Every year, undergraduates across all disciplines are encouraged to submit research projects to the University Libraries Undergraduate Research Contest. Their research projects can be traditional research papers, musical compositions, works of art, videos, web pages, or other creative works. The projects are judged by a cross-disciplinary panel of librarians who evaluate the sophistication of their research process and their use of University of Missouri Libraries resources.
One 1st prize $500 scholarship and one 2nd prize $250 scholarship are awarded to an individual or group project. Winners have their projects archived in MOspace, MU’s digital repository.
This year’s winners were recognized at the Friends of the Libraries council meeting on Saturday, April 6. Awards were presented by Rachel Brekhus, Humanities and Social Science Librarian.
1st Prize Winners: Ashley Anstaett, Phong H. Nguyen and Andrew J. Greenwald
Conceptual Design of Microfiber Removal Using Pressure-Swing Filtration
Their engineering paper is so much more than a design blueprint. It is a well-written and well-organized document that includes, not only the physical science involved with an invention, but also practical considerations of how the product could be maintained in real-world environments, how it could be marketed, and why it’s important to have products that remove microfibers from the environment, at the household level.
Their interdisciplinary group project required both library spaces and library resources. They described the Engineering Library’s collaborative space as “preferred” and “work-conducive,” and as providing software necessary for the conceptual design of the invention. The group also described their use of general and specialized online research tools. The process paper was more specific than most in describing how their keyword searching was done, and they identified the specialized e-journal database, Science Direct, which they used, not only for the review of literature, but also during the design process. Their process paper makes clear that in the world of product design, research is iterative and tightly connected with the creative process.
2nd Prize Winner: Erielle Jones
Fly Like an Eagle: The Success of STOP-ERA in the Missouri Senate 1977
In her paper, Jones did an excellent job of linking the rhetoric in Phyllis Schlafley’s Eagle Forum with the rhetoric used in the Missouri State Legislature to argue against passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), including associating passages of the ERA with affirmative action measures, unpopular among Missouri white conservatives.
The process paper detailed, not only Jones’s ultimate choice of primary historical sources, but also her independent exploration of other primary sources in pursuit of an earlier approach to the topic, which did not yield the hoped-for documentation. The paper showed the role of discipline, assistance from library and archives professionals, and serendipity in finding and selecting sources while maintaining focus on a well-defined research question. Sources examined included correspondence, leaflets, newsletters, invitations, and receipts from the personal archives of state representatives, state senate testimony, surveys, news sources, and court transcripts.
Her process showed a commitment to both the importance and the limitations of historical documentation, and understanding of the social and racial context of both the political-opinion media environment, and this media’s impact on the legislative process. Certainly, the practice in popular conservative media of linking proposed legislation not directly related to race, with narratives of governmental interference with default racial distributions of privilege, continues to be relevant today.