Brandeis Library Awards Research Excellence Prize Winners for 2021

To recognize students who apply exemplary library research skills, Brandeis Library awards Research Excellence Prizes and has selected the 2021 prize winners from a pool of outstanding student submissions. In 2021, the Library established a new award for student research that contributes to understandings of racism and anti-racism, and Brianna Lackwood's paper is recognized in this area. 

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

  • Brianna LackwoodPrize for research which contributes to understandings of racism and anti-racism: Brianna Lackwood, Imagining Black Food Justice Through a Black Femme Literary Hermeneutic 
    • "Brianna’s research is excellent and steeped in a Black feminist activist approach to improving the lives of minoritarian communities. I urge the committee to give her application the utmost consideration." - Shoniqua Roach, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Rafael AbrahamsPrize for graduate student research: Rafael Abrahams, “Intimate With the Stars and the Trees”: Black Conservationism in the Progressive Era
    • “During a pandemic that closed all archives, Rafi developed a project, research question, and research agenda that made excellent use of a wide range of digitized primary sources available through the Brandeis library collections. He went above and beyond in pulling together these materials and pursuing leads. He also met with me every week for the entire fall semester. The result is an outstanding paper." - Michael Willrich, Leff Families Professor of History
  • Logan ShanksPrize for research which makes use of materials in the Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections: Logan Shanks, The Quest for Black Social Mobility and the Role of Black Women Leadership 
    • "Logan submitted her final research paper, "The Quest for Black Social Mobility and the Role of Black Women's Leadership," for Introduction to African and African American Studies. Although only in her first year at Brandeis, Logan immediately distinguished herself as a deeply engaged and brilliant student amidst a strong cohort of 45 students, who were all taking the course virtually. Despite the challenges of the on-line learning environment, Logan emerged as an intellectual powerhouse who combines a thirst for knowledge of the global Black experience with a deep commitment to being a scholar-activist. Her decision to focus her research paper on Mary McCleod Bethune, the revered African American educator and civil rights activist, brought together Logan's interest in understanding the intersection between education, civil rights activism, and the raced and gendered politics of Black women's activism in particular. Her point of departure for the paper was Bethune's portrait taken by Carl Van Vechten in 1949, which is housed in Brandeis's Carl Van Vechten photographic archive. She then consulted an impressive array of additional primary and secondary sources as she analyzed how Bethune rose from humble origins to become an advocate for educating Black girls in the southern United States. Bethune understood the need to center Black girls and women in the struggle for racial liberation and uplift in the post-slavery period. She also knew that in order to be an effective spokesperson on behalf of Black girls and women that she had to present herself in ways that would give her legitimacy in they eyes of both Black and white communities. Logan's paper deftly analyzes how Bethune navigated these twinned processes. It is a model of stellar research that expands our understanding of the history of Black women's political activism in the U.S. I very much hope that the committee will find her paper merits a Library Research Award." - Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harry Coplan Chair of Social Sciences
  • Luca RaabePrize for research which makes use of materials in the Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections: Lucca Raabe, “Rational” Racism: How the Math Department at Brandeis Functions to Reproduce Racial Inequality 
    • In Fall, 2020, during my Sociology of Education course, students were prompted to write an essay evaluating how one institutional mechanism at Brandeis reproduces racial inequality. They were asked to utilize various in-class resources as well as extensive research beyond the sources provided. Lucca Raabe demonstrated creativity in her research process, even evaluating the Brandeis University website itself to substantiate her claims. Additionally, she worked with the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, finding surprisingly little data on the demographic breakdown of majors and minors in the Mathematics department. More notably, she used the communication process as research itself, commenting on the lack of attention the University has historically given to racial equality within mathematics. She worked with the University archives, examining recorded University bulletins to determine whether the University has offered classes in the Department which satisfied University core requirements that addressed racial and educational equality. Additionally, Lucca looked through The Justice archives for student testimony regarding individual experiences in the Math Department to triangulate her data, and strengthen her analysis. Lucca’s work demonstrates excellence through her use of various sources, a clear synthesis of data and a creative application of theory to ultimately demonstrate how limited attention to the racial composition of the Mathematics department contributes to racial inequality at Brandeis University.” - Derron Wallace, Assistant Professor of Education and Sociology
  • Logan ShanksPrize for research conducted in a University Writing Seminar: Logan Shanks, "Us had the kind of love couldn’t be improved": An Exploration of Black Relationships in The Color Purple
    • "I think that Logan has done very strong and sophisticated work in this essay. I particularly admire her capacity to make multiples sources speak to each other in relevant ways--she does a masterful job intertwining hip hop lyrics, with the novel, with theoretical and sociological sources, and thereby makes a conceptually complex argument that is deeply grounded by an insightful reading of her primary text The Color Purple. Not only has Logan produced original and well researched work, I know that she has informally mentored other students in our class, and I believe that she has helped other students grow as writers and researchers." - Ryan Hitchcock, PhD candidate, English
  • Roshini RayPrize for research conducted in a University Writing Seminar: Roshni Ray, Women’s Interpersonal Friendships: Grassroots to Impactful Feminist Movements
    • "Roshni is a dedicated student who takes research very seriously. She has a unique perspective and thinks deeply about the subjects that she engages with. Though she has immense talent, she continually seeks to acquire then master any skills that will make her a better researcher. Likewise, during the drafting process, she is never satisfied with a "good" draft but always strives to turn it into something great, incorporating all of her research. Her work ethic, curiosity, and research skills make her the perfect candidate for a Research Excellence Prize." - Carey Slaeker, Lecturer in University Writing
  • Jocelyn GouldPrize for research conducted by an undergraduate outside of UWS: Jocelyn Gould, A ‘Pandemic Effect’? Women’s Candidate Emergence Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
    • "Jocelyn's thesis was outstanding. Not only was it grounded in the literature that she was investigating, but it was methodologically sophisticated. She used the library resources extensively for this thesis - particularly for her quantitative analysis. She sought feedback from Margarita Corral and benefited from the skills workshops that the library offers. And, I'll take this opportunity to say thank you to the entire library team for the many ways in which you teach and support students in their use of and analysis of evidence."  - Jill Greenlee, Associate Professor of Politics
  • Caroline GreaneyPrize for a digital research project: Caroline Greaney, The Palantír Project: Exploring Tolkien Criticism Through Distant Reading, 1970–Present
    • "Just brilliant. Caroline had never used digital "distant reading" before taking this course, nor had she ever engaged in a serious way with the uses of technology for humanities research. That makes it even more remarkable that she produced such a fantastic project. She used the DH tools in an exemplary way. Rather than use them as a gimmick, she integrated the technical tools with her knowledge, intuition, and research agenda in her field of English literature. She discovered things about the history of Tolkein scholarship that would have been impossible to know without her analysis. The finished product was also a beautiful website, which makes her research available to other scholar. Really wonderful work, which I recommend for the award without reservation." - Alex Kaye, Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Assistant Professor of Israel Studies