Announcing the winners of the UIC Library English 161 Research Awards

Students enrolled in English 161 (Academic Writing II) confront the considerable challenge of developing an inquiry, and gathering and weaving together a range of resources to generate complex, engaging and impactful research papers, often for the first time in their academic careers. They may embark on this process with minimal exposure to library research tools and academic research materials. UIC librarians partner with the First-Year Writing Program to ensure that students receive timely and effective information literacy instruction as they pursue their research.

As champions and guides of student research, librarians celebrate the accomplishments of students in this course through the UIC Library English 161 Research Awards, initiated in fall of 2020. These awards recognize excellence in student research that demonstrates best practices in finding, evaluating and synthesizing sources to develop creative and impactful work. Furthermore, the award calls upon students to describe their research trajectory, reflecting on their process, discoveries and learning experience.

A panel of librarian judges evaluate the entries, judging both the quality of the research paper and the research process essay. All entries were outstanding. The winners are:

First Place - Zane Licena, nominated by Daniel Barton
Neuroscience, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
It’s Not Easy Being Green: Sustainable Development and Environmental Gentrification in Marginalized Urban Communities

In his nomination, English 161 instructor Daniel Barton wrote, “In this paper, Zane takes on a complex and nuanced subject and not only does he demonstrate thorough research and analysis, he also presents a well thought out argument that engages directly with the challenges faced by Chicago communities such as Little Village. He brings complex ideas and concepts from his readings of scholarly articles to bear on real-world examples from Little Village in Chicago to the 606 and its impact on gentrification in Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods. His paper is an impressive example of a 161 essay in which he goes above and beyond the expectations of the course.”

2nd Place - Preaksha Garg, nominated by Jacob Boyd
Neuroscience, pre-med, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Neighborhood Segregation and COVID-19

Jacob Boyd wrote of Preaksha’s research paper, “Preaksha's subject is both timely and incredibly important. She manages to approach a complex issue--the disproportionate rates of African American COVID-19 deaths--by honing in on the link between neighborhood segregation and the underlying conditions that cause vulnerability to COVID-19. Despite what could easily have become an overwhelming subject, her essay is clearly organized and thoroughly defended.”

3rd Place - Shaiva Dhani, nominated by Todd Sherfinski
Biological Sciences, pre-med, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Uses of Insects in Medicine

Todd Sherfinski was especially impressed by Shaiva’s “use of research to complicate and develop a conversation that could easily lead to general and predictable results.” He also noted “the clarity and attention to detail” included in Shaiva’s paper.

All nominated students wrote excellent research papers, making the process of selecting three papers for the award an extremely complicated and competitive one. Nominated students include:

Hiba Abumunshar, Saba Ali, Eliza Apavalaiei, Ishika Ashta, Halley Bergen, Erin Boyle, Luka Filipac, Kyle Lowenthal, Ben Manugas, Tim O'Laughlin, Madison Piekarz, Adrienne Rose, Kevin Salinas, Thomas Say, William Singleton, Melodie Slaughter, and Jonas Szum

Congratulations to them all!

The UIC Library will continue the English 161 Research Awards in spring 2021, this time allowing students to self-nominate their work in addition to seeking nominations from English 161 Instructors. We look forward to highlighting the inspiring research and writing achievements of our talented, creative and diverse undergraduates!

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