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Undergraduate Research Awards

April 23, 2020

On April 23, 2020, the Undergraduate Research Award team hosted its first virtual reception and award ceremony. After revising the award process and securing additional funding from the UW-Madison Libraries, the award was relaunched in 2019. Undergraduate students who intended to make creative and intensive use of library resources as part of a semester or year-long research project were encouraged to apply. The committee, made up of Raina Bloom (chair), Kelli Hughes, Jessica Newman, and Carly Sentieri, reviewed twenty-one impressive submissions and were delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the excellent work of this year’s two award winners.

Still from Mariya’s presentation

The first recipient, Mariya Vodyanyk, received $1500 to support her research project, the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Cognition and Overall Well-being in Individuals with and Without Neurodegenerative Disorders. Mariya intended to test the hypothesis that art-based therapy is a potentially viable route to enhancing cognitive function as well as general well-being of older adults (both with and without neurodegenerative disorders). This research overlaps with her neurobiology major and her art studio certificate minor (with its emphasis in painting and drawing). Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of restricting access to the residents of assisted-living facilities, Mariya was unable to complete her study. She did, however, meet with several library staff over the course of her preliminary research including Ellen Jacks (Grants), Anna Simon (Art), Mary Hitchcock (Health Sciences), and Barb Sisolak (SEL). In her acceptance speech, she acknowledged how helpful it was to work with research experts and discovering subject-specific databases such as ARTstor. She reports, “This award definitely got me where I would have not been without it. Before I was just doing all of my research on Google and hoping that something would come up … but now every time when I start to do my research, I always go to the UW Libraries web page where I can look up articles, databases, and journals.”

The recipient of the $2000 award, Olivia Anderson, focused on Refugee Resettlement in the US: Lessons Learned from Minnesota and Maine and in her original application she planned to conduct an historical investigation into the American Refugee System in order to see the possible ramifications it had on women, a highly vulnerable section of the world refugee population. By understanding the history of origins of the U.S. Refugee System, Olivia hoped to critically analyze the potential shortcomings of present-day processes that have real-world consequences for asylum-seekers. After honing her topic further, Olivia ended up concentrating on the phenomena of secondary migration and what policies and practices made places like St. Paul, MN, and Lewiston, ME, so much more appealing to Somali refugees than states such as California and Texas.

Olivia Anderson’s presentation shared via Blackboard Collaborate

Using Prezi, Olivia described both her research and her experience with the award process during the virtual reception and ceremony. She thanked her mentors and advisors, Prof. Gay Seidman in the Sociology Department, Lori DiPrete Brown from the Global Health Institute in the School of Human Ecology, and Susan Nelson in the Gender & Women’s Studies, along with the librarians she consulted, including Karla Strand (GWS), Tom Durkin (Social Science), and Troy Reeves (Oral History). She acknowledged that while the financial support meant she didn’t have to find a second job on campus, allowing more time for research, she really appreciated the “monthly guidance that kept me on track and motivated.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2020-2021 undergraduate research award. For more information and to apply, please visit the website.