Brandeis Library Awards Research Excellence Prize Winners for 2023

The Brandeis Library's Research Excellence Prize recognizes students who apply sophisticated information literacy skills to the selection, evaluation and synthesis of sources for a research project. The 2023 winners were selected from a pool of outstanding student submissions in eight categories, including a new category and collaboration with the Samuels ‘63 Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT) for community engaged research.

Community-engaged research, offered in partnership with the Samuels ’63 Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT): Elizabeth Simms, Rafael Abrahams, Joseph Weisberg, Wayland Library: 175 Years

“By undertaking this project, we learned a lot about the unique challenges and rewards of public history, and came to approach research in new and exciting ways. Collaborating with WFPL allowed us to get to know people we would have never met otherwise. We were able to research history through private collections of documents, personal photographs, and oral recollections, and to build relationships with people who were simultaneously subjects and stakeholders of our work . This project helped us understand how individual people understand their role in the history of their community and why history matters to individuals in their everyday lives.” - Quote from students’ process essay

A group of students and facultyLeft to right: Elizabeth Simms, Rafael Abrahams, Dr. Robert Gross, MJ Wright (Wayland Free Public Library librarian), and Joseph Weisberg.



Research related to racism and anti-racism: Fritz-Gerald Duverglas, The Discrimination of Black People in The Tech Industry

A student headshot.

“He not only compiles statistics and surveys. He also scoured court documents. He conducted oral interviews. He shows with precision and care the kind of efforts that have been fruitful and those that have been negligent in addressing racism in the tech industry.”- Abigail Cooper. Assistant Professor in History.

 You can find Fritz-Gerald Duverglas's project on ScholarWorks.

Climate change-related research: Armen Youssoufian, Dalen Weathersby, Dante Culmone-Durso,  Ellie Greene, Fijare Plous, Temperate Forest - How Water-Related Climate Variables Impact Temperate Species & Habitats

A student headshot.A student photoA student photo

 Left to right: Armen Youssoufian,  Ellie Greene, and Fijare Plous




“These students collaborated on an oral presentation for Biol39. Each year in this course students first create an oral presentation on their own that focuses on how climate change impacts a specific species. These are recorded online and students give peer feedback and then create a final version of their individual presentation. After this, they then work together to plan a group presentation that brings together all of the ideas in the individual presentations. Well, let me tell you - this group this year - hit it out of the park! They brought it all together, reworked their individual slides, created an excellent narrative that brought together the relevant (and only the relevant) parts of their individual presentations. It was amazing. The research was well-cited, made use of the primary literature, and the slides were credited and formatted wonderfully."- Colleen Hitchcock, Associate Professor of Ecology

Research completed in a University Writing Seminar (UWS): 

  • Grace Danqing Yang, Cognitive Dissonance, Social Psychology, and Unit 731

"Grace has produced a lovely, analytically powerful argument in her UWS research paper. Her use of sources is extremely impressive, and it has been lovely watching her build such a nuanced argument. While relying on a diversity of sources, including biological, psychological, and historical perspectives, she has also brought much of her own analysis to the paper. The result is persuasive, powerful, and motivated."- Elissa Jacobs. Senior Lecturer in University Writing.

You can find Grace Danqing Yang's project on ScholarWorks.

Student photo
  • Allison Gentry, The American Imagination and the Space Age: How Pop Culture Took Man to the Moon

“This research project has truly helped me understand what resources are available to me as well as how to conduct the research process itself. Before this semester, I would have struggled to find peer-reviewed or credible sources. Now I believe that my first step will always be to use OneSearch to find materials in the library and beyond. It has also helped me learn how to organize my research so that I can better support my argument and plan out my paper with resources such as Zotero. I truly enjoyed the research process of this project and I will walk away from it with a better understanding of how to conduct college-level research and writing.”- Quote from student’s process essay


Student photo
  • Marianna Tsolias, Summer of Love: An Examination of Overambitious Solutions to Societal Injustices

“My approach to completing research largely shifted following this project. I reallocated my time to searching for strong, validated sources that reflected objectivity and provided strong evidence to support my claim. I recognized the importance of outlining and organizing my thoughts in great detail to help provide a cohesive, well-structured argument. Ultimately, this project emphasized the importance of finding credible sources, taking thorough notes on all sources, outlining my essay structure in detail, and being open to redrafting. Throughout this process, I discovered how integral drafting, redrafting, and refining is in the research and writing process. I hope to continue to apply and build upon these skills as I engage in future research and writing projects.”- Quote from student’s process essay

Research paper or project completed by an undergraduate student outside of UWS:  Aiko Schinasi, Examining The Role of Education Non-Profits In Addressing Gaps In Federal Education Programs: A Look into The Education Non-Profit, SuitUp Inc.

Student photo

“These findings from the library have enabled me to navigate the research process independently. Still, I plan to learn more from the vast expertise that Aimee, Margarita, and all of the other librarians possess. I’m most excited to use these skills in my internship this summer, where I’ll be researching advertisements and media strategies at TikTok. I’ll show what a Brandeis student is capable of.”- Quote from student’s process essay

 You can find Aiko Schinasi's project on ScholarWorks.


Research paper or project completed by a graduate student:

Lydia Mathews Photo
  • Lydia Matthews, "They are bound for the milk station down the way:" Maternal Health, Infant Care, and Italian Women’s Claims to Belonging in 20th-Century Boston

“By pivoting and leaning into the resources I could find, I was much more satisfied with my final product; in the past, I would have wasted time pursuing these dead-ends, and my writing would have suffered as a result. By not getting too attached to any one source or line of inquiry, I found fascinating information in archival materials that I may not have otherwise and was able to dedicate sufficient time to fully analyzing each resource.”- Quote from student’s process essay

You can find Lydia Matthews's project on ScholarWorks


Nhi Le Photo
  • Nhi Le, Ăn cơm chưa?: Thinking With Rice and Embodying Vietnamese American Acts of Relatedness

“In bringing together diverse forms of knowledge such as the messy construction of rice paper, black feminist scholarship, and personal memories from her childhood such as learning to cook, eat, and serve rice, Nhi’s paper challenges us all to think more expansively about how we seek to understand and represent our relational identities. Indeed, if we were to take artistic embodied and reflexive practices of making as foundational to our ethnographic methodologies, how might that offer an enriched, more holistic understanding of the human condition? Ultimately, exploring this question is at the heart of Nhi’s project. In closing, Nhi’s paper offers a vital contribution to the field of anthropology and humanistic inquiry more generally. "- Emily Ibrahim, Lecturer in Anthropology

Research which makes use of materials in the Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections: Lila Goldstein, WGS at Brandeis: A Timeline

Lila Goldstein Photo“ I now understand that you don’t have to know exactly how you want a project to look before beginning the research process, as the most effective research projects are built upon questions rather than answers. The direction and tone of my timeline was formulated as I conducted research in the archives, and every box I looked through or document I analyzed brought me closer to understanding what my project would say, as well as why it was important to say it. I didn’t begin my assignment with the intention of creating a chronological timeline, but rather the idea emerged as I grew more interested in how The WGS department has changed over time. I know after completing this assignment that I can always find assistance at the library regardless of what stage I am at in a research project, and that working with the library exposes me to new perspectives and resources that can only enrich any student’s research project.”- Quote from student’s process essay

Digital research project: Elie Ackerman, Vivien Fair, Michaela McCormack, Micah Seigel, Teresa Shi, Brandeis on Native Lands

Group photo of students"Ultimately, we created an excellent website which realizes our original ambition of creating a resource for land acknowledgements, Indigenous history, and links to more resources for further information and action. Brandeis on Native Lands was presented at Brandeis’s 2023 URCC Symposium. After the presentation, professors, students, and administrators stuck around to ask further questions. While we celebrated months of hard work, we realized that the success of this project could not have been achieved without our peers, professor Connolly, and the library and its fantastic staff.”- Quote from student’s process essay

Congratulations to all winners!