University Libraries recognize thesis efforts
“We want to recognize the research done by undergraduates and the hand that the library has in that” said Marilee Birchfield, a librarian at the Thomas Cooper Library.
The award, which is divided into two tracks, is a monetary incentive for students that fosters student research. The tracks are Garnet and Black and are designed for upper- and underclassmen respectively.
This year, Christian “Chris” Buckson, a third-year history and international studies honors student, took the top award for the Garnet Track and a prize of $500. Two honorable mentions were named, and each received an award of $250.
A history term paper assignment on NATO and American Foreign Policy started Buckson’s research. In a letter of support, professor David Snyder described the project as a “tour de force that would have been suitable for a tenured scholar,” and Buckson plans to eventually publish his research in an academic journal.
To complete his research, Buckson used primary resources from the Thomas Cooper Library as well as libraries abroad. With assistance from a Magellan Scholar Award and an Honors College research grant, Buckson was able to utilize sources in Brussels, Belgium, at the Parliamentary Council Archives.
Honorable mention recipient Katharine “Katie” Parham, who graduated in May with degrees in political science and French, was recognized for 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.” Research for the thesis was completed using only resources provided by Thomas Cooper Library.
Parham, who said she applied on a whim after her thesis director encouraged her to, said that even though the event was recent, she still found relevant materials using online databases.
“I did a lot of the research online on my computer in the library,” Parham said. “I received no assistance from the library staff.”
Nicholas “Nick” Williamson also received an honorable mention. The recent civil and environmental engineering graduate, received the award because of an 80-page literature review on traditional and novel materials for overhead transmission line structures that he did for an independent study course.
To be considered for their awards, the students had to complete the research for a credit course at the university within the past academic year and show extensive knowledge and skill in researching and gathering information to create projects in any media, according to a press release.
“Applying really doesn’t take that much effort after [students] have done the research,” Birchfield said.
All applicants submitted an application packet including the application form, an essay describing their research process, a letter of support from a supervising faculty member, a final version of the research project and a list of sources consulted. The packet was reviewed by a panel of USC faculty and libraries on quality of the project, evidence of the applicant’s research process and personal learning.
This year, there were no applicants for the Black Track, which was created two years ago when the library received great research projects from first-year and second-year students who just couldn’t compete with a senior thesis projects, said Birchfield.