USC Libraries Award Prizes to Top Student Papers

Posted by Tyson Gaskill

Papers on pre-World War II relations between Germany and the US, the urgent need for bilingual medical assistance in America, and short travelogue films about India from the 1940s–1950s were among the winners at this year’s fourth-annual USC Libraries Research Award.

A reception honoring the student winners took place in Doheny Memorial Library’s Friends Lecture Hall, on Friday, April 14, 2017. This year’s Research Award recognized exceptional student papers completed at USC in a for-credit class or through independent study during the 2016 calendar year. Submitters may use either primary source materials held by the university’s Special Collections or the reference and research resources of the USC Libraries.

Taking first prize in the graduate category was Darshana Mini for “The Great Indian Road Trip: Constructing the Picturesque Colony in 1940s and 1950s Travelogue Films.” Mini utilized the USC Warner Bros. Archives to examine how popular media in the West was using outdated notions to portray a rapidly modernizing postwar India as an exotic and mystical land. Since the films themselves were no longer extant, Mini reconstructed their content “through the reading of scripts, production papers, digests, memos, interdepartmental communication, music rights, transference documents, photographs, and distribution agreements.”

Two students tied for first prize in the undergraduate category. At a mid-semester research seminar hosted by university librarians, José Alaras learned how to search Spanish-language databases to find the resources he needed for his paper “La frontera lingüística de los inmigrantes en el sector de salud.” Brittney Kidwell relied on a combination of online databases and the 13,000-volume Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collection in Doheny Library to research “Portrait of the German-American Economic Relationship from 1933–1945.”

Tying for second prize in the category were Roberto Nazario, who learned about the wide variety of relevant primary resources held at USC in researching “The Work and Struggles of Jewish Physicists and Mathematicians in Nazi Germany” and Rebecca Teper, who pored through the libraries’ online collection of academic papers from peer-reviewed journals to write “Analyzing the Effects of Political Preferences and Negative Advertising on Voting Decisions.”

Separate juries scored the undergraduate and graduate papers. The former group was composed of Sean Nye, Assistant Professor for Practice in Musicology; last year’s Research Award-winner Emily Hodgkins; Melanee Vicedo, Head, Education and Social Work Library Services; and Andrew Justice, Head, Music Library. A special jury consisting of Liana Stepanyan and Maria Mercedes Fages Agudo in the Dornsife Department of Spanish and Portuguese read Spanish-language submissions. Kristin Diehl, Associate Professor of Marketing; Helga Haraldsson, Head, Business and Accounting Libraries; and Sue Luftschein, Head, Special Collections, read the graduate papers.

The awards, which began as a Dean’s Challenge Grant, are now partially funded courtesy ProQuest and Adam Matthew Primary Sources for Teaching and Research.

Photo credit: Rachelle Balinas Smith