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2006 Prize Winners - Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

Content section: 
Suzan Sabyl Cohen Challenges of Enforcing Group Rights in a Common-law Setting
Wael El-Nachef Carbon Monoxide and Waterpipe Smoking in a College-Setting
Breeanna Fujio The Salton Sea: Forgotten Origins
Camille Pannu Class, Identity, and Political Solidarity Among British Blacks
Andrew Strauss Puissant Pedagogies: Building a Colonial School in French Morocco, 1920-25
Andrina Tran The Paradox of Cultural Exchange: a 'Kitchen Debate' at the 1959 American National Exhibition

Suzan Sabyl Cohen
Challenges of Enforcing Group Rights in a Common-law Setting
Political Science
Dr. Michael Goldstein

Suzan Sabyl Cohen’s paper, written while she was enrolled in the UC Berkeley Washington Program, explores how legal theory and practice inform each other, in the context of the 1982 Canadian constitutional provisions protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. Cohen writes:

“I began my research broadly. I looked for books that would provide me with a thorough introduction to theories of multiculturalism, indigenous rights, and international law. Because the focus of my research was on Canadian indigenous claims, I also did web research on relevant law cases on the website for the Supreme Court of Canada…I also needed to find relevant law review articles that addressed the legal theories of indigenous claims. Lexis-Nexis and Hein Online, databases I could remotely access at the Berkeley library, proved to be invaluable resources to me. I also found using the footnotes from existing sources to be invaluable tools in finding additional sources for my research.”

Dr. Goldstein notes of Cohen’s work that:

“The paper required analysis of obscure Canadian lower court decisions and the proceedings and controversies surrounding them. It was additionally a new topic, generated by Canada’s recent adherence to an international treaty…the paper could not have been done without the creative and sophisticated use of worldwide library resources.

[In addition to using various libraries in Washington, D.C., Canada, and Berkeley] Sabyl also used her contacts at the Woodrow Wilson Center, on the Berkeley faculty, and at the Berkeley Washington Center to identify scholars who may be working on her topic or in tangential areas. She then used library resources to identify published work by these scholars.”

Wael El-Nachef
Carbon Monoxide and Waterpipe Smoking in a College-Setting
Public Health
Professor S. Katharine Hammond

Wael El-Nachef's senior honors thesis presents his study of carbon monoxide exposures in waterpipe smoking, including the results of a protocol he designed that sampled air for carbon monoxide levels in hookah cafes. El-Nachef reflects that:

“A crucial element of conducting thesis research is learning how to learn. This fundamental education began last summer, when I started conducting PubMed searches on waterpipe smoking. To my surprise, I identified only twelve articles on this topic. Compared to the thousands of studies on cigarettes, my search yields were startling. I consulted a librarian who taught me many techniques to improve my PubMed search…The improved search still yielded only 40 articles, reflecting the dearth of information on waterpipe smoking. It became imperative that I access all the information available, synthesize what was known…, and decide what areas should be explored. For example, when I found there were no studies on the waterpipe coals, I studied charcoal in general; when I found no research on the health effects from waterpipe-produced carbon monoxide, I studied a doctoral thesis on low-level carbon monoxide exposure.”

He adds,

“The work of science is not simply the measurement of observations--it is also imperative that scientists recognize the body of knowledge that precedes them and evaluate this knowledge before designing an experiment. The library system has helped me fulfill this critical duty by not only providing candid and multifaceted access to diverse and obscure articles, but by also educating me in how to best access these articles.”

Noting that El-Nachef's initial work informed her own work with WHO, Professor Hammond observes that:

“For his research Wael is using dozens of original scientific articles in the peer-reviewed literature, government documents…, health alerts, unpublished doctoral dissertations, and commercial product information …. He has found these through systematic review with multiple electronic search engines, tracing references in each article and using the citation literature to track articles others have written which cite key articles he has identified. He has obtained the original scientific articles electronically from the UCB library web site, from the printed journals directly when they were not available electronically, by visiting multiple libraries, and through interlibrary loan…[H]e has learned to read this literature and to synthesize it with his own observations, which continue to become more sophisticated with this knowledge….”

Breeanna Fujio
The Salton Sea: Forgotten Origins
Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies
Professor James Casey

Freshman Breeanna Fujio’s paper explores the early twentieth century transformation of California’s Salton Basin into the Salton Sea. Regarding her research, Fujio notes:

“Pictures were the first magic I discovered. My initial strategy was to search for ‘Salton Sea’ on Pathfinder, which brought up the Giffen Collection of photographs (dated 1905). I found them stunning in the clichéd ‘window through time’ sort of way…I then went to the internet to search for some general information on the Salton Sea from 1906…Which led me to a great discovery: these exact pictures were included in an on-line copy of The Periscope written by a woman named Pat Laflin…I…was amazed to learn that she had in fact conducted the majority of her research at the Bancroft Library and had seen the same pictures I had so recently discovered.”

Professor Casey notes that in developing her project, Fujio

“quickly found relevant secondary sources in Doe Library and some photographs at Bancroft… Breeanna tracked down an impressive variety of sources concerning the region known variously as the Salton Basin, the Salton Sink, and after 1905 as the Salton Sea. A crucial turning point in her research was the chance discovery of a living writer on the subject…whom Breeanna was able to meet through the Coachella Valley Historical Society.

Camille Pannu
Class, Identity, and Political Solidarity Among British Blacks
Political Economy of Industrialized Societies
Lecturer Alan Karras

Camille Pannu’s senior honors thesis examines the social, political, and economic factors underlying the experiences of two ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom, in order to understand declining participation in the British antiracist movement. Pannu notes about her research experience,

“I learned to weed through online search engines to pull graphic information from think tanks, national libraries, and community-funded databases…I learned that the British Library housed the only collection of British ethnic newspaper archives…After applying for funding from several sources, I traveled to London for two weeks to complete my research at the British Library in addition to interviewing local anti-racist NGOs.”

She adds,

“Despite the challenges and frustrations inherent in engaging meaningfully in research for the first time, I learned how to organize both my approach and my thoughts. I quickly realized that I couldn’t simply walk in, spend a few minutes browsing through catalogues, and then retrieve everything I hoped to find…Throughout this the library has become my lab, an incubator for my ideas and a medium within which I have been able to shape my academic vision.”

Lecturer Karras notes that:

“Her working hypothesis changed over the course of her research and, while in libraries and at conferences in the UK, she discovered that her assumptions going into the paper were completely wrong. She used, in other words, the libraries to disprove her hyposthesis. Her argument, as a result, is at once strong and clear—and very well grounded in evidence.”

Andrew Strauss
Puissant Pedagogies: Building a Colonial School in French Morocco, 1920-25
Professor Peter Sahlins

In his senior honors thesis, Andrew Strauss explores colonial and indigenous educational institutions in French Morocco as a means of understanding French assumptions about Islamic education and the ability of French colonial institutions to educate Moroccans. Strauss observes that:

"My experience at the library consistently challenged my notions of the research process. I learned that some research questions, while attractive, were not feasible. This lesson came as a result of my extensive perusal of secondary and primary sources, and the lacunae in the written records which I encountered…Working with the Library's diverse holdings taught me to adopt a flexible, interdisciplinary approach to research. The most enriching conclusions, in my experience, could spring from the most unlikely of sources. After writing this thesis, I recognized that the perceptions of a cross-cultural psychologist could be as relevant to my work as those of a fellow historian."

Professor Sahlins adds,

"Andrew was never content…merely to research the European side of things, although he did so extremely well, providing a number of important insights. Indeed, his work with the French journal Hesperis, which he was fortunate to locate at Doe, gave him the central sources about French pedagogical practices in Morocco. More critically, he wanted to find out more about indigenous Arabic modes of pedagogy, and sought out primary materials in the library collections. Among his discoveries was an Arabic historical novel from which he creatively interpolated important elements of Arabic pedagogy."

Andrina Tran
The Paradox of Cultural Exchange: a 'Kitchen Debate' at the 1959 American National Exhibition
Lecturer Jennifer Burns
GSI Sean McEnroe

In 1959 U.S. President Richard Nixon and Soviet Union Premier Nikita Kruschev sat down to talk in the model kitchen exhibit of the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Freshman Andrina Tran’s paper examines the ideological and cultural setting of the spontaneous and sometimes heated conversation that ensued, known as the “Kitchen Debate.” Commenting on one strand of her research process, Tran observes:

“I was…able to locate the official exhibition pamphlet released by the Office of Public Information. In direct contrast to frank government viewpoints and scholarly analyses, this pamphlet, meant for public consumption, revealed the fair’s every feature while trumpeting its supposed political neutrality. It soon appeared to me that the fair itself served a clear ideological purpose, so researching its little-known context and details would enhance my understanding of the political pressures surrounding the ‘kitchen debate.’”


“Through Nixon’s memoirs and various newspaper articles, I tried to determine whether events preceding Nixon’s visit may have contributed to the tempers that flared during the debate. Then, since no verbatim transcript of the debate exists, I searched for rough outlines in newspapers, magazines, and Nixon’s own account. The challenge was reconciling different versions to grasp the essential argument.”

GSI McEnroe adds:

“Her methods demonstrate sensitivity to the difficulties of understanding the relationship between the planning, staging, and public reception of this sort of political event…Andrina’s composition is so skillful that it at times conceals the complexity of the underlying research, but a close reading of the footnotes tells the story of her work.”