Announcing the 2020 Undergraduate Research Awards

Ten undergraduate students are recognized for high achievement in scholarly research and writing

Ten University of Oregon students have been announced winners in the 2020 Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) competition for their excellent research papers and theses. The Undergraduate Research Awards is an annual program sponsored by the University of Oregon Libraries that serves to recognize and honor undergraduate students for their extensive research and authorship while using the UO Libraries’ resources.

“UO Libraries is very proud to honor the outstanding scholarship of UO students,” said Interim Dean of Libraries Mark Watson. “Winning an Undergraduate Research Award represents a high level of academic achievement demonstrated by the completion of a research project that involves the substantive use of library materials.”

Winners in the multi-term thesis category are Cameron R. Davis, studying Communication Disorders and Sciences; Eleanor Hart Williams, studying Environmental Studies; Nelson A. Perez-Catalan, studying Biology; Miriam Thielman, studying Spanish and Religious Studies; Cheyenne Dakota Collins, studying Anthropology; Jordan Kalani Harden, studying English; Siena Polk, studying International Studies; and Eleanor Rochester, studying General Science.

Winners in the single term paper category are Gracia Dodds, studying Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Taylor Griggs, studying Media Studies.

In order to qualify for the URA competition, students must submit one of the following: single term papers and projects from a 300 level or above course, theses, or multi-term papers and projects. The paper or project must be produced in spring 2019 through spring 2020, and applicants are required to secure a recommendation from their course instructor, thesis advisor, or project advisor. Also required is a personal essay detailing the student's use of library resources and growth as a scholar.

Applications are reviewed annually by the Awards Committee, comprised of UO librarians and faculty members. Winners receive awards of $1,000 - $1,500 in the form of scholarship for currently enrolled students, or a cash reward for recent graduates.

Access to the winners’ scholarly work will be available electronically in Scholars’ Bank, the library’s digital archive for UO research and publications.

The Research Award is funded by the Milton C. and Barbara B. Sparks and Jon and Lisa Stine endowments, as well as gifts from Walter and Gretchen Barger.

2020 Winners in Multi-Term Thesis Category


Cheyenne Dakota Collins
Major: Anthropology
Faculty Sponsor: Jeanne McLaughlin, Anthropology
Preliminary Decomposition Study in the Willamette Valley of Oregon: A Multi-method Comparison and Sharp Force Trauma Effects

“The library staff was absolutely exceptional throughout the entire process. Whenever I had an issue accessing a document or finding a source, they were always ready and willing to help. Without the resources provided by the UO library, this project would likely never have occurred. The research process required to complete this thesis led to enormous growth on my part. The literature review process not only allowed me to understand the state of current research within my desired career field, but it also prepared me for a graduate program focusing in this field."

Cameron R. Davis
Major: Communication Disorders and Sciences
Faculty Sponsor: Samantha Shune, Communication Disorders and Sciences
Post-stroke Dysphagia's Impact on Survivors and Spousal Caregivers: The Importance of Perceptual Congruence

“I quickly realized that having a large bank of scholarly articles saved was immeasurably helpful. It allowed me to look for research to fill the gaps in my literature review. This stage of my research also helped me decide which theoretical frameworks to include as part of my data analysis . . . Seeing this large project through to completion developed my sense of self-efficacy and my motivation to complete projects in the future . . . Completing this thesis project showed me the joys and challenges of academic research."

Jordan Kalani Harden
Major: English
Faculty Sponsor: Kirby Brown, English
Understanding Native Hawaiian Land Relations Through Kanaka Maoli Literature

“The idea of a “thesis” seemed so scary, like such an enormous task. But the act of research never felt burdensome, which was perhaps one of the most significant surprises of my education. As I was developing my work, I continually found sources that inspired me to add new sections to my thesis."

Nelson A. Perez-Catalan
Major: Biology
Faculty Sponsor: Chris Doe, Biology
Jack-of-all-trades, The Role of Astrocytes in Circuit Formation and Plasticity

“I am certain that these academic skills learned through my scholarly training at the UO will again prove beneficial when pursuing new questions during graduate school, and in the process of finding my academic niche. I look forward to keep pursuing the path of neural development while maintaining my commitment towards question-driven curiosity."


Siena Polk
Major: International Studies
Faculty Sponsor: Galen Martin, International Studies
Fossil Foodscapes: Examining the United States' Carbon Diet

“Through this pursuit, I have become more capable and confident in myself as a student and feel certain that I will carry these tools with me into the future.... I have been thinking about writing my senior thesis since my freshman year, but it was not until meeting with a librarian that the process truly began . . . While I certainly learned a lot in terms of how to conduct research through working on my thesis, the process also allowed me to learn more about myself and grow as a student. Of all the lessons learned throughout this process, the most important was discovering the value of collaboration…Ultimately, the privilege of accessing knowledge has never been more clear to me. I am profoundly grateful for the resources and assistance available through the library.”


Eleanor Rochester
Major: General Science
Faculty Sponsor: Melissa Graboyes, Clark Honors College
“I Don’t Have Deaths on My Conscience”: Impacts of a Peer-delivered Naloxone Program on a Community of Intravenous Drug Users in Eugene, Oregon

“This project pushed me as a scholar in many ways. But perhaps the most lasting impact of this process has been that it pushed me to think of myself as a researcher. While challenging, it was ultimately empowering to hold my own work to the same standard as published research in my field. Since graduation, I have adapted my thesis and submitted it for publication. Without the resources of the library, this would not have been possible."


Miriam Thielman
Major: Spanish and Religious Studies
Faculty Sponsor: Deborah A. Green, Religious Studies
"You Shall Not Oppress a Resident Alien": The Conception of Immigrants in the Hebrew Bible

“I utilized the library’s document delivery service during my time abroad, and I was able to download and read PDF copies of articles and book chapters....I owe a great debt to the librarians at the Knight Library for sending me scan after scan of commentaries and book chapters that I otherwise would not have been able to access, as I worked remotely due to the quarantine during the final phase of writing and revision. I am much obliged to Barbara Jenkins, research librarian and specialist in Religious Studies at the Knight Library, for helping me to find sources when I had difficulties doing so. I am also indebted to the other indefatigable librarians of the Knight Library . . . ”


Eleanor Hart Williams
Major: Environmental Studies
Faculty Sponsor: Mark Carey, Environmental Studies
Miscarriages of Justice: Examining Environmental Reproductive Injustices Within Native American Communities

“The UO Libraries have supported me throughout my entire undergraduate career but I never appreciated them as much as when I was writing my thesis. The years of helpful insight on how to form a search query or find appropriate peer-reviewed articles came to a head in those last few months. Additionally, they provided quiet spaces away from the rest of campus to focus, find the physical books I needed, and even hold telephone interviews for my thesis. The pressure and stress of creating and defending a thesis was the most defining moment for me as a scholar and a person. I learned my limits, strengths, resiliency, and tenacity through a seemingly condensed period of time that resulted in a thesis I am truly proud of and consider one of my greatest achievements."

2020 Winners in Single-term Paper Category


Gracia Dodds
Major: Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS)
Faculty Sponsor: Judith Raiskin, Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies
She's Straight But She's a Dyke: Sexuality Discourse on the Lesbian Lands

“All of my research came from the library; I drew from the archives and oral interviews from women involved in the lesbian-feminist scene in Oregon. Before this course, I had rarely checked out a book from the library. However, this goldmine of research pushed me to understand the value of collecting and organizing archival research. The library and staff have been integral in my research process and provided the inspiration to continue this project. I have found queer history entangled into my family history, my hometown history, and my own history. I am grateful to have the opportunity to use the library’s resources extensively, and I look forward to continuing my time immersed in archival research.”

Taylor Griggs
Major: Media Studies
Faculty Sponsor: Gretchen Soderlund, SOJC Media Studies
Mickey Mouse and Multiculturalism: Disney’s Global Capitalism

“I was able to be creative with my own thinking because I had evidence of other academics being creative with theirs . . . Doing this kind of research and writing can be draining, especially when you’re new to it, but for those inclined to like it, time spent in the library is precious. I was privileged to be able to spend this time analyzing my own thought processes in comparison to the wealth of information I was able to access, and I was lucky enough to have a lot of fun doing it."