Four undergraduate students at the University of California, San Diego have been awarded the 2015 Undergraduate Library Research Prize in recognition of their superior research skills. The annual award, sponsored by the UC San Diego Library, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and the UCSD Alumni Association, recognizes students who have demonstrated exemplary research skills in mining the Library’s rich and diverse information resources and services. Awards are given in two categories: Social Sciences/Arts/Humanities, and Life and Physical Sciences. The awards also include a cash prize of $1,000 and $500 for first and second place, respectively.
“The purpose of this prize is to encourage and recognize excellent research skills among our undergraduates, which includes the ability to exploit a wide range of digital and physical library resources,” said Brian E. C. Schottlaender, The Audrey Geisel University Librarian. “The Library—with our partners in Student Affairs and Alumni Affairs—is honored to recognize these talented students, who’ve learned that solid academic research doesn’t happen without careful and strategic library research.”
In the Life and Physical Sciences category, First Prize went to Tiffany Lee, an Eleanor Roosevelt College senior, for her research on the role that syndecan-1 (a heparan sulfate proteoglycan) plays in lipoprotein binding and subsequent uptake in the liver. She was nominated by her mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Esko, a professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, who reflected that her adept use of the UC San Diego Library’s resources has “enhanced Tiffany’s abilities in being efficient and a critical thinker.”
Second Prize in the Life and Physical Sciences category was awarded to Nelish Ardeshna, a second year student at Revelle College who graduated with distinction in June 2015. Nelish’s research explored the newly recognized condition of electrohypersensitivity (EHS). His research investigated the underlying biological mechanisms of EHS, including its possible link to oxidative stress detoxification. Nelish conducted his research at Dr. Beatrice Golomb’s lab at the School of Medicine, who commented, “My appreciation of the value—and scope—of library tools, and the range of settings in which they can profitably be used, has grown through Nelish’s project.”
First Prize in the Social Sciences/Arts/Humanities category went to Nhat-Dang Do, a fourth year student at Earl Warren College, with a double major in Political Science and History. Dang’s research for his honors thesis focused on the emergence of martial law in Palestine, and the effects of British colonialism in the region. His research garnered the Department of History’s Rapaport Prize for best undergraduate thesis. His advisor, Associate Professor Michael Provence, notes that Dang “mastered the relevant historical material of a complicated historical puzzle” by having “read countless contemporary memoirs, news articles, and hundreds of archival documents to understand and recreate the atmosphere of acute political crisis that enveloped British decision making in the Middle East during the 1930s.”
The Second Prize for Social Sciences/Arts/Humanities was awarded to Shayla Wilson, a fourth year student at Warren College who was nominated by Sociology Professor Christena Turner. Wilson designed and conducted a comparative cross-national analysis of laws and legal practices related to violence against women in three countries: India, Japan, and the United States. A goal of her comparative analysis was to look at the role of law in the perpetuation and prevention of violence against women. It shed light on some of the many reasons why women often do not report sexual assault, and demonstrated the ways the legal process re-victimizes survivors. Turner noted that “persuasively making this kind of sociological argument required Shayla to become a mature researcher able to combine insights from multiple data sets, legal codes, case studies, and secondary sources.”
To be considered for the Undergraduate Library Research Prize, students must be nominated by faculty members and must participate in either the annual UC San Diego Undergraduate Research Conference held in the spring, or in other university programs that foster and recognize student research and scholarship. The Undergraduate Research Conference is one of three major undergraduate scholarly meetings that the Office of Student Affairs Academic Enrichment Program coordinates each year that afford students from all academic disciplines the opportunity to present findings of research conducted under the guidance of UC San Diego faculty members.
According to David Artis, director of Academic Research Programs and Dean of Undergraduate Research Initiatives in the Office of Student Affairs, more than 200 UC San Diego undergraduates reported their research findings at the University’s 2015 conference this year, including the Library Undergraduate Research Prize winners. Artic noted, “We are seeing a dramatic increase in interest in all our undergraduate research programs. The achievements of these particular students and the recognition the Prize conveys upon them will encourage even more students to look for ways to get involved in hands-on research and, with the Library’s resources, make meaningful contributions to the generation of new knowledge at UC San Diego.”