Winners of the 2020 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Announced

Katherine R. Burke is the winner of the 2020 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize in the Undergraduate Upper-level category, which is awarded to the winning project completed in a 200- to 400-level course.

Kat is a 26-year-old Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania native currently enrolled part-time in the Philosophy program, who submitted the project “Towards an Ethics of Gendered Difference,” completed in the course PHIL 382: Care Ethics in Japanese Film, taught by Prof. George Aulisio. For her research, Kat’s starting point was two primary works on the ethics of care which she read through the lens of gender-expansivity; this process then led her first to the Library’s Philosophy and humanities databases, and then to the Library’s interlibrary loan request platforms through which she was able to track down the key sources cited in the primary works that served as her project’s focus.

Kat learned valuable lessons about research and writing by immersing herself in sources both adjacent and central to the focus of her project; she shares in her description of research,

“…immersing myself in the works of those who had already parsed texts like those I was focusing on shed light on how one can boil down key concepts from a given work and where one’s focus should lie in philosophical texts.” Commenting on the ease of use of our interlibrary loan services, she notes, “Using these services made me really understand that even though research is rigorous and often challenging, the tools we have at our disposal help to make it a much more efficient – and enjoyable – process.”

Sponsoring faculty Prof. George Aulisio observed that Kat “learned the importance of digesting philosophy slowly, re-reading at length the ideas of philosophers until everything is fully comprehended” as well as “the value of carrying on an academic discussion (i.e., Scholarship as Conversation)” and “how much value that adds to one’s own knowledge and knowledge creation.”

The Weinberg Memorial Library inaugurated the prize in 2011 to recognize excellence in research projects that show evidence of significant knowledge of the methods of research and the information gathering process, and use of library resources, tools, and services. In 2017, the prize was named for Professor Emerita Bonnie W. Oldham, who founded the prize at the University in 2011. The Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize was fully endowed in 2019 and consists of a prize of $500 awarded to winning projects in each of the three categories: Undergraduate Foundational (100-level projects), Undergraduate Upper-level (200- to 400-level projects), and Graduate.

An Honorable Mention award in the Undergraduate Upper-level category was presented to Sarah White, a sophomore Biology and Philosophy double major, for the project, “Constrained Women, Authoritarian Men, and Gender-Based Medical Treatments: Unequal Gender Roles and a Tragic Descent into Madness in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wall-paper’,” completed in the course ENLT 265J: The American Literary Experience for Dr. Leonard Gougeon.

Liam Mulvaney is the winner of the 2020 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize in the Graduate category.

Liam is a graduate occupational therapy student from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, who submitted to the competition the project “Historical Analysis: A Century of Progress in Adaptive Equipment,” completed in the course OT 501: Leadership in Occupational Therapy, taught by Dr. Marlene Morgan. For this project, Liam took advantage of the Library’s digital resources, including CINAHL, PubMed, and ProQuest Central, as well as the Library’s physical resources, such as the print books on reserve, microfilm, and various foundational Occupational Therapy journals, in order to research and conduct a historical reflective analysis of adaptive equipment in the field of Occupational Therapy.

He notes that the online library research guide for this course as well as the library staff were especially helpful as he conducted the complex research for this project. In his description of research, he shares that “citation chasing” was the most beneficial advanced research technique he learned and applied in this project, and that he

“became a better student and researcher as a result of the library’s staff and resources.”

Sponsoring faculty Dr. Marlene Morgan commended Liam for his use of patents and illustrations of adaptive equipment in his project, and praised his project by noting that “Systematic reflection of how leadership in OT has successfully created and sustained a meaningful role in the development and use of adaptive equipment in the past will provide us with strategies to face the future.”

Honorable Mention awards in the Graduate category were presented to Melissa Busch, graduate student in the Occupational Therapy program, for the project, “Occupational Therapy in the Hospital,” also completed in the course OT 501: Leadership in Occupational Therapy for Dr. Marlene Morgan; and to group partners Emily Gilinger, Tyler Huggins, Brian Gargiulo, and Joshua Taylor, graduate students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, for their project, “Recreational Activities Impact on Activity and Participation in Persons with Parkinson’s Disease: A Systematic Review,” completed in the course PT 772/773: Scientific Inquiry II/III in Physical Therapy for Dr. Renée Hakim.

Eryn Boken is the winner of the 2020 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize in the Undergraduate Foundational category, which is awarded to the winning project completed in a 100-level course.

Eryn is a sophomore Kinesiology major from Los Angeles, California, who submitted to the competition the project “Coronavirus Concerns for the U.S. Economy,” completed in Prof. Dawn D’Aries Zera’s WRTG 107: Composition course. She primarily used the EBSCOhost database Academic Search Elite and the CREDO Reference search tool to search for information about the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and through this process found that studying the economic impact of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that spread in 2002 was a valuable research strategy for better understanding the current impact of the developing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. She also focused her search strategy as she went, taking keywords from initial articles she found and using them to run subsequent searches in the databases for more information about her project’s focus.

Eryn eloquently captures the research process in her description of research when she shares:

“Looking at where my research first began, how it developed, and the bibliography I ended with, I noticed the journey I had to take throughout the process. I was constantly learning something new each time I entered the database portal and therefore had to adjust the information I wanted to use accordingly. Especially with all the tools the library has to offer us, where you begin the research is certainly not where you will end.”

Sponsoring faculty Prof. Dawn D’Aries Zera says of Eryn that “She seemed to get a lot of joy out of the discovery involved with research — following leads and paths to get answers. This student kept turning over rocks to find more information and wasn’t satisfied with just the first thing that turned up. The thing about this particular issue, too, is that the information was true news, and therefore kept changing — sometimes within the same day!”

Honorable Mention awards in the Undergraduate Foundational category were presented to sophomore Psychology major Brayden Druger for the project “Preliminary Military Health Screenings: Are They Worth It?” completed in WRTG 107: Composition for Prof. Dawn D’Aries Zera; and to first-year Biology major Sydney Youngblood for the project “To Heal or To Kill,” also completed in WRTG 107: Composition for Prof. Dawn D’Aries Zera.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the Spring semester, in lieu of an in-person awards reception prize winners were mailed their awards at the end of May.

Information about the Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize can be found on the website:

Congratulations to all of our honorees!