

Format:  Honors Thesis

The subject of Hannah Feldshuh’s paper is the Chinese term, ‘Shengnü’, that means ‘leftover women’. This phrase has only recently entered the Chinese language and refers to women who are highly successful yet unmarried and over the age of 27. In order to analyze this concept Hannah examines three different Chinese television programs that deal with ‘leftover women’. She dissects this concept from a number of different perspectives: a close reading of media, sociological and gender studies theories, and independent interviews with both female and male viewers.

Her findings are extremely relevant to women’s studies. To a very large extent there is a “shaming” aspect to using the term ‘leftover women’. The three television programs that were analyzed present leftover women as being problems to society and being undesirable. The interviews that Hannah did with Chinese nationals here in Michigan on their conceptions of ‘shengnü’ also point out the shaming aspects although there is actually a great amount of variance on the interpretation of the concept itself.

As her advisor points out, Hannah’s research has pointed out a major discrepancy between the ‘leftover women’ and the current demographic patterns in China. With there being a shunning of the ‘leftover women’ this creates a situation where there are fewer eligible women to marry. It also points to the psychological inadequacies of society’s negative view of the women.

In terms of library work it should be noted that Hannah did an excellent job in using the many resources available. She worked very closely with the Chinese Studies librarian with the result that she was able to obtain relevant materials through many different sources even if they were unavailable in Michigan’s library. The variety of materials she used to support her ideas were quite broad including print and online materials in both English and Chinese.

All in all this is an excellent highly relevant paper on current day Chinese women and society.

2014-2015 Winners

Sponsored by: William A. Gosling Library Fund, Jack and Lenora Habel Fund, Roger and Esther Heyns Fund, M. Newton Zucker Fund, and MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Fund.

Maize Award for Single Term Projects

photo: Bing SunFirst Place ($1,000): Bing Sun- The Influence of Ethnic Minority Demographics on Provincial Preferential Policy Making in the Chinese College Admission System

Format: Research Paper

During the Winter 2015 semester, Bing Sun participated in the Michigan in Washington semester, in which UM students take classes and have an internship in Washington D.C. for a full semester of credit. An integral part of this semester is writing a research paper on a topic of choice. Bing, as an international student from China, chose to explore in influence of ethnic minority demographics in provincial preferential policy making in the Chinese college admission system, specifically the addition of bonus points to the National College Entrance Examination for members of ethnic minorities. This examination determines if student are will attend a university and to which specific university.

Even though Bing wasn’t in physically on the UM campus, she used variety of online resources through UM library website to find scholarly articles. Additionally, she visited the library at George Washington University to obtain copies of books that became the foundation of her research and the request additional items through interlibrary loan. As a native Chinese speaker, she was able to use Chinese language databases which allowed her to access a much wider array of literature written by Chinese scholars. As professor Edie Goldenberg stated, Bing “pursued her topic relentlessly and imaginatively, digging deep to find resources I never realized existed.”

One of the most impressive parts of Bing’s research was her very thorough evaluation of the quality of the resources that she found, such as critically examining non-peer reviewed articles. Due to differing academic standards, Bing thoroughly examined the articles themselves as well as the sources cited in the bibliography in order to determine the quality of each article. The Undergraduate Research Award Committee is honored to recognize Bing Sun with the first place award for the Single term Project category for 2015.

photo of students presentingSecond Place ($500): Obadiah Brown, Maria Buczkowski, Chris Haughey, Kevin Trierweiler, and Andreea Matei-  Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan, 1965-1972

Format: Website, Online Exhibit​ 

In developing their Website documenting the Anti-Vietnam War Movement at UM, this five person team explored a variety of primary sources to develop a comprehensive view of the movement and its legacy.

In addition to using the extensive resources of the Bentley Historical Library and the Joseph A. Labadie Collection at U-M—including the librarians who helped the students develop search strategies and use the libraries’ materials effectively—the students broadened their research by using the Ann Arbor District Library’s Old News database of historical local news sources, and also conducting interviews with many of the leaders of the original movement. By combining these multiple research paths they were able to “comprehend the connection between the differing tactics within the movement” and greater contextualize the resources they found. They turned the results of their research into a dynamic Website, which often presents multiple and sometimes opposing viewpoints, a “public exhibit that tracks the history of the movement and pieces together the perspectives of various key players who were involved.”

The group’s stated aim was to “pay homage to those involved in the Anti- Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan.” The awards committee believes that they have been successful in this goal, and are pleased to present them with one of the Maize Awards for single term projects.

Student, Tina YuThird Place ($250): Tina Yu- Hope Under Assault: Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault on the Relation Between Hope and Suicidal Risk

Format: Directed Study, Research Paper

Inspired by the work of French 16th century philosopher Pierre Charron and informed by contemporary inquiries and investigations, Tina Yu helped develop a new theory involving the notion that sexual assault may affect the relationship between hope and despair.  Her advisor, Professor Edward Chang, noted that her work both tested the hypothesis and revealed, “that the association between hope and measures of suicidal risk was intensified for those who experienced sexual assault victimization.” 

Described as “an accomplished and highly motivated” student, Yu noted how her use of library collections and databases provided a firm foundation for the exploration into her field of study.  Through the research process, she learned progressively more powerful ways to search databases and evaluate results.  Her research led her to revise her preconceptions and realize nuance surrounding the scholarship on hope and adjustment.  She was able to apply that new knowledge to her survey work and advance our understanding of hope as it affects suicidal risk of sexual assault victims.  It is with pleasure that the Undergraduate Research Award Committee recognizes Tina Yu with the third place award in the Single-Term Project category for 2015.

students presentingGlobal Award ($500): Emily Bodden, Mario Goetz, Emilie Neumeier, Aaron Szulczewski, and Leslie Teng-  Divestment for Humanity: The Anti-Apartheid Movement at the University of Michigan

Format: Website, Online Exhibit

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to grant the Global Award in the Maize Award category for Single Term Projects to Emily Bodden, Mario Goetz, Emilie Neumeier, Aaron Szulczewski, and Leslie Teng for their project in the Department of History entitled "Divestment for Humanity: The Anti-Apartheid Movement at the University of Michigan."  The five-member student team underwent the daunting task of creating an online exhibit that is, according to their professor, Matthew Lassiter, "the most original and comprehensive account of anti-apartheid activism at American universities available to anyone."

Through its use of a wide array of digitized archival documents and images, interviews, and a powerful textual narrative split into five chronological sections, this unique scholarly resource successfully provides a nuanced analysis of the anti-apartheid movement at U-M and places it in broader national and international contexts.  The committee was impressed by the team's extensive exploration and use of primary sources within numerous archival collections in the Bentley Historical Library and within the Joseph A. Labadie Collection in the Special Collections Library.  They supplemented these resources with plenty of books as well as journal, magazine and newspaper articles.  The committee was also pleased with how the team smartly utilized librarians to assist them in developing their searching abilities in order to identify pertinent resources and collections to research.

Deftly navigating the logistics of digitization, the oft-troublesome task of securing rights to images and documents, and of building the website, the team coalesced a vast amount of information into an online resource that, as Lassiter states, "has more potential to make a meaningful contribution to public history and original scholarship than any other undergraduate history project."


Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects

Student, Sara Ann KnutsonFirst Place ($1,000): Sara Ann Knutson-  Bridges to Eternity: Women, Conversion, & Religion in Viking-Age Sweden 

Format: Honors Thesis

Combining archaeological sleuthing, careful translation and reading of primary sources, thorough gathering and analysis of secondary sources, painstaking creation of data, and diligent development of technical skills to chart and interpret the data, Sara Ann Knutson reveals a compelling story of the intersection of religion and landscape in Viking Sweden.  Knutson’s work deftly merges the approaches and methodologies of multiple disciplines, including linguistics, art history, numismatics, literature, history, climatology, zoology, archaeology, anthropology, cartography, and toponymy.  The opportunity to visit archives and research collections in Sweden, allowed her to consult and collaborate with Swedish historians and scholars.  Her research questions brought her to library specialists in language studies, medieval studies, Scandinavian studies, Old Norse, and spatial data.  She utilized and relied on resources ranging from the most comprehensive of databases such as ArticlesPlus to the most focused of databases such as the ATLA Religion Database and Smnordisk Runtestdatabas. 

Using both qualitative and quantitative research Knutson drew new conclusions about rune stones and bridge building, shedding light on the relationship of women, patronage, religion and landscape, not to mention our understanding of medieval Sweden.  Katherine French, Professor of History and Knutson’s advisor, notes that while earlier work looks at rune stones as archaeological artifacts, Knutson’s innovative investigations expose women’s roles in their creation and erection, the function of the stones in conversion to Christianity, and their place in the broader context of medieval Christianity.  The Undergraduate Research Award Committee is honored to recognize Sara Ann Knutson with the first place award for the Multi-term Project category for 2015.

Video reflection

Photo of Samuel Schotland

Second Place ($500): Samuel Schotland-  Making “Healthy” Height: A History of American Stature, 1885-1940

Format: Honors Thesis

Starting with an intriguing case study, Sam Schotland’s study “Making ‘healthy’ Height”, is an extremely well researched  examination of the medical diagnosis and treatment of what is the “correct” height for an individual. The paper uses a wide range of materials to give a comprehensive portrait of issues concerning height and the various medical views of the problem. Schotland not only intensively utilized the collections here at the university but also went to Yale to use the Harvey Cushing papers as well as the archives of the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. His use of resources was exactly that of a seasoned researcher although he was essentially starting off in the field.

Schotland’s study uses newspapers strategically to illustrate the different scientific views of height. It also should be noted that he includes some wonderful images to call attention to some of the disparities. All in all, it’s a very well researched and readable paper that is also entertaining. A very fine study.

Photo of Emily PaullThird Place ($250): Emily Paull-  Ann Batten Cristall and the Lyrical Sketch: The Influence of Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics on Lyric Performativity

Format: Honors Thesis

Emily Paull’s honors thesis “Ann Batten Cristall and the Lyrical Sketch: the Influence of Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics on Lyric Performativity” weaves together scholarship of British Romantic poetry, eighteenth-century aesthetics, media studies, and literary theory in order to shed light on the poetry of Ann Batten Cristall. Paull’s research leverages resources found in databases such as the Dictionary of National Biography, Project Muse, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, MLA International Bibliography, and more. She consulted librarians throughout her research process, and chased countless citations for sources about the little studied Cristall. 

Ann Batten Cristall, who published one slim volume of poetry in 1795, has largely been ignored as a Romantic poet. Paull’s thesis places Cristall’s poetry in the genre of the “lyrical sketch”—a lyric poem that creates a visual sketch in the mind of the reader. She positions Cristall and the poet William Blake as equals in talent, revealing the pictorial and musical elements of each poet’s lyric. In doing so Paull establishes Cristall that what has been considered “irregular” in Cristall’s poetry as what makes Cristall an innovative, experimental, and important Romantic poet. 

Paull’s thesis advisor, Professor Marjorie Levinson, wrote of Paull, “her energy and zeal for research are off-the-charts impressive; she is a born literary and cultural historian whose responsiveness to the aesthetic dimension is remarkable.” It is with pleasure that the Undergraduate Research Award Committee recognizes Emily Paull with a third place prize in the Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects. 

Student, Monique BeckerGlobal Award ($500): Monique Becker-  An Escape from the Perceived Rationalist-Constructivist Binary: A Look Into Derogable Human Rights Agreements

Format: Honors thesis

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to award the Global Prize in the Blue Award category for Multi-Term Projects to Monique Becker for her honors thesis in the Program in International and Comparative Studies titled “An Escape from the Perceived Rationalist-Constructivist Binary: A Look into Derogable International Human Rights Agreements”.

Monique’s thesis analyzes escape clauses in three international human rights treaties: the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. Her focus was on the decision-making process for choosing some rights as “non-derogable”. She used both constructivist and rationalist theories to explain the motivation behind the drafting of these treaties.

In her personal essay, Monique writes eloquently about the challenges she faced in her research and about her growth as a researcher. She credits the expert guidance of librarians as fundamental to the completion of her research. A library workshop provided by Catherine Morse the U-M Library’s Government Information, Law and Political Science Librarian led her to locate key primary and secondary sources. With Catherine’s help, she was able to locate travaux préparatoires which are the preparatory notes and meeting minutes that led to the creation of these human rights treaties. Monique was able to use her Spanish-language skills to read some of these primary documents, available only in Spanish.

Monique also consulted a wealth of secondary sources utilizing library resources such as ArticlesPlus, Mirlyn, Google Scholar, JSTOR, HeinOnline, Interlibrary Loan and the Law Library. She was also able to master research techniques such as citation mining and advanced search strategies. It was a pleasure to read Monique’s thesis and this award is well deserved.


2013 - 2014 Winners

Sponsored by: William A. Gosling Library Fund, Jack and Lenora Habel Fund, M. Newton Zucker Fund, and MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Fund.

Maize Award for Single Term Projects

Andrew TuckFirst Place ($1,000): Andrew Tuck - Pleasure and Desire in Anti-Methamphetamine Posters Targeting Gay Men

Format: Directed Study, Research Paper

The paper submitted by Andrew Tuck, “Pleasure and Desire in Anti-Methamphetamine Posters Targeting Gay Men” examined the increasingly important health concern of HIV transmission among gay males who use methamphetamines.  Andrew focuses on both locally created anti-methamphetamine poster projects, done by local gay activists in New York, and another produced by the U.S. Attorney’s office which was also viewed by New Yorkers, as a way to contextualize the efficacy of these health marketing efforts.  This research was done as an independent study project and Andrew relied on the use of library resources, freely available information online, the guidance and input of other academics, and communicated directly with AIDS activists involved in these campaigns.

The Research Award Committee was most notably impressed with the way Andrew described his research process as outlined in his personal essay.  He clearly showed how he changed his questions and scope based on the information he was finding, and how communicating with others active in the field played a significant role in shaping his research.  This paper represents the type of interdisciplinary intellectual vigor one would expect from a more seasoned researcher and truly shows why this award winner is one of the best undergraduate research award contenders.  Andrew went above beyond the basics of just “doing research” and created what all scholars strive for by establishing new knowledge.

Katy RobinsonSecond Place ($500): Katy Robinson - Digital Archiving of Reconstructed Performance

Format: Database

The presentation of research can take many forms.  The second place winner of this year’s Maize Category is presented to Katy Robinson, content specialist for the multi-media web-based project “19thcenturyACTS!” [].  As a historian and researcher for the website, Katy Robinson sought out, curated, and prepared rich visual, textual, and audio materials from nearly 50 plays and over 300 performances by Ira Aldridge, a renowned African-American stage actor of the nineteenth century.  Her professor noted that Katy was motivated not only by her excitement of working with archival materials, but also her keen interest in the effective and coherent organization of data.  Katy noted in her essay that this project, with its inclusion of many media types, pushed her “to think critically about how to effectively use my resources” and challenged her historical research skills thereby making her a better researcher.

Drawing materials from bibliographic and visual sources in archives and libraries, as well as numerous online image databases, Katy provides a vivid and in-depth portrayal of Aldridge, as well as the practices and methods of 19th century stage acting.  For instance, 19th century images of gestures used to portray common emotions are juxtaposed with contemporary video of the acting principles portrayed by current U of M drama students.  The website invites one to explore the world of Ira Aldridge by play, theater, location, and role.  One can also learn by listening to audio descriptions of 19th century stage technology; e.g. lighting and set design.  Katy worked with a team on designing the website to present an informative and inviting portrayal of the oft-hidden world of 19th century stagecraft.

Madeline TayerThird Place ($250): Madeleine Tayer - Rebellions, Punishment, and Justice in the Elizabethan Era

Format: Research Paper

Madeleine Tayer’s paper, “Rebellions, Punishment, and Justice in the Elizabethan Era,” was written for a course on Elizabethan Culture and The Faerie Queene.  In her paper, Tayer compares Queen Elizabeth’s response to two different Catholic rebellions that occurred in 1569:  the Northern Rebellion in Northumberland, England and the first Desmond Rebellion in Ireland.  She discusses the difference in strategies employed by Elizabeth I in responding to the rebellions and the differing long-term results of those policy decisions.  In addition to modern journal articles and books, Tayer referenced historical documents including a pardon the queen delivered to some of the rebels.  As her professor noted, Tayer “tackled the difficult issues of policy, social and national cohesion, and affective identification.  Her research was beautifully synthesized and the essay written with considerable analytical precision, organizational and stylistic elegance.”  The award committee was impressed by her use of using of citation chasing, her well-rounded bibliography, and the way her thesis was supported with clear documentation and the development of her theme.


Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects

Julia GantmanFirst Place ($1,000): Julia Gantman - The Post Office, the Public Lecture and "Dejection: an Ode": Public Influences on Coleridge's Poetic Intimacy 

Format: Honors Thesis

Julia Gantman’s honors thesis “The Post Office, the Public Lecture and ‘Dejection: An Ode’: Public Influences of Coleridge’s Poetic Intimacy” explores the Samuel T. Coleridge’s writing and writing style in the context of the British Post Office and the public lecture. Gantman deftly traces Coleridge’s letters and lectures, using archival sources stored at Victoria University in Toronto, Canada, and secondary sources. Throughout the thesis Gantman clearly lays out the historical context in which Coleridge lived and wrote. She quotes letters from Coleridge to friends that contain lines of poems he had yet to write, as well as drafts of poems. Through clear and highly readable prose, Gantman describes Coleridge’s writing process through piecing together his letters and lectures. The intimacy of Coleridge’s letters is reflected in his poem “Dejection: an Ode.” Through letter writing, Coleridge drafted and edited his writing, such as “Dejection: an Ode,” before he published it. Gantman argues that Coleridge’s lectures were written in a similar style to his letters and were essentially letters written for a public audience.

The committee was impressed by Gantman’s engaging writing style, impressive use of sources both primary and secondary, and groundbreaking scholarship. Gantman sets the historical context for Coleridge’s relationship with letter writing with accuracy and grace. In doing so, she paints a clear picture of how Coleridge’s writing style reflects his society. Gantman’s thesis sheds new light on Coleridge, a much-studied literary figure.

Video reflection

Second Place ($500) Nathan Chesterman - Mapping a Novel Hedonic Hotspot in Insular Cortex

Format: Honors Thesis

While performing a literature search in preparation for his honors thesis experiment in neuroscience, Nathan discovered that scant research had been done on the role of a certain region of the brain—the insula, or insular cortex—in laboratory rats.  Nathan thus designed an experiment to show that there are so-called ‘hedonistic hotspots’ in rat brains that play a role in mediating pleasure and disgust.  Nathan further used evidence from his literature search to show that these results have important evolutionary implications on social and economic rewards in humans, and points towards possible directions for future research.  Nathan’s lab supervisor praised not only his experimental design but also his ability to synthesize literature from multiple fields to create a theoretical framework for the experiment, demonstrating “an incredible ability to synthesize and process diffuse and complicated information, using that ability to successfully conduct scholarly research which resulted in a truly superb multi-term thesis.”  For demonstrating an ability to use the interplay of multidisciplinary literature research and laboratory research to expand the frontiers of scientific knowledge, the award committee is pleased to award him the second place Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects.

Vincent LongoThird Place ($250) Vincent Longo - Going Around the World with Orson Welles: A Multimedia Auteur

Format: Honors Thesis

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to award the third place Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects to Vincent Longo for his honors thesis in the Department of Screen Arts & Cultures titled “Going Around the World with Orson Welles: A Multimedia Auteur.”  Vincent’s thesis reconstructs and analyzes “Around the World”, one of Orson Welles stage plays which opened in 1946.  Although much has been written about Welles and his body of work, this particular play has been overlooked by scholars since it was a commercial and financial failure.  Additionally, no recordings of the play survive.

Vincent dove deep into primary sources, conducting research at different locations around the country.  The committee was impressed by Vincent’s use of MLibrary resources such as its Special Collections, the Mirlyn Catalog and the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database as well as outside resources such as archives at the Lilly Library at Indiana University and the New York Library for the Performing Arts.  He went a step further and created his own “personal digital archive” by photographing hundreds of items from these archives.  By carefully analyzing and confronting these materials, Vincent was able to re-construct the stage production of “Around the World” and understand the use of different film sequences in the play.

In his personal essay, Vincent writes eloquently about the challenges he faced when trying to understand and re-create the play.  A breakthrough came when he discovered that Orson Welles was familiar with European multimedia theater from the 1920s and 1930s.  In light of this influence, Vincent was able to explore new ground in understanding Welles not only as a film or theater director but also as a multimedia auteur.

Video reflection

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2012 - 2013 Winners

Sponsored by: Frederick H. Wagman Memorial Fund, Roger and Esther Heyns Fund, and MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Fund.

Maize Award for Single-Term Projects

First Place ($1,000):  Elizabeth Yu - Optimism/Pessimism and Future Orientation in Predicting Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Behavior in Primary Care Adults
Format: Research Paper

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.

Second Place ($500):  Frank Sedlar - Engineering Industrial Architecture: Albert Kahn and the Trussed Concrete Steel Company
Format: Research Paper

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.
Video Reflection


Third Place ($250):  Andrew Tuck - The Rise of Osteopathic Medicine in the United States: A Foucauldian Perspective
Format: Research Paper

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.
Video Reflection


Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects

First Place ($1,000):  Jennifer Xu - Hollowed Out: The Traumatized Flesh of W.G. Sebald's Prose Fictions
Format: Honors Thesis

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.  

Second Place ($500):  Laura Torp - “So Strange Things So Probably Told”: Epistemic Consequences of Scientific Discourse in Lunar Travel Narratives
Format: Honors Thesis

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.   


Third Place ($250): Stephanie Berger - Treating Bones: The Intersection of Archaeology And Conservation
Format: Honors 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. 

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2011 - 2012 Winners

Sponsored by: MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award Fund and Harold and Vivian Shapiro Undergraduate Library Fund.

The 2011-1012 awards were supported by donations from Dr. Robert Bartlett, Jillian and John Castrucci, and Dave and Julie Goodrich, with additional employment-related matching contributions.

First Prize ($1,000):  A. Brad Schwartz - The War of the Worlds Letters: Orson Welles, Fake News, and American Democracy in the Golden Age of Radio
Format: Honors Thesis

A.Brad Schwartz’s history honors thesis, “The War of the Worlds Letters: Orson Welles, Fake News, and American Democracy in the Golden Age of Radio,” is thoroughly researched and a pleasure to read.  This  is an impressive thesis, both because it reflects original and wide-ranging research and because it is engagingly written and well argued.

In approaching his topic, he has thought comprehensively, drawing on extensive archival, print, and digital sources to fully contextualize Welles’s broadcast.  He offers a persuasive argument that the War of the Worlds broadcast, and its accompanying myth of widespread panic, should be read within a broader historical and political context.  As he points out, the narrative of panic has led scholars to overlook the more subtle debate engendered by the broadcast, a debate over censorship and the power of the media to influence its listeners.  In his analysis, Brad weaves together an impressive range of sources, moving between a nuanced discussion of the historiography and an in-depth analysis of archival sources, such as the previously unused Richard Wilson-Orson Welles papers in MLibrary’s Special Collections.  Even after uncovering a rich archive in the Wilson-Welles papers, Brad broadened his analysis by examining collections at Indiana’s Lilly Library, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the National Archives.  Overall, his thesis opens up a fresh critical understanding of the public response to the War of the Worlds broadcast in important and new ways. 
Video Reflection 

Second Prize ($500): Mita Nagarkar - A Life History Analysis of Invasive Behavior in Native and Naturalized Species: Rubus odoratus and Rubus allegheniensis
Format: Honors Thesis

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is delighted to recognize Mita Nagarkar for her outstanding honors thesis in the Program in the Environment, “A Life History Analysis of Invasive Behavior in Native and Naturalized Species: Rubus odoratus and Rubus allegheniensis in the Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI.” Through her investigation of the life history traits of two populations of Rubus plants (raspberry and blackberry species), Ms. Nagarkar conducted original research that shed light on the characteristics of locally invasive species in urban woodland habitats. Her project also led to larger questions regarding ecosystem management, biodiversity, and conservation efforts for disturbed habitats, particularly within the context of climate change. 

The committee was struck by the rigor of Ms. Nagarkar’s research process, the level of introspection she shared in her personal essay, and the quality of writing in her thesis. She demonstrated an impressive amount of determination and follow-through in her use of a variety of subject and general article databases, such as ISI Web of Knowledge, JSTOR, and Google Scholar, and in her rich selection of books, government documents, and arboretum websites that were germane to her topic. Her enthusiasm for this project was palpable, and her discussion of research challenges was particularly compelling. When she hit an impasse with regards to her literature review, or confronted challenges in the dynamic environmental conditions of her testing site, she did not halt her inquiry, but instead thought of new and creative ways to address these issues and uncover material that might further enrich her research. In fact, she spent time in three separate libraries and archives in addition to MLibrary- the Nichols Arboretum, the Bentley Historical Library, and the University of Michigan Herbarium- to gain an even broader perspective on her topic. Additionally, she conducted interviews with a range of specialists who could share insight and expertise, including horticulturists, landscape architects, restoration ecologists, and historians. 
Video Reflection

Third Prize ($250): Katy Robinson – History of African-American Celebrity: The Fisk Jubilee Singers
Format: UROP Poster

Katy Robinson’s project, “History of African-American Celebrity: The Fisk Jubilee Singers,” is an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) poster.   The committee was impressed by her extensive use of primary sources related to the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  In her research, Katy drew on an array of electronic collections and materials, as well as materials in the Clements Library.  We were particularly struck by her thoughtful approach to the complexities of database searching.   In addition, her poster is well designed in its presentation of images, primary texts, research objectives, methods, and results.  She did a fabulous job of articulating the research questions driving her process, as well as the implications of her findings.  

Honorable Mention ($100 Each): 

Anthony Chase - Divergent Political Dynamics of Islamic Banking in Britain & France
Format: Honors Thesis

Anthony Chase’s Political Science honors thesis, “Divergent Political Dynamics of Islamic Banking in Britain & France,” was well researched and interesting to read.  We found his  research journey interesting and were impressed by how, after extensive work in one topic (including a 30 page literature review), he was willing to start over to pursue a topic he felt passionate about.  In his well written thesis, he clearly laid out the differences in Islamic banking between the UK and France, explaining the reason for these differences from a variety of angles (political and social philosophy, financial regulations, government support, etc.)  He used a wonderful array of resources from scholarly materials in finance and economics, books on Islamic finance and banking and political history to industry trade magazines, government documents, and popular media reports – impressively in three languages.
Video Reflection

Jaquelin Elliott - The Leviathan and The Cyborg: The Influence of Moby-Dick in Sci-Fi Horror Films
Format: Research Paper

Jaquelin Elliott’s English 398 paper, “The Leviathan and The Cyborg:  The Influence of Moby-Dick in Sci-Fi Horror Films,” was interesting and fun to read.  We were impressed by her video montage of film clips to illustrate points about how Moby-Dick and several iconic science fiction horror films share similarities in language and imagery.  She did a nice job of expanding on Stephen King’s work to add an additional card to the horror genre tarot card deck concept he outlined.   As part of her research, she carefully watched several science fiction horror films and read the screenplays to look for common themes, in addition to reading books on the topic.  Finally, we were delighted to hear from her professor that she “generously helped other students identify and find primary and secondary sources … serving [as] a kind of self-appointed student ambassador to the UM Library and its literary research more broadly.”  
Video Reflection

Bryan LaPointe – “Why all this haste?”: The Importance of the Moderates' Perspective in the American Revolution
Format: Research Paper

The MLibrary Undergraduate Library Research Award Committee is pleased to award an Honorable Mention to Bryan LaPointe for his semester-long project, “Why all this Haste?”: The Importance of the Moderates’ Perspective in the American Revolution.” This paper was not only a pleasure to read, but was impressive in its extensive use of primary source material to examine the activities, events, and philosophies associated with colonial moderates during the time of the American Revolution. LaPointe made good use of secondary sources to gather contextual clues and keywords for deep exploration of primary documents from the 18th century, and demonstrated a facility with primary research that challenges even the most sophisticated researcher. In fact, LaPointe went beyond the parameters of the assignment to use additional firsthand correspondence to support his argument, making use of the Library of Congress American Memory Project. He also showed a deft ability to leverage the work done by scholars in the secondary literature, in order to track down additional material in support of his paper, and the committee was impressed by the care and deliberation he employed in order to balance his own point of view with that of the secondary scholarship he consulted. LaPointe displayed an admirable plasticity in his research process, recognizing the meandering nature of scholarly inquiry and the need to remain flexible and open to discovery.

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2010 - 2011 Winners

Sponsored by: Public Services Unit Support

First Prize ($1,000): 

Emily Schiller - To Give Medicine Back to The People: Community Health Activism of the Black Panther Party
Format: Honors Thesis

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.
Video Reflection

Second Prize ($500): Sita Marie Syal - Energy from Waste: Characterization and Reuse Feasibility of Incinerated Municipal Solid Waste
Format: Poster

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.
Video Reflection 

Third Prize ($500): 

Shirley Chen – “To work, write, sing and fight for women’s liberation”: Proto-Feminist Currents in the American Left, 1946-1961
Format: Honors Thesis

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. 

Honorable Mention ($100 Each):

Georgia Ennis - The Social Functions and Implications of Voseo in Quito, Ecuador: A Linguistic and Anthropological Account
Format: Honors Thesis

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.
Video Reflection

Leanna First-Arai - Urban Exacerbation: The Ineffectiveness of Drug Treatment and Law Enforcement in 1970’s Detroit
Format: Research Paper

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 - Multilateralism with an American Face: The U.S., Great Britain, and the Formation of the Postwar Economic Order, 1941-1947
Format: Honors Thesis

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.

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