U of T news
  • Follow U of T News

Undergraduate students recognized for research skills by U of T Libraries

Professor Ron Leprohan, from the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, his student Evelyn Hayes and Sandy Welsh, vice-provost, students. Hayes was one of six winners of a U of T Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize

Six undergraduate students at the University of Toronto have been recognized for their outstanding research, which required delving deep into archival records and scientific literature on topics ranging from Technicolor and colour film technologies to the text of an ancient Egyptian funerary statuette.

The winners of U of T Libraries Undergraduate Research Prizes for their innovative and effective search and use of sources in completing course assignments – Evelyn Hayes, Andrea Ho, An Li Tsang, Katya Smirnova, Jaya Thirugnanasampanthan, and Kelsey Wiseman – were honoured at a recent reception and awarded $1,000 each.

"This prize is a wonderful opportunity to showcase and award excellence in research by undergraduate students at the University of Toronto," said U of T Libraries' Chief Librarian Larry Alford.

To be considered, students submitted their research, a letter of recommendation from their instructor and a personal statement about their work. The prize is open to undergraduates of any field of study and from any campus.

The winning papers will be made available to everyone through TSpace, U of T’s open access digital research repository.

“Although the winners come from different disciplines – history, cinema studies, political sciences, Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, and kinesiology – and write on widely different topics, there is a common thread among them all,” said Sandy Welsh, vice-provost, students, who introduced the event.

“These students show curiosity and articulated reflective thinking in their search and use of information, often in new and exciting ways. It’s clear that our U of T undergraduate students are engaging in very creative learning,” she said.

Tsang focused on using primary research to explore the rise of colour film in Hollywood, working closely with Innis College librarian Kate Johnson.

“She gave us the most important research advice I ever seen which is: Never just do one search,” said Tsang. “She made the whole process so approachable and straightforward that I felt really comfortable.”

Tsang appreciated the opportunity “to turn all of these things that I was researching into the kind of academic work that we had been reading and learning from in class.”

Hayes, a volunteer at the Royal Ontario Museum, chose to challenge the textual precedent for her Middle Egyptian class, and instead translate and describe a 2,700-year-old shabti, a funerary figurine used in Ancient Egypt.

Professor Ron Leprohan, from the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, noted Hayes's tenacity. “It’s one thing to have the text laid out in front of you, it’s another thing to have an object.”

Hayes said the assignment gave her a new appreciation of the research process, and a “unique chance to improve my research skills, my writing skills, my linguistic skills – and my drawing skills at times.”

Learn more about the U of T Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize