Undergraduate Research Awards

April 11, 2017

Two undergraduate library research awards will be presented by Raina Bloom of College Library at the Undergraduate Symposium at Union South on Thursday, April 13. This year’s award recipients are Meredith Braza for her research on infants, trust, and social categories, and Samuel Gee for his research on psychology and mysticism in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The $500 Undergraduate Library Research Awards were developed to recognize the aspects of the research process that involve the 40+ libraries on the UW-Madison campus. They celebrate students’ exceptional work in campus libraries and the thorough, thoughtful, and creative engagement students make with print materials, online resources, and library staff. This year, the committee received many excellent applications from Symposium students. The Undergraduate Library Research Awards Committee assessed all of the applications using a rubric based on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education.

Meredith worked with faculty mentor Associate Professor Kristin Shutts of the Psychology Department on a project entitled, “How Social Categories Affect Infants’ Trust and Preferences.” The library portion of Meredith’s research involved a wide range of UW Libraries resources, including subject databases in psychology, medicine, and the social sciences and humanities. Meredith impressed us with her description of her development as a researcher and her use of advanced skills, including bibliography mining and in-depth source evaluation. Professor Shutts wrote this about Meredith’s research: “I think it is perhaps the strongest first draft of an original research project proposal that I have ever received from an undergraduate. She advanced clear questions and hypotheses and also did an admirable job describing methods for testing her hypotheses.”

Samuel Gee worked with faculty mentor Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, Associate Professor of History, on a project entitled, “Scientific Salvation: Mystical Experience and the American Psychology of Religion, 1880-1930.” Samuel had to be flexible and clever in his library research, as there is little literature available on this engaging topic. Noteworthy in Samuel’s research process were his use of online resources in psychology and religion and his grant-funded trip to Harvard University to work with the William James Papers housed there. In her statement of faculty support, Professor Ratner-Rosenhagen wrote that Samuel’s thesis is “sophisticated, interesting, and very timely” and she recommended him to us “with her highest endorsement.”

Librarians on the review committee this year include Raina Bloom and Kelli Hughes from College Library, Lia Vellardita from Ebling Library, Jessica Newman from Steenbock Library, Lisa Wettleson from Special Collections, and Troy Reeves from the University Archives.

Meredith Braza, Raina Bloom, and Samuel Gee at the Undergraduate Symposium, April 13, 2017