UC Berkeley Library

Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

Content section: 

Congratulations to the 2016 Winners of the Library Prize

Lower Division

Upper Division

Upper Division Honorable Mention

Cameron Silverberg The Dragon, the Lion, and the Ballot Box: Evaluating China’s Impact on Democracy in Africa
Professor Amy Gurowitz and Professor Leonardo Arriola
Political Science H195

Glenn Richardson’s essay “Betrayal in Brussels: The Conference that Changed International Science” is the result of an intellectual journey that began in the Bancroft Library reviewing the letters and notebooks of EO Lawrence, but soon left Lawrence behind. As he focused his topic, Glenn discovered the pivotal 1853 International Maritime Conference in Brussels. The more he dug, the more he saw it as a catalyst for the professionalization of science as it is today. Glenn explains his insight this way, “As I read the primary sources, I started to understand why the conference was important. However, when I turned to the secondary sources, I found that I did not fully agree with any of them. What a wonderful thing this was! I could enter this newly discovered conversation with my own thoughts and opinions.” Professor Rodolfo John Alaniz told us, “the scope and analysis of the scope and analysis of the secondary sources is particularly impressive… beyond the scope of a freshman paper.”

Tiange Wang’s paper, “The Interior-Exterior Unification in Chinese Literati Residences: A Tool for Upholding the Literati Identity,” explores the significance of garden and home design to the governing elites in Chinese feudal society. Tiange worried that the scarcity of remaining wooden architecture from this period would make her research impossible. But by creative use of visual art and poetry resources from EAL, the Berkeley Art Museum and library databases she successfully demonstrated the spiritual and symbolic drives behind the Chinese literati dwellings. Professor Andrew Shanken notes, “Tiange’s research reflects her intellectual agility and sophistication…. She went well beyond the comforts of the Environmental Design Library, seeking sources all over the university….it is a subtle form of architectural history, made even more so through the translation of Chinese concepts of space.”

James Bradley began research on his senior thesis “The Union Ruptured: Mechanization, Modernization, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union” at Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Library where he “learned of ‘Mechanization and Modernization’ Agreements, signed by the union in 1960 and 1966, which were almost universally admired by observers.” Using the Bancroft Library’s oral histories to discern disagreements between union leaders and members, he ultimately delved into the ILWU’s San Francisco archives to find newspaper clippings that revealed previously disregarded member opposition to the first contract. According to his professor Robin Einhorn, “James went in thinking he was going to be writing about the containerization of ports, but he actually uncovered a much more interesting story about management demands to change work rules…..I suppose the best illustration of his creativity and flexibility .. is that he made the historian’s classic move: go in expecting your sources to say one thing and find that some of the main issues in them are things you’d never thought of before”…

In her senior thesis, “Becoming Atlantic: A Spatial History from Seventeenth-Century Martha’s Vineyard,” Charlotte Sanger Hull argues that early Martha’s Vineyard was neither clearly part of Massachusetts Bay Colony or Plymouth Colony, nor did it fall under the influence of New Netherlands/New York. After plumbing the resources of Doe Library and relying on inter-library loan, Charlotte traveled to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and local courthouses to examine 17th century genealogical records and land deeds, which in turn led to research at Boston University, Harvard, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the State Archives. Professor Waldo Martin notes, “Most impressive …. was her use of digital mapping techniques and resources, a variety of databases and an inventive array of secondary as well as primary materials. This is an extraordinarily well-research essay.” Professor Mark Peterson explains, Charlotte “used the material culture of the island, from land transactions to forms of payment and exchange brought from afar, to show how its commercial connections ranged far beyond the imperial powers that aimed to control it.”

Marvin Morris’s honors thesis, “First in Flight: A Comprehensive Study of Etruscan Winged ‘Demons’,” successfully argues that winged “demons” found in Etruscan funerary art were a product of native mythology stretching back to the 7th century BCE and not iconography adapted from Greek sources, as previously believed. Professor Lisa Pieraccini points out that, “UC Berkeley has a formidable collection of books on the Etruscans and Marvin is a wonderful example of how they are being used… Marvin searched for visuals of artifacts that were extremely difficult to find – one even in a rare Hungarian publication --- and found (them). His research is highly unique and innovative…. and could become his focus of study in graduate school.”

Elizabeth Ford Rainey uses her thesis, entitled “The Education of Joan Didion,” to expand our understanding of Joan Didion’s formative years as a UC Berkeley female undergraduate in the 1950’s and the influence they had on her subsequent writing career. The Bancroft Library’s collection of Didion letters and manuscripts included letters to one of Didion’s classmates who Ms. Rainey later interviewed. She also relied on special issues of the Daily Californian edited by Didion found on microform in Doe Library, and returned to the Bancroft Library to find Didion’s first-ever published short story. Professor Scott Saul emphasizes that, “In my 13 years at Berkeley….. none of my undergraduates has capitalized on Berkeley library resources as assiduously as Libby Rainey has in her pioneering work…”

Cameron Silverberg’s honors thesis, entitled “The Dragon, the Lion, and the Ballot Box: Evaluating China’s Impact on Democracy in Africa” explores assumptions about the impact of Chinese investment on the democratization of key African states. Through extensive use of primary and secondary sources available through library databases, and supported by political science and data librarians, he was able to bolster his thesis using quantitative statistical analysis. Professor Amy Gurowitz notes, “(Cameron’s) multiple regression analyses reveal that there is no statistically significant relationship between Chinese engagement and democratic decline on the (African) continent…. (It) is extremely well researched.

The Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research attracts the very best lower- and upper-division undergraduate papers from courses taught in departments across the campus.

It recognizes excellence in undergraduate research projects that show evidence of:

  • Significant inquiry using the library, its resources, and collections
  • Learning about the research and information-gathering process itself.
Prize Amount $750 lower-division
$1,000 upper-division
Number of Prizes Up to six annually
Applications Accepted Dec 2016 - April 2017

Recognition for the Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.