2013 Honorable Mentions

Christian Duran

Lost in Trans-Nation: Unearthing Chicano Identity in Daniel Venegas’s Las Aventuras de Don Chipote o Cuando Los Pericos Mamen

Alexandra Polasko

What’s in Your Water?

Daniel Wikey

Man as Magician, Man as Machine: Narrative, Wonder, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Lie Detection

Jolene Xie

Reciprocity at the Elizabethan Court: The Earl of Leicester and Private Gifts in a Political Arena


Christian Duran
Lost in Trans-Nation: Unearthing Chicano Identity in Daniel Venegas’s "Las Aventuras de Don Chipote o Cuando Los Pericos Mamen"
English H195
Professor Scott Saul

Duran’s investigation into the biography and identity of author Daniel Venegas is an object lesson in the value of tenacity in research. Before Duran started digging, little was known about Venegas’s personal life. Duran retrieved personal documents from a genealogical resource, scoured contemporary newspapers for references to the author, uncovered issues of a rare publication within Bancroft Library, and found resources to provide historical context to his investigation. What he uncovered allowed him to interpret the author’s novel in a new light and his finished thesis, according to Professor Saul, “will be a significant contribution to Chicano Studies and American literary history.”

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Alexandra Polasko
What’s in Your Water?
Civil Engineering 199
Professor Lisa Alvarez-Cohen

Polasko’s independent study in Civil Engineering examines the bacterium Dehalococcoides and ways to enhance and maintain its biodegradation of the harmful chemical compound trichloroethene (TCE) in drinking water. In her letter of support, Professor Alvarez-Cohen praises Polasko’s research into water contamination, noting her proficiency navigating the library system, and her ability to identify and obtain “an extensive source of information in a wide variety of media sources that contributed to a well-written, comprehensive paper. In fact,” she says, Polasko’s “skill for identifying and acquiring high quality, relevant publications is the most impressive I’ve ever encountered in a second year undergraduate student.” Polasko’s research required searching across academic journals from multiple disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, and biology. She gracefully articulates her engaged and varied research process, noting that “even though the evidence for my thesis did mainly come from those types of sources, the support for my passion about this topic came from the anthropologists, the philosophers, the authors, the lawyers, the economists, the councilmen, and the government.”

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Daniel Wikey
Man as Magician, Man as Machine: Narrative, Wonder, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Lie Detection
Anthropology H195B
Professor Cori Hayden

Wikey’s Anthropology Honors thesis offers an interdisciplinary examination of the development of lie detection in America. In her letter of support, Professor Hayden praises Wikey for his “superb use of UCB collections on early 20th century American religion, feminist and critical race theory, the folklore archives, and the history of science and technology.” Based on that research, Hayden says, Wikey “makes a number of original contributions to histories of the lie detector test, particularly through his attention to the place of American Spiritualism therein.” Wikey’s bibliography attests to the wide range of resources -- books, articles, archival materials, and digitized primary sources – that informed his intriguing study.

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Jolene Xie
Reciprocity at the Elizabethan Court: The Earl of Leicester and Private Gifts in a Political Arena
History of Art H195
Professor Elizabeth A. Honig

This independent study in the History of Art investigates the struggle for representation and autonomy at the Elizabethan court. Xie made extensive use of the Library’s online and print resources, accessing multiple databases, digitized primary source collections, online art databases, manuscript collections, the print collections of the Gardner Stacks, and the Art History Library, as well as resources from other libraries. Professor Honig says that what makes “Xie’s thesis stand out as a piece of exemplary research is that she has balanced so well between primary, secondary historical, and theoretical sources. She read printed primary sources (and online documentary sources) very carefully; she found data and critical interpretations from art historians, historians, and literary scholars; and she reconsidered all of them in the light of modern (and historical) theories of gifting.” In her reflective essay, Xie does an excellent job of articulating the value of iterative research and the importance of reaching beyond her primary discipline for sources.

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