Nine students receive University of Notre Dame Library Research Awards

Author: Jenna Mrozinske

Library Research Awards

Nine students have been named winners of the Hesburgh Libraries’ 2021 University of Notre Dame Library Research Award.

This annual award is earned by undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in research skills by using a breadth of library resources and services for their course assignments, research projects and creative endeavors.

“The Hesburgh Libraries is dedicated to the academic and research success of our students, especially as we learned new ways of working together during the pandemic,” said Edward H. Arnold University Librarian Diane Parr Walker. “This year’s winners demonstrated their commitment to excellence as they integrated library resources into their research and coursework during unusually challenging times.” 

Students from every discipline were invited to submit a brief essay describing the many ways in which they used library resources for a project or assignment completed during summer 2020, fall 2020, Winter Session 2020-21 or spring 2021.

Capstone Project or Senior Thesis Award Category

1st Place — Victoria Smith, history and political Science

Victoria Smith won first prize for her extensive use of library resources while conducting research for her honors senior thesis, titled “From Assimilation to Integration: The 20th Century Transformation of Red Cloud Indian School.” Advised by Brian Collier, associate professor of the practice, Smith was tasked with compiling a historiography on her chosen topic, which focused on the educational history of the Pine Ridge Lakota. 

When COVID-19 restricted my physical access to the library and its resources, I met with [American History Librarian] Rachel Bohlmann over Zoom to discuss which databases would be of interest to me, given my interest in Native American educational history,” said Smith. “My discussions with Hesburgh staff members helped me realize that the path to successful research is not always linear and that there were a number of avenues I could take to continue my research at home.”

2nd Place — Emily Yeager, international economics

Emily Yeager’s essay earned second prize for her exceptional use of library resources for her senior thesis, titled “Common Currency Zones and Income Levels: The Effects of the Euro on Spanish Incomes.” Advised by Forrest Spence, assistant teaching professor of economics, Yeager analyzed the economic impact of Spain’s currency transition from the peseta to the euro in 2002. “Exploring the effects of this historical Spanish event gave me the opportunity to utilize the diverse resources of Hesburgh Library in order to create an objective analysis of the relationship between income and common currency,” said Yeager.

Yeager used OneSearch to gain a broad range of perspectives, then narrowed her search using JSTOR and Google Scholar. Inexperienced with locating downloadable data, Yeager said, “I would not have been able to discover my data so quickly without the assistance of Economics Librarian Ben Chiewphasa.” Chiewphasa introduced her to additional search engines, databases and subject-specific library guides. 

Sophomore, Junior or Senior Award Category

1st Place — Brendan McFeely, political science, classics

Sophomore Brendan McFeely won first prize for his effective use of library resources to support his policy memo titled “Foster Kids from Poor Families — Exploring the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.” Advised by Alexander Coccia, adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science, McFeely outlined the assumptions and impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which aimed to prevent foster children from returning to unsafe home environments. 

McFeely found research material by leveraging the library’s physical collection, electronic resources, subscriptions and online catalog. He also used the interlibrary loan service to acquire material held at the Kresge Law Library. “I also benefited from reserving and using the physical resources in the Hesburgh Library for effective communication and workflow,” said McFeely. “Thanks to the digital resources, library catalog and ample space in the Hesburgh Library, I was able to craft an effective policy memo discussing the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. I am so grateful for the extensive resources provided by the Hesburgh Library, and the tireless staff and faculty who help maintain it.”

2nd Place — Emee Marjorie Dy, marketing

Emee Dy, junior, received second prize for her commitment to accessing and using Hesburgh Libraries services and resources to complete her ethnographic essay titled “Filipinos’ View of Marriage: Dynamic Yet a Colonial Remnant.” Advised by Eric Haanstad, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, Dy explored the concept of marriage in the Philippines — its history, how it has changed and its current role in society.

To begin her research, Dy used the online chat feature to consult with a library assistant for guidance on preliminary resources. She conducted an extensive search through the ND Catalog, OneSearch and JSTOR to identify scholarly articles. “I then proceeded to spend countless hours in the library’s Reading Room and the well-loved 10th floor (the view of campus continues to amaze me despite being a junior),” said Dy. “The Hesburgh Library and branch library resources have allowed me to glean insights on marriage in the Philippines. The breadth of the library’s resources and staff provided me with great evidence that resulted in a comprehensive ethnographic essay.”

First Year Student Award Category

1st Place — Daniel O’Brien, Program of Liberal Studies

Daniel O’Brien won first prize for demonstrating his excellent use of library resources to support his research paper, titled “That All Shall Agree: On David Bentley Hart’s Interpretation of Romans 5:18-19” — a specific topic of universalist interpretations of Romans 5:18-19.

After assigning the paper, O’Brien’s adviser, Katie Bugyis, assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, dedicated an entire class period to how to engage with Hesburgh Libraries resources. O’Brien learned how to use OneSearch to locate articles, books and other material. He was also introduced to library guides for theology and religion, along with contact information for subject librarians. “I am not only incredibly grateful to Hesburgh Library for helping me complete this project with a higher level of scholarly engagement, but also for introducing me to the incredible intellectual resources the library has to offer,” he said, “which I will certainly treasure for the rest of my time at Notre Dame.”

2nd Place — Anaum Showkat, neuroscience and behavior, pre-health studies

Anaum Showkat received second prize for her exemplary use of library resources and services while conducting research for her paper “Children Turned Into Brides: A Study of the Prevalence of Child Marriage in Bangladesh.” After Showkat’s project adviser, graduate student Adam Kerker, assigned the paper to her Writing and Rhetoric class, the students were introduced to Africana Studies and Education Librarian Leslie Morgan and East Asian Studies Librarian Hye-jin Juhn

Showkat used databases and advanced search engines to narrow down sources. She learned how to find subject-specific library guides and how to organize her information. Thanks to the helpfulness of the librarians and her newly developed research skills, Showkat said, “I was able to develop a more focused understanding of what is currently happening in Bangladesh, and what steps could be taken to reduce the rate at which young girls are getting married.”

Digital Scholarship Award Category

The Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship (NFCDS) Award is a specialty submission category of the Library Research Award. This award recognizes excellence in leveraging digital scholarship resources, tools and methodologies in research and projects. 

Maria Carroll, computer science

Maria Carroll, senior, received an award for her essay about using the Distant Reader technology platform and contributing to a related NFCDS grant-funded High Performance Computing Consortium project titled “Analyzing and enhancing CORD-19 and additional Coronavirus-related data sets.”

Advised by E-Research Librarian Natalie Meyers, Carroll joined the NFCDS grant team. Hands-on work in team meetings, sprint planning sessions and feature improvement discussions exposed her to aspects of technology development. “I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with this innovative team on such an exciting project,” said Carroll. “I was able to come to a far better understanding of how to work with large datasets to create meaningful user interfaces.” 

Charles Hanzel, economics

Charles Hanzel, senior, received an award for his essay highlighting ways he leveraged digital scholarship resources for his senior thesis, titled “Does Slavery’s Historical Presence Impact Economic Development? Evidence from the Free-Slave State Border.” Advised by Lakshmi Iyer, associate professor of economics, Hanzel studied the long-term economic effects of slavery in the United States.

Hanzel’s use of library resources included an extensive literature review of economic research into the effects of slavery on economic development, both in the United States and around the world. After discovering a gap in the literature, he turned to GIS Librarian Matthew Sisk in the NFCDS to help him conduct further analysis. “The resources I was able to take advantage of through the library were integral to my research project,” Hanzel said. “It is with genuine gratitude that I reflect on the role that the library has played in the development and completion of my senior thesis.”

Tracy Preko, neuroscience and behavior 

Tracy Preko, senior, took honors for her essay submission highlighting her use of library resources to complete her senior thesis, titled “Meta-analysis of Valence Effects in Child and Adolescent Autobiographical Memory.” 

Advised by Kristin Valentino, the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Associate Professor of Psychology, Preko analyzed child and adolescent autobiographical memory. She was able to search specialty databases through the library.

After she screened more than 700 articles, Physical Sciences Librarian Thurston Miller supported Preko with the difficult next steps of extracting data and contacting corresponding authors when more information was required. “I appreciated the one-on-one assistance because it made me feel that the library community was there to support my academic development. With the help of librarians like Mr. Miller, I was able to make critical progress on my thesis,” Preko said.


For more information on the University of Notre Dame Library Research Award or to read more about the 2021 winners, visit


Contact: Monica Moore, scholarly communications librarian,