UC Berkeley Library

2004 Prize Winners - Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

Content section: 
Susan Basu Political Economy of Industrial Societies H195
Andrew Braver History 7B
Michael Jacob Molecular & Cell Biology H196B
Gary Ku Architecture 170A
Sara Ryu History of Art H195
Radha Webley Peace & Conflict Studies H195

Susan Basu
"The Politics of Foreign Student Exhange: U.S. and Eastern Europe, 1952-1962"
Political Economy of Industrial Societies H195
Lecturer Patricia Y.C.E Lin

For her senior honors thesis in Political Economy of Industrial Societies, Susan Basu conducted astoundingly deep research into "The Politics of Foreign Student Exhange: U.S. and Eastern Europe, 1952-1962." Starting with the Birge papers in Bancroft, she expanded her research out to several other archival collections through site visits, digital collections, interlibrary loans and even Freedom of Information Act requests. She found this research to be inspiring. She writes:

"Beginning this project, I had not known the thrill of historical research; originally, history had only entailed the memorization of names and dates…. My experience has inspired me to do more archival research after I graduate…"

In support of this "highly original and ground-breaking" thesis, Lecturer Lin adds:

"…Susan was hooked on research. Each week she would come to my office hours excitedly telling me about her recent find, the connections she had made, and where she intended to search next…. Thanks to her thesis, Susan has become an individual with an unending thirst for research. To put it bluntly, she has caught the 'research bug.'"

Andrew Braver
"Wilson's Words: The Rhetoric of Progressive Ideology"
History 7B
Professor Leon Litwack/GSI Kevin Adams

Andrew Braver wrote his History 7B paper on "Wilson's Words: The Rhetoric of Progressive Ideology." While conducting his preliminary research, he came up with an interesting approach to his assignment. In his research essay, he explains:

"The second phase of my research was marked by the realization that one way to understand Wilson was to closely analyze a particular quote, using his other writings as supporting evidence."

As his research continued, he reached a critical conclusion regarding his own perspective:

"Because languages change over time, I needed to find an English usage guide from his era. I discussed various possibilities for this source with the librarian at the reference desk."

GSI Adams observes:

"Andrew imaginatively employs traditional printed sources - the kind many undergraduates skim or ignore entirely - to convincingly argue for a reinterpretation of Wilson's rhetoric…. By exhaustively sampling other remarks by Wilson, Andrew added depth and credibility to a paper that might have simply stopped with the analysis of one speech. The written result … speaks eloquently to his ability to synthesize a wide array of sources…"

Michael Jacob
"Endogenous Psychoactive Tryptamines Reconsidered"
Molecular & Cell Biology H196B
Lecturer David Presti

Molecular & Cell Biology senior Michael Jacob wrote about "Endogenous Psychoactive Tryptamines Reconsidered" for his honors thesis. In his research essay, Michael displays a remarkable understanding of scientific disciplines. He notes that:

"Today, scientific disciplines have become increasingly narrow in order to tackle the cost and technological sophistication of modern science…. Furthermore, the compartmentalization of disciplines requires scientific researchers to bridge connections between fields. Quite often, the intersection of seemingly distinct scientific concepts leads to significant advances…"

Taking this into consideration, Michael designed his research methodology. He writes:

"Future research can advance … from the capacity of investigators to assimilate previous discoveries and find potential connections not elucidated explicitly from laboratory experimentation.... As an enzyme for catalyzing these connections, library resources served as my scientific laboratory where experiments were played out in journal collections and hundreds of PubMed searches."

His advisor, Lecturer David Presti supports this interesting approach:

"Michael's paper is a novel scientific theory developed solely through the use of library materials, suggesting that future scientific research can benefit from this type of approach…. He was able to pull together multiple results, refine arguments and hypotheses published by others, and put forth a novel and original hypotheses…. Michael's new ideas … will form the basis for a variety of future scientific experimental work."

Gary Ku
"The People and Purpose of Trajan's Markets"
Architecture 170A
Professor Stephen Tobriner/GSI Vimalin Rujivacharakul

In the fall, sophomore Gary Ku completed an Architecture 170A essay on "The People and Purpose of Trajan's Markets" that evolved from broad interests developed in previous semesters. He discusses this evolution in his research essay:

"The exceptional breadth of the library was instrumental in narrowing my general interests down into a specific proposal. I went to the Environmental Design Library and found entire books devoted to specific works of Imperial Rome as well as broader books discussing Greek and Roman architecture."

As he read through these books, his research questions began to develop. He continues:

"I found myself becoming interested in the idea of 'public' space and social class, and I soon realized Trajan's Markets would be a good vehicle for exploring the relation of these aspects to architecture…. It soon became obvious that I would need to perform a much more in-depth investigation of both the context and the physical structure of Trajan's Markets in order to produce a worthy essay…. I needed to understand how Imperial Roman society worked in order to write about how Trajan's Markets worked."

GSI Rujivacharakul remarks on this aspect as well:

"Mr. Ku's unusual depth of library research allowed him to discuss the historiographical context of Trajan's Market from several disciplinary perspectives and to cover relevant subjects from the Roman construction history to the socioeconomic history of the Roman Empire…. With such insightful discussion and comprehensive analyses, Mr. Ku's paper sheds new light on the field."

Sara Ryu
"Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer: Modes of Beholding and Experiencing the Domestic Boundary"
History of Art H195
Professor Elizabeth Honig (Mellon Library/Faculty Fellow)

Sara Ryu completed her senior honors thesis in the History of Art on "Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer: Modes of Beholding and Experiencing the Domestic Boundary." In her research essay, she emphasizes the need to turn a critical eye toward not only the artwork but also the scholarly sources. She writes:

"After reading the opinions of other modern scholars, I was unsatisfied by their findings and I realized that I needed to find the answers from primary sources myself…. Successful research entails striking a delicate balance between strict methodology and random discovery, between critical analysis and individual argumentation, and finally between detailed inquiries and overarching frameworks."

Her advisor, Professor Honig, remarks on her self-sufficiency:

"I have never had a student who seemed so naturally to possess the logic of research. Sara always seems to know what direction her inquiries need to go in and what materials will help her get to where she wants to go."

Radha Webley
"The Politics of Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda"
Peace & Conflict Studies H195
Lecturer Patricia Y.C.E Lin

Radha Webley has cultivated an interest in Rwanda throughout her undergraduate career. Her senior honors thesis in Peace & Conflict Studies, on "The Politics of Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda," is the culmination of this interest. In her research essay, she writes:

"…My previous library research gave me the tools to effectively conduct fieldwork on the topic of reconciliation in Rwanda, and also gave me the means to evaluate my primary research findings…. I quickly learned which authors I could trust and why. I learned to look for biases in academic writing, in my interviews, and in other primary sources."

Her advisor, Lecturer Lin, observes:

"She used a wide range of primary sources…" which she analyzed "in combination with existing secondary literature and theory…. It was through this primary and secondary literature that she was first able to discern the existence of the problem that the monopoly of Rwandan-government discourse had on the process of reconciliation…. At the highest level, she has shown how the strengths of the UC Berkeley library resources, print and electronic, can be partnered with original field research to produce a top notch product."