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Meet Rachel Anderson and Amanda Johnson, winners of the Collins Memorial Library Research Practices Award! The award recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate exemplary skill and creativity in the application of library and information resources to original research and scholarship.


2016 Winners

Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences: Rachel Anderson  [RachelAnderson_Form Submission]
Project Title:
Seen through steam: Narratives of Victorian Steam Technology
Faculty Advisor:
Amy Fisher

According to the judges:
We nominate Rachel Anderson as the 2016 winner of the Research Practices Award in the humanities and social sciences. Ms. Anderson's summer research project, "Seen through Steam: Narratives of Victorian Steam Technology," uses the lens of values to interpret the complex oscillations in attitudes toward steam technology both during the Victorian era and in modern times. She locates proximity to suffering as one of the key mechanisms through which society has modulated its views of steam technology. Throughout this project, Ms. Anderson demonstrated important characteristics of the successful researcher: curiosity, persistence, open-mindedness, and a willingness to ask questions of faculty and librarians when she encountered stumbling blocks. As her research progressed, she revisited her primary, secondary and tertiary sources and adjusted the scope and framework of her project accordingly. Her presentation at the Symposium was exceptionally creative and did a masterful job of communicating how the many threads of her research led to her argument about proximity to suffering as a measure of technological optimism or pessimism. Ms. Anderson's final sentence in her application points directly to continuing questions of social justice: "This begs the very relevant modern question surrounding the implications of continued industrialization and mechanization: what suffering is unseen today?" Like all outstanding research projects, Ms. Anderson's work opens the door to continued exploration.


Science: Amanda Johnson  [AmandaJohnson_Form Submission]
Using feather to determine temporal trends in PBDE levels in seabirds
Faculty Advisor:
Peter Hodum and Megan Gessel

According to the judges:
Amanda’s work investigating chemical contaminants in the feathers of seabirds is an important part of understanding the ways in which persistent organic pollutants, such as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs (a chemical often used as a flame retardant), have permeated our ecosystem over time. Amanda’s work is building upon previous scholarship that relied upon blood or organ tissue to investigate contaminants in seabirds. By working with these analytical methods to examine feathers, Amanda’s work may provide the key to conducting less invasive, longitudinal studies of indicator species and their levels of contamination by persistent organic pollutants. In her application, Amanda described her persistence in tracking down relevant scholarly literature. Because her approach is relatively novel, there was a scarcity of literature, and the judges were impressed by Amanda’s thorough approach to searching across multiple databases to ensure a comprehensive search. Amanda also made use of other useful research tools, such as the citation management software Zotero, to stay organized and on top of her research.