Undergraduate Research Awards

Applications Due: Friday, March 30, 2017

The Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Awards recognize students producing outstanding research projects such as papers, videos, posters, and blogs that demonstrate information literacy and the effective use of library resources.

A judging committee comprised of faculty, students, staff and librarians will select three winners:

  • First place: $200
  • Second place: $100
  • Emerging researcher award: $50 for work completed by a first or second year student

View the Award Rubric and application information below to understand how submissions are judged.




To be eligible for the Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Award you must:

  • Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate at Westminster College;
  • Have completed the research project under consideration for a credit course or under the direction of a faculty member at Westminster College during either the May/Summer 2017, Fall 2017, or Spring 2018 semester;
  • Agree to allow Giovale Library and Westminster College to use your research project and application materials to promote the Award and undergraduate research conducted at the College.

If you are a first or second year student, you will qualify for the Emerging Researcher Award.


To apply for an award, submit your research project, a complete bibliography, and a 500 – 700 word reflection on your library research experience using the online application form. You will also need to include the name of a faculty sponsor. The faculty sponsor should be the professor who advised the project or taught the class in which the work was completed. Please inform your professor that you are applying for the award. 

In your reflection about your research experience, you may want to address the following questions:

  • Did this project build on a previous paper or ideas from other classes?
  • In what ways did the library and its resources help shape your ideas for your projects?
  • What did you discover about the tools and techniques for research in the library?
  • What did you learn about finding and evaluating information on your topic, or in your discipline?
  • What discoveries did you make in the library by chance or coincidence? And, which through thoroughly planned research strategies?
  • What lessons about the general research process did you take away from the experience?
  • Would you do anything differently because of what you learned from this research process?

Please note that the judges rely heavily on what they learn of your research through this reflection. You will probably need at least a page or so, or a comparable length multimedia project, to conduct a quality reflection.


2017 Award Winners

Emerging Researcher Award


Kirandeep Kaur, for her paper, “The Role of Degrowth in the Fight Against Environmental Injustice”

Faculty Advisor: Abigail Perez Aguilera

I strengthened my research skills while writing this paper, and developed new research skills as well. By using Griffin Search and the other databases provided by Giovale library, I was able to find many sources that I could draw upon in my paper. I learned how to use advanced search tools in order to limit my results to academic writings and scholarly articles. I was able to discover key concepts that were a gap in my knowledge by searching using the related terms that were given to me by the sources I found. I also found that good research requires patience. If I had tried to rush my paper, and only use the first couple of sources that came up in my search results, writing my paper would have been very difficult.

Kira Kaur, Reflective Essay

In this paper, Kira presents a compelling, well documented argument about environmental racism and its connections to oppression of marginalized communities. She offers a well-grounded theoretical discussion of theories of oppression and the possible solutions to massive consumption, environmental depredation and oppression. In her paper, Kira presents innovative discussions, bridging theoretical arguments to applied case studies.

Abigail Perez Aguilera, Faculty recommendation

Second Place Winner


Warren Cook, for his paper, “Considering the Threat to Place: A Case Study of Place-Based Relationships to Water in the Modern American West”

Faculty Advisor: Jeff Nichols

In the past year, I found it most challenging to articulate my research question and refine my theoretical approach. I spent hours in conversation, explaining my approach over and over, rewriting my interview questions, and yet I still had times where I felt lost, where I felt like my research would ultimately be for nothing. My head spun with constant questions about each part of my project: Why did I consider the scientific research on the valley inadequate? Why did Flores’ theory of place address this inadequacy? What benefit are human stories in the fights for water in the West? Why did I spend a month talking to people about water? My hope is that I have addressed all these questions in my paper.

Warren Cook, Reflective Essay

Warren thought up the idea; crafted a sophisticated research plan; read extensively in the secondary literature; conducted a series of careful interviews; wrote it up in a thoughtful, eloquent fashion grounded in the best recent scholarship; and presented it at the Honors summer research forum and the Phi Alpha Theta conference. The written result is a politically engaged work of scholarship: this is a place that Warren cares about, but he grounds his arguments in evidence, not emotional advocacy.

Jeff Nichols, Faculty recommendation

First Place Winner


Tim Lindgren, for his paper, “Ecocide, Genocide and the Failure to Protect Alternative Life-Systems”

Faculty Advisor: Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland

This research process has been extremely insightful, and I believe, has prepared me for future academic undertakings. Primarily, the process illuminated the importance of engaging in interdisciplinary approaches by utilizing a myriad of research methods specific to a multiplicity of applicable fields. Further, it drew attention to the value of an organized and structured research plan coupled with an intellectual ‘fluidity’ and ‘flexibility’ in the process of crafting a research paper. Lastly, it enabled me to more accurately understand the services made available by Giovale Library, something which has taught me the importance of quickly identifying the resources at hand—a lesson which I aim to share with my co-students at Westminster College.

Tim Lindgren, Reflective Essay

Tim’s contributions to many discussions across different fields and disciplines is unparalleled. His critical arguments contribute to shape and transform increasingly important discussions about international law and human rights in relation to environmental, social and global justice. This paper, specifically, makes a very timely contribution. Living as we are in the midst of converging environmental and social crises of displacement, Tim’s contentions in favor of tight linkage between the destruction of ecosystems through the advancement of industrial civilization and the destruction of cultures, peoples, livelihoods and lives is urgent today more than ever. Tim’s paper is sophisticated in every way, engaging with the cutting edge discussions by top scholars in the field, coupled with and supported by rigorous theoretical, empirical, legal, historical, qualitative and critical analysis.

Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland, Faculty recommendation