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UCLA Library announces winners of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

From left: Stephanie Dyar, Sohaib Baig, Ethan Scapellati, Hannah Spero, Lee Jasperse and Annie Chen were recipients of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, which is awarded to students whose research takes particular advantage of library resources.

By Nikki Somani

May 10, 2012 1:12 a.m.

Correction: The original version of this article contained an error. Kelly Miller is the head of the College Library.

After weeks of searching through a research database, requesting books from different libraries and sifting through a scientific journal from the 1980s, Annie Chen finally completed her research submission ““ the effect of infrasound on the human auditory system.

For her efforts, she was named Wednesday as one of the winners of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.

This is the fourth year UCLA has awarded the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, which honors student research that takes particular advantage of library resources, said Kelly Miller, director of teaching and learning services and the head of the College Library.

Chen and her fellow winners received cash prizes from $350 to $650. Prizes were awarded for best paper from first- and second-year students, top three papers from third- and fourth-year students, best research using UCLA special collections and best research using library resources related to Los Angeles.

Prize-winners were not limited to research in any particular discipline. This year, papers covered topics from the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

For example, Hannah Spero, a second-year international development studies student, wrote a paper that examined the high rates of typhoid in India and Pakistan.

“There are a lot of available resources for someone interested in doing science research (at UCLA), as opposed to only historical or literal studies,” said Chen, a fourth-year neuroscience student.

Each submission included a final research paper, a reflective essay that explained the research process and an endorsement from a faculty member.

“We received a great number of really strong, wonderful papers, and it was a very difficult decision,” Miller said.

The Library Prize for Undergraduate Research is endowed by Ruth Simon, an alumna and former campus counsel at UCLA. Her lifelong fondness of libraries and books inspired her to work with the administration to create the prize, Simon said.

Students were encouraged to utilize resources from all libraries on campus, including the Young Research Library, the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library and the Southern Regional Library Facility. UCLA is ranked in the top 10 for research libraries in North America.

The undergraduate research competition is in part designed to encourage students to explore library resources, giving them access to a much richer world than a Google search, Miller said.

“These students are using the part of libraries that electronics can’t replicate,” Simon said. “Even if you could read a document on the Internet, it’s not the same as touching it, seeing the little marks on it or turning it from back to front.”

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Nikki Somani
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