Winners of the 2021 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Announced

The Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize

Sophia N. Visaggio is the winner of the 2021 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.

Undergraduate Upper-level Winner Photograph
Sophia N. Visaggio, Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Winner in the Undergraduate Upper-level Category

Sophia is a sophomore Occupational Therapy major with a minor in Psychology from Wantagh, New York, who submitted the project “Interventions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” completed in the course OT 250: Scientific Writing and Information Literacy, taught by Dr. Julie Nastasi. Sophia began her research process after information literacy instruction to her class by a librarian, through which she learned techniques for searching within the EBSCO database CINAHL with Full Text, including how to adjust search criteria to meet her research and topical needs. She maintained an electronic file with a chart in which she logged her progress so she could recreate her searches later in the research process, and as an aid in her organization and analysis of sources. She also notes how her increased understanding of her topic will help her in different parts of her life, both professional and personal.

But perhaps most important in Sophia’s work on this project was the change in her disposition toward research; as she shares in her description of research:

“When researching my topic of interventions for ADHD, I felt accomplished when I found an article that was perfect for my paper. I was surprised how a task I once feared now brought me a sense of enjoyment from successfully scouring the database and finding exactly what I needed. … Now being able to retrospectively look back on this once terrifying task, I am proud of my growth in both accessing the library’s databases as well as my analysis and writing skills. What began as a task I dreaded and could not wait to be done with became a journey of researching and writing that I found enjoyable so much so that I did not mind the amount of work I put into perfecting my paper.”

Sponsoring faculty Dr. Julie Nastasi comments on the quality of Sophia’s work and shares, “Sophia conducted a literature review and synthesized the types of interventions used in occupational therapy practice for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Her research is extremely impressive because she has not had clinical practice courses at this point in the curriculum. She identified appropriate interventions and was able to report the findings in literature to use in clinical practice.”

Currently celebrating its 10th year, 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.

Honorable Mention awards in the Undergraduate Upper-level category were presented to Sydney L. Gero, a sophomore Criminal Justice major and Counseling and Human Services minor, for the project, “An Empirical Study on Cybercrime and COVID-19,” completed in CJ 386H: Cybercrime and COVID-19 for Dr. Sinchul Back; and to Jessica Goldschlager, a junior with majors in Neuroscience and Hispanic Studies, for the project, “El trauma histórico y la comunidad latinx,” completed in SPAN 335: Service and the Hispanic Community for Dr. Roxana Curiel.

Amanda Trumpore, Elizabeth DiGiovine, Kayla Brown, and Emily Harvan are the winners of the 2021 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize in the Graduate category.

Graduate Category Prize Winners Photograph
Top Row: Amanda Trumpore, Elizabeth DiGiovine; Bottom Row: Kayla Brown, Emily Harvan; Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Winners in the Graduate Category

Amanda, Elizabeth, Kayla, and Emily are students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, who are from Warren, New Jersey, Shavertown, Pennsylvania, Stockholm, New Jersey, and Cranford, New Jersey, respectively. Together they submitted to the competition the group project “Effects of Music on HR and BP on Patients in the ICU: A Meta-Analysis,” completed in the course sequence PT 771/772/773: Scientific Inquiry in Physical Therapy, taught by Dr. Renée Hakim. This project was a systematic review conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) format. Group members relied on expert instruction by a librarian in search, e.g., how to use MeSH terms in PubMed, and bibliographic management, e.g., collaborative citation organization and analysis using Zotero. They also used the Library’s efficient Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services to successfully conduct their review of 182 studies which were culled down to 18 from which they extracted data “to determine the impact of music on the vital signs of patients in the ICU.”

The group comments on the iterative and collaborative nature of the research process in their description of research when they share:

“Our group learned many lessons throughout this project with the help of both the library and our department faculty. Although we anticipated that the process of conducting a systematic review would be straightforward, we discovered that implementing the procedure involves considerable trial and error and team cooperation. We had to change our search terms many times to obtain an appropriate search yield …”

Sponsoring faculty Dr. Renée Hakim commended this project for being accepted for presentation at a national scientific meeting (American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting, February 2021), and notes that “At the start of the project, the students knew very little about the design methodology and library resources. By the end of the project, they completed a quality study which is considered the highest level of evidence (OCEBM [Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine]),” and that “This application of information literacy will be applied by these students as life-long learners to maintain best practice as future health care professionals.”

Jonathan R. Wells is the winner of the 2021 Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize in the Undergraduate Foundational category, which is awarded to the winning project completed in a 100-level course.

Undergraduate Foundational Winner Photograph
Jonathan R. Wells, Bonnie W. Oldham Library Research Prize Winner in the Undergraduate Foundational Category

Jonathan is a first-year Biology major from Long Valley, New Jersey, who submitted to the competition the project “The Surprising Reality of Middle Eastern Tourism,” completed in Prof. Charles Kratz’s WRTG 107: Composition course. He investigated his topic in both the Library’s resources, primarily in the EBSCOhost database Academic Search Elite and the ProQuest Central database, and in credible web sources such as the Jordan Investment Commission ( He also developed the structure of his paper in response to the information he found in the databases about his topic, shaping his subsequent searches based on the new things he learned about his topic along the way.

In his description of research, Jonathan offers a metaphor for the research process that illustrates his developed understanding of research when he shares:

“Through an evolving research process, I developed a greater understanding of the process of gathering information. An analogy I like to use is that research is synonymous to mining. You have a target ore that you would like to find; however, in the process of trying to find that ore, you will come across other valuable types of rocks. My research process relates to this idea, because when I was researching my topic, I started out with target ideas, and ended up with other valuable information that helped me create a strong informative essay. This allowed me to understand the importance of starting with broad searches, and narrowing down on more specific subtopics.”

Sponsoring faculty Prof. Charles Kratz comments on Jonathan’s project and shares, “Jonathan did excellent work in defining a clear research process using Weinberg Library resources. The strength of his work came in how he revised his research process along the way. His topic and the information gathering process became very important to him. He especially enjoyed the new sense of discovery the research process provided him.”

An Honorable Mention award in the Undergraduate Foundational category was presented to Charles C. Sylvester, a first-year Environmental Science major with a minor in Classical Languages, for the project “The Age of the Electric Vehicle has Come,” completed in WRTG 107: Composition for Prof. Dawn D’Aries Zera.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on campus operations, in lieu of an in-person awards reception prize winners received their awards in May.

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

Congratulations to all of our honorees!