Winners of the 2023 Library Research Awards

Now in their seventeenth year, the Library Research Awards recognize and reward Loyola Marymount University students whose research makes expert and creative use of the services, resources, and collections of the William H. Hannon Library to produce a scholarly or creative work. Each entry includes the research project or paper, an essay explaining how the student conducted their research and used library resources, a bibliography, and a letter of nomination from the faculty member who assigned the initial paper or project.

Library Research Awards are given to both undergraduate and graduate students, in both individual and group categories. Read more about this year’s winners below!

Undergraduate Library Research Awards

Grand Prize

For the 2023 Undergraduate Library Research award, a grand prize of $1,000 was awarded to Iliana “Lia” Chen for her project, “Environmental Science Curriculum for Elementary Students in Bali.” Chen is a junior double major in elementary education and environmental studies, who produced this work for professor Bernadette Musetti’s LBST 4900 “Education and Global Issues” class. After qualitative research interviews with people from the local Balinese community on the need for environmental science education, Chen conducted extensive library research to build an innovative curriculum for elementary students in Bali, utilizing a wide range of resources, including the library’s Education LibGuide, a librarian consultation, LINK+, and EndNote for citations. The selection committee was impressed by Chen’s excellent work in interpreting and synthesizing research to create a five-week environmental science curriculum that is culturally sensitive and grade appropriate, bringing together environmental science, active learning pedagogy, and local knowledge. Her impressive faculty support letter remarked that Chen played a key role in shaping the liberal studies capstone course to focus on building a research-based curriculum that will be taught to Balinese students in the new BALI LMU learning center.

Honorable Mentions

Lucy Durben, a sophomore screenwriting major, won honorable mention and was awarded $450 for her work that combined the disciplines of theatre arts and theology to offer an insightful analysis of the representation of Mary Magdalene. The title of Durben’s project is “Mary Magdalene: The Fragmented Woman” and it was produced for Kevin Wetmore’s THEA 249 “Theatre and/as Theology” course. Her well-written reflection essay demonstrated her excellent research strategies, most notably citation chasing of authors to find relevant sources on the topic, as well as critical evaluation of reliability, applicability, and bias in sources. The selection committee commended that Durben used a variety of research sources, including scholarly journals, popular articles, three primary theatrical sources, and a Vatican publication.

Lindley Saffeir, a senior in environmental studies, won honorably mention and was awarded $450 for her paper, “Politics of the Olive Branch: Environmental Peace-building and the Nexus of Natural Resources, Violent Conflict, and Peace.” This project is notably supported in a joint letter from two faculty members in two disciplines, Jennifer Ramos and Tyler Harlan, who commended the paper with a potential for academic journal publication. Saffeir’s extensive bibliography included numerous scholarly sources demonstrating depth and breadth of the project, building upon existing scholarship to propose a demilitarized framework that prioritizes indigenous land stewardship in environmental peace-building. She produced this project for an independent study course on environmental peace-building.

Graduate Library Research Awards

Grand Prize

For the 2023 Graduate Library Research Award, a grand prize of $1,000 was awarded to Kayla Ray for her project, entitled “The Glorious Magdalene: The Influence of Mary Magdalene on Medieval Women’s Spirituality.” She was nominated by professor Douglas Christie. Ray produced the work for THST 6022. The selection committee felt that her sophisticated research paper employed intertextual analysis that would further scholarly understanding of women’s spiritual experience within medieval Christian faith traditions. Furthermore, it contextualized compelling evidence of the historical and mythical Magdalenes into devotional archetypes that provided particular agency for women. Christie’s strong letter of recommendation emphasized the original contribution of Ray’s research to the field, noting that “the subject (how Mary Magdalene was received within the Christian spiritual tradition) is hardly mainstream.” Christie further noted, “She is actually working on the boundary of two classic disciplines in theology: ‘historical theology’ and ‘the history of Christian spirituality.’ And she shows great skill in honoring the canons of each field, while also extending them in new and exciting directions.”

Honorable Mention

Sara Juarez-Mendoza won honorable mention and was awarded $450 for her project, “The Impact of Special Education Professional Development on New, Intermediate, and Veteran General Education Teachers’ Self-Efficacy Regarding Instructing Students with Disabilities and Implementation of Accommodations,” a well-written, relevant research project that examined a holistic approach to improving knowledge and confidence among an under-served teacher community. Completed for EDES 661 (Master’s Professional Project), Juarez-Mendoza displayed a dexterous analysis and comparison of multiple sources in an in-depth literature review, and demonstrated skillful use of appropriate disciplinary methodologies, including comprehensive attention to ethical practices regarding human subjects. She was nominated by professor Diana M. Limón.

Apply for Next Year’s Awards

Congratulations to our 2023 winners! The awards committees chose these entries because they demonstrated advanced information literacy practices, creative use of library collections and services, and clear evidence of significant learning. These works will be available in our Digital Commons. Remember, Lions: any work completed in spring 2023 is eligible for the 2024 award. So mark your calendars for next year.