University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research

2010 - 2011 Award Winners

Three outstanding submissions garnered prizes in the garnet track for seniors and juniors. Unfortunately no one entered in the black track for freshmen and sophomores.

Christian Buckson - 2011 Winner

Christian Buckson

Top Prize

Pursuing Transatlantic Unity: NATO's Parliamentary Conference

The genesis of Buckson's independent study project was a term paper for Dr. David Snyder's HIST 466 class, American Diplomatic History. Doing research for the paper, Buckson a history and international studies major, kept finding references to an organization within NATO, the Parliamentary Assembly. Few sources addressed the organization in depth.

"To my knowledge, Christian is the first scholar, professional or otherwise, to address the Council in a paper-length research study," wrote history professor David Snyder in his letter of support for Buckson. He also described the project as a "tour de force that would have been suitable for a tenured scholar…"

Because this topic lacked much previous research, Buckson relied heavily on primary resources. He began his study while on campus but, thanks to a Magellan Scholar Award and an Honors College Research Grant, Buckson travelled to Brussels, Belgium, to continue his research at the Parliamentary Council Archives.

"Without access to the library's resources, both here and abroad, I would not have been able to bring my project to its successful conclusion," Buckson said. He plans to continue his research at Thomas Cooper Library to make his paper, "Pursuing Transatlantic Unity: NATO's Parliamentary Conference," ready for publishing in an academic journal.


Katie Parham

Katie Parham

Honorable Mention

The Aftershock:  The Effect of the NGO Influx in Haiti on the State of Reconstruction, Development Agendas, and Public Policy Discourse After the January 2010 Earthquake

Honorable mention recipient Parham is a political science and French major who submitted her   senior Honors College thesis, “The Aftershock: The Effect of the NGO Influx in Haiti on the State of Reconstruction, Development Agendas, and Public Policy Discourse After the January 2010 Earthquake.” Because the topic was so current, she used many news and Internet sources while also researching the historical role of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Haiti. 

In her application essay Parham spoke to the evolving nature of her research topic: :  “. . . the flow of new information was a constant challenge as events continued to transpire.  I relied heavily on both current news sources as well as on archived newspaper articles within library databases for historical comparisons.”

“Katie’s completed project does a fine job of      describing the extraordinary, and extraordinarily complicated, roles/impacts/problems of NGOs in Haiti in the post-disaster setting,” wrote history professor Dan Sabia in his letter of support. “To do so, she relied extensively on the Library’s online article databases, including Academic OneFile, JSTOR, IPSA [International Political Science Abstracts], LexisNexis Academic, World Bank Data, and AccessUN.”     


Nick WillamsonNick Williamson

Honorable Mention

Traditional and Novel Materials for Overhead Transmission Structures

Honorable mention recipient Williamson is a civil and environmental engineering major who submitted an 80-page literature review he put together for a research-based independent study course.  In his application essay Williamson acknowledged that at the undergraduate level engineering typically doesn’t require a lot of library research, but his advisor Dr. Michael Meadows suggested he take Dr. Matta’s ECIV 490. Williamson’s initial reaction to the suggestion was “but I don’t know how to do research.”   After a semester spent using library databases, electronic journals, the catalog and the interlibrary loan service he does now.

Williamson compiled a comprehensive and evaluative review of materials currently being used in electrical overhead transmission line structures and materials in various stages of development that could be more cost-effective.

“Nicholas’ review was made up of well-selected references, ranging from refereed journal papers to high-quality conference papers and technical reports,” wrote civil engineering professor Fabio Matta in his letter of support.


University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections