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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Six students win inaugural library undergraduate research prize


Only six out of 29 applicants received the prize

On May 24, six students were presented with the inaugural Norma J. Lang Prize for Undergraduate Information Research. This prize is given to students whose academic research projects make extensive use of library resources.

The 29 applicants were selected by a panel of library experts and faculty. The first prize awards $1,000, the second prize awards $750 and the third prize awards $500.

In the arts, humanities and social sciences category, Brian Wright, a third-year history and English major, received first prize; Funke Aderonmu, a fourth-year international relations and economics major, received second prize and Harley Wong, a fourth-year art history major, received third prize.

In the science, engineering and math category, Elizabeth Chan, a fourth-year biological sciences major, received first prize; Arianna Stokes, a fourth-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major, received second prize and Brooke Robinson, a fourth-year biological sciences major, received third prize.

The Lang Prize is supported by an estate gift of late UC Davis professor emerita of botany Norma Lang, who taught at the university for almost 30 years.

“The library chose to use part of her donation to honor her legacy by creating an endowment for the prize, which means that funding will be available for the library to award this undergraduate research prize every year in perpetuity,” said Beth Callahan, the Lang Prize chair and the UC Davis Library head of research services, via email.

The prize is in commemoration of Lang’s dedication to her students and appreciation of the research process.

“As Andy Lang, Professor Lang’s nephew and trustee, who worked closely with the library to determine how Professor Lang’s gift would be allocated, said, ‘We wanted the funds to be the right balance between supporting students and supporting research – that felt true to who she was and what she valued,’” Callahan said via email.

According to Callahan, the Lang Prize is a huge opportunity for the undergraduate recipients. Besides recognition as prize winners, this year’s recipients told the Lang Prize team that the prize money will help them with graduate school application fees, publication fees associated with getting their papers published and study abroad costs.

Chan mainly used the library’s databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Web of Science, OED, Scopusin and borrowed books for her term paper “All Because of a Cup of Qahwah.”

“I feel very honored to be a recipient of the Lang Prize, especially as a 1st place winner in Science, Engineering, and Math,” Chan said via email. “This prize means a lot to me, as it showed me the importance of undergraduate research, along with the resources undergraduates have at their disposal to carry out their research.”

Aderonmu won second place for her honors thesis titled “A Conflict of Interests: Revisiting Development Assistance Committee Members’ Tied Aid Policy Post 2001.”

“I am very grateful for the support I received from the library as well as my thesis advisors, professors Jeannette Money and Ethan Scheiner from the Political Science department,” Aderonmu said via email. “Lastly, I am thankful to the Lang Family and the selection committee for this prize. It’s not often that undergraduate students receive such a level of recognition for their research and I am truly appreciative of this award and the continuing of Norma J. Lang’s legacy in her passion for students and research.”

Wright utilized the vast amount of books from Shields Library and the exclusive proxy access for online resources and scholarly journals.

“The library’s vast holdings and extensive connections were invaluable for my work, and search databases were intuitive and very accessible for someone so new to the game like myself,” Wright said via email. “I hope to further consult library archivists and specialists in any future research I’m lucky enough to do.”

Wright won first place for his research paper “Southern Whigs, a ‘British Conspiracy,’ and the Annexation of Texas.”

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for scholarly research as an undergraduate,” Wright said via email. “The generosity of the donors and the library has been frankly overwhelming. A prize like this both validates the hard work that I and the fellow winners did and shows that UC Davis and the library seriously value high-level work by undergraduates.”

Callahan believes the Lang prize is important for highlighting the research UC Davis undergraduates are undertaking.

“So often, people associate research with graduate students and faculty,” Callahan said via email. “We believe that the opportunity to do research can also be an important part of the undergraduate experience — and that the research undergrads are doing is just as deserving of recognition.”

Those interested in finding out more about the Lang Prize, how to apply, the winners and their winning papers can go to the library website.


Written by: Yvonne Leong — campus@theaggie.org


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