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2003 Honorable Mentions - Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

Content section: 
Anna Armentrout History 101 Professor Khal Schneider
Christine Bottrell History 101 Professor Kim Friedlander
Mollie Caselli History 7B Professor Charles Postel/GSI Dylan Esson
Colleen Dixon History 101 Professor Jennifer Burns
Jessica Newman Political Science 1 Professor Jack Citrin
Christy Thornton History 101 Professor Mary Elizabeth Berry
Andrew Jia-Yuh Yeh Economics H195 Professor Jonathan Berk

Anna Armentrout is graduating this semester. Her project is titled, "A critical encounter: white experimentation with the images of 'the Indian' in American national parks from 1880-1930."  Anna wrote eloquently about the importance of her research to her personally,

"I feel that my work was not something done simply to fulfill a course requirement, but something that truly provides a unique perspective on an important question: how we, as human beings, have the ability to portray each other through cultural imagery and how powerful that imagery can be. Beyond what I feel was an intellectual accomplishment, my paper also provide personal satisfaction and academic direction. I enjoyed my research enough that I plan on applying to graduate school in history. More specifically, I enjoyed handling and analyzing primary materials in the Bancroft so much that I recently began working there..."

Her advisor, Khal Schneider wrote, "in her imaginative selection of sources she truly distinguished herself…. Ms. Armentrout availed herself of the diverse collections in the Berkeley libraries to select a source base that would allow her to develop the cultural history she wished to tell."

To complete the research for her paper, "Gulf War syndrome: the detrimental consequences of social influences on veterans' health," Christine Bottrell had to use materials in the Public Health Library, the Biosciences Library, Doe Library, and a variety of electronic databases. Her research essay describes the complexity and rewards of this process,

"Overall, the multiple tools of the library led me from the title of a memoir to my entire history thesis. I started off with basic ideas about using Pathfinder and PubMed, but I found that one discovery led to another, and I ended up accessing both whole libraries and sections of them that I previously had no knowledge of. I learned that starting a research project from scratch can be extremely daunting, especially when the topic encompasses multiple disciplines and consequently many different types of documents. After enough sources in both number and variety are scrutinized, the answer to the research problem can come to exist apart from the details and along with the bigger picture of the relevance of the topic. Thus in the end I found it very satisfying to tie together ... an assortment of ...sources to make more sense of a complicated problem."

Professor Friedlander observed,

"Part of the originality of her research product lies in the wide range of sources she has brought together… Many students would have stopped there but Christine recognized early on that she would need to look at the problem from several different angles. Her research strategy was notable in that she was able to build on her original sources with a kind of flexibility and insight that surprised me. Her exceptional ability to select and evaluate her starting sources … continued to inform her research."

Mollie Caselli learned that doing outstanding research can require a certain amount of travel.  

To write her paper, "An unforgettable garden," on the creation and preservation of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, Mollie used, in addition to the Bancroft Library, the Doe, Moffitt, and Environmental Design libraries on campus, as well as the Sutro Library, the History Center at SFPL, the Horticultural Library and the California Academy of Science's library in Golden Gate Park. She had to read books, articles, microfilm, Parks Commission records, newsclippings, and more. Nevertheless, she wrote,

"Although some information I found did little to help my specific investigation, every piece gave me a better background on both my topic, and my own San Francisco history. I am interested in doing further research on my topic and have discovered I enjoy the trial and errors of researching."

Her instructor, Dylan Jim Esson observed, in his letter of support,

"The physical and mental explorations that Mollie has undertaken in researching the Tea Garden reflect a dedication to education well beyond the course's expectation. It is clear that Mollie has a desire to seek out the answers to difficult questions, and that she will, no doubt, continue to seek original explanations for challenging topics in the future."

Colleen Dixon's History 101 project, "The Segregationists' Failure: an analysis of Birmingham's White Citizens' Councils, 1954-1964," took her beyond Berkeley's extensive collections to the archive of the Birmingham Public Library in Alabama. Colleen was already an experienced library user before she undertook this project, yet she wrote in her essay,

"Fortuitous discoveries were the most enjoyable aspect of my extensive research. Finding the extensive collections in Birmingham happened after exploring the library indexes and abstracts. I located a master thesis analyzing newspaper reaction to Brown [v. Board of Education] and in turn found a link to the Birmingham Library web site. Also, Doe Library's temporary offer of the New York Times collection on Proquest facilitated my primary source research. "

As a result of her experience, Colleen intends to "pursue a Ph.D. in history because of the joy in examining primary documents and arguing a position."

Colleen's thesis advisor, Jennifer Burns called the thesis,"a superlative example of original research based on primary sources. Colleen proved over the course of the semester that she was up to the formidable challenge of synthesizing this vast amount of material into a convincing historical account."

Despite the fact that she is a sophomore, Jessica Newman says she can now, "find my way around the [Law] library so well I was mistaken as a law student." In researching her paper, "Looking back: Gideon v. Wainwright's effect forty years later," she found so much material, that

"I had to learn how to quickly determine the usefulness of an article and how it fit with the rest of the information I had already gathered.... I became much better at synthesizing information and using it to strengthen arguments I already had or to branch out on new ones."

In nominating her work for the Prize, Professor Citrin observed,

"she was remarkably diligent and inventive in combining materials for law review articles, case notes, newspaper commentary on Gideon v. Wainwright, and more standard textbook discussion. She reviewed more than 20 cases and synthesized the diverse materials she employed in a well-organized and effective way."

Christy Thornton's History 101 research followed a familiar, if frustrating trajectory: her original topic proved too difficult to research here in the U.S. "Despite my passion for the Palio in Siena, a few weeks into the semester I discovered that the bulk of the primary sources rest safely in Siena's city archives-- five thousand miles from my grasp."

Using the power of Pathfinder, Christy was able to develop a second, more doable topic, "Italian immigrants in California: an exploration of the imagery surrounding their experience." She explained how in her research essay,


"I decided to first find interesting primary sources... I used Pathfinder as a tool to brainstorm possible topics, investigating compelling subject headings as I searched through the wealth of sources. Using this method I stumbled upon Bancroft Library's extensive collection on Italians who immigrated to California at the turn of the [20th] century, and I knew I had a topic worth pursuing."

She also describes a common experience of Berkeley students, the sense of being overwhelmed by the vastness of resources available to them.


"Throughout my undergraduate career, I always felt intimidated by the enormity [sic] of Berkeley's library collection. The library existed in an alternate universe, where I felt bombarded by user-friendly systems and people spoke in the language of subject headings and Gladis commands. When I began my research, the microfilm machines mystified me and NRLF was just a place to keep books that Nobody Really Looked For....Yet, after completing my research, I now feel confident in my ability to navigate the library system."

Her thesis advisor, Professor Mary Elizabeth Berry calls Christy's project, "a quest story and a conversion story. Her pursuit of the sources, and delight in what she found is one of the great triumphs.. I shall invoked her often in the future as a model. She represents what we are about here."

Andrew Jia-Yuh Yeh's project, "Multifactor asset pricing for the U.S. stock market during 1998-2002," used some of the most challenging databases on campus. His research essay and bibliography enumerate a graduate-level array of scholarly journal articles in the finance and psychology fields, as well as books on econometrics, all in support of his analysis of investor behavior.

His advisor, Professor Jonathan Berk, wrote,


"Andrew learned many new skills in the course of writing this thesis. .. he compiled an impressive literature review. Secondly, he organized the library's print and electronic resources into a data base the he could then use. Thirdly, he was able to take his theoretical knowledge of statistics and use it to make inferences about his hypothesis... finally, and most importantly, Andrew learned how to undertake a research study and generate interesting and informative original results. This last skill is most impressive... the quality of Andrew's research is well beyond the standard one usually expects of an undergraduate student."