2020 UGA Libraries Undergraduate Research Award Recipients Named

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The UGA Libraries Undergraduate Research Award (LURA) recognizes excellence in inquiry and the process of gathering and using information in research. This award is open to any UGA undergraduate student undertaking a research project. Requirements are a meeting with a librarian to develop their information skills and a short essay describing their how their process enriched their final research paper.

Winners are chosen in the divisions of: Seniors, 1st-3rd Year students, and a Jurors’ Choice that recognizes use of a specialized library resource, research method, or other exceptional characteristic of the applicant’s research. More information on the winners and the award process can be found on the LURA website.

First-Third Year Division

First Place      

Emma Bay Dickinson
Landscape and Local Determinants of Non-breeding Bird-Use in Powerlines
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Hall, Ecology
Librarian Mentor: Kelsey Forester

This year’s 1st-3rd Year 1st Place award goes to Emma Bay Dickinson for her essay on her research into the intersection of biodiversity, powerlines, and the habitats of local birds.  Ms. Dickinson availed herself of all of the resources that the UGA Libraries has to offer, from completing an exhaustive literature review of the topic, to utilizing our GIS (Geographical Information Systems) Lab to map powerlines in the locations of her study.  One judge commented that her research work was “advanced,” and another admired the ease with which her essay communicated a complicated topic and multiple processes. 


Ayah Abdelwahab
Is America Failing Its Workers? A US Report Card on Workers’ Rights
Faculty Mentor: Dr. K. Chad Clay, Public and International Affairs
Librarian Mentor: Elizabeth White

One of this year’s 1st-3rd Year Runner-up awards goes to Ayah Abdelwahab for her research into worker’s rights in the United States, and assessing growth measured using UN Human Rights Council criteria. The judges were particularly impressed with her essay and how it demonstrated an advanced understanding of direct and indirect data, and how to both search for and use those types of information.  As one judge commented, her essay was an “Excellent description of her research process and how each type of information gathered was used.” 


Mennah Abdelwahab
The Past, Present, and Future of Human Rights Education
Faculty Mentor: Dr. K. Chad Clay, Public and International Affairs
Librarian Mentor: Elizabeth White

Because of the number and quality of the research in the 1st-3rd year division this year, we added a second runner-up.  This is presented to Mennah Abdelwahab for her essay about her research into the state of Human Rights Education (HRE) in the United States with recommendations to implement universal HRE.   Her essay clearly demonstrated how she became a more sophisticated user of UGA Libraries’ resources, integrating not just research from her field of study, but also expanding into related fields.  According to one judge, her essay is a “good interdisciplinary example” of the research process.  

Senior Division

First Place

Valerie King
An Experiment in Reading: Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Ethical Citation Practices
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bradley Bassler, Philosophy
Librarian Mentor: Emily Luken

First place in the Senior division goes to Valerie King for her work exploring a new way of critical reading, not by close reading of the work itself, but by reading and studying the bibliographical references to reconstruct the author’s argument. To accomplish this research, King used Worldcat and interlibrary loan to obtain the sources that Judith Butler cited in her book over 30 years ago.  As one judge commented, “it was a fascinating and unusual approach” that required in-depth exploration of textual footnotes and cited sources.


Elizabeth Goggin
The Confederate Diaspora: Race, Slavery, and Reconciliation in the Americas
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cassia Roth, History
Librarian Mentor: Jill Severn

Elizabeth Goggin was chosen as a Runner-up in the Senior division for her thesis research that encompassed extensive archival work to study the emigration of former Confederates to Brazil after the Civil War. The judges were impressed by her use of multiple special collections at UGA and at Emory University.  As one judge noted, “Her intense dive into newspapers and archives resulted in a fascinating look at an often-unrecognized link between the United States and Brazil.” 


Ellie McQuaig
How We Begin to Remember: Church, State, and World War II Remembrance in the GDR
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Miranda Pollard, History
Librarian Mentor: Diane Trap

One of this year’s Senior Runner-up awards goes to Ellie McQuaig for her essay about her work researching religion and the German Democratic Republic for her senior thesis.  In her work As one of the judges noted, McQuaig did “impressive work identifying German-language archives” that included contacting archives located in Germany. This far-reaching work to identify collections of German-language documents will be essential for future research on the topic.

Jurors’ Choice

Zainub Ali
Kashmiri Azadi: Forgotten voices in diplomacy
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rusty Brooks
Librarian Mentor: Elizabeth White

The Jurors’ Choice award winner is Zainub Ali for her essay about her research on the complicated and ever-changing administrative situation of the broadly named “Kashmir” region of India and Pakistan.   Ali specifically researched regional political parties active in the area.  The judges were particularly impressed by the breadth and depth of the resources she used, the development of her research topic, and, as a first year student, the sophistication of her essay.  As one judge commented, “This research work could be used as an example to other students.”