University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research

2011 - 2012 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.

Rebecca KrumelTop Prize  $500

Rebecca Krumel

Roots of Flamenco:  An Introduction to Flamenco Music and Culture

Krumel’s project was inspired by a flamenco street performer she saw in Spain while on study abroad.  “It was the most moving dance experience I had ever had, and I wanted to know everything about flamenco dance,” she said. “Through my research, I began to make discoveries that opened up a minefield of information about this rich and complex art form.” Krumel had the opportunity in DANC 310. “In the spring of 2011, Rebecca enrolled in my Dance Analysis and Criticism course, where she embarked on a synthesis project to research, produce and perform a dance reconstruction on Flamenco dance,” wrote Dr. Mila Parrish in her recommendation letter. 

Krumel’s film, book, and journal sources covered dance, music, sociology and history.  To better understand a musical form, the fandango, she attended a guitar performance and spoke with Dr. Berg from the USC School of Music.  Besides her written project Krumel used her research to choreograph and perform a flamenco routine.  In her letter of support, Dr. Parrish wrote, “Her research, choreography, and performance are evidence of the range and caliber of her scholarship.”


Caroline PorterTop Prize $500

Caroline Porter

Clothing Swap:  Cross-Dressing and Gender in Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Writing

Porter’s senior thesis extended research she began for Dr. Katherine Adams’ ENGL 437 seminar. After reading extensively on issues related to cultural identity, authorship, and disguise, Porter’s research focused on representations of cross-dressing in the works of four authors.  Dr. Adams spoke highly of Porter’s research process in her letter of support.  “Her work with Thomas Cooper Library’s article databases was especially important in teaching her how to acquire familiarity with a scholarly conversation, integrate it with her ideas, and contribute to it with her own confident critical voice.”

Porter’s research included visiting a graduate-level feminist theory class to gain a better understanding of Judith Butler’s theories of gender, which are central to her thesis.  When she didn’t find other scholars using Butler’s work in ways directly related to her own project, she located and creatively adapted an article on the relationship between Butler’s theories and disability studies into her argument. 

Porter wrote of tracking down two short stories published in the 1830s  in the magazine Juvenile Miscellany, held on microfilm, “Finding these stories was a huge success, not only because they were an important and interesting part of my chapter, but also because I was  able to examine rare texts that very few people had access to, and that had, as a result, received very little critical attention.”


Sonja BerlingHonorable Mention  $300

Sonja Berling

Discourse Practices in Chilean Cinema:  The Social and Political Functions of Language in Cinema Regarding the 1973 coup d'état in Chile

 Berling’s thesis on collective memory and identity in Chilean cinema combines insights from both visual and linguistic anthropology.    Her research continues an interest in indigenous peoples developed while studying in Chile.  “I learned so much about the politics and
economics of Latin America in the 1960s and 70s that extended beyond and expanded upon what knowledge I gained while studying in Latin America.”

Berling wrote of her work, “I needed to use ample library resources—everything from books, to films, to journals.  I was able to find almost all of my sources from the Thomas Cooper Library.”  Dr. Jennifer Reynolds, Anthropology, was Berling’s thesis advisor.  “I required Sonja to first do some exploratory searches within different literatures to see which area of inquiry would be the most productive for her to follow,” Reynolds wrote in her recommendation letter. “Her next task was to identify and preview appropriate films held within Thomas Cooper Library’s archives. After she had narrowed down her topic and identified a feasible research question, she then conducted an extensive search, tracking down key sources that would enable her to flesh out the historical and socio-political contexts shaping the production, circulation, and recep-tion of the films under study. In fact, she found some primary sources that surprised me and significantly enriched her project.”  Berling noted in her essay, “sources found mid-way through the research process greatly impacted the course of development for the rest of the thesis and modified many of my previous observations.”


University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections