Undergraduates recognized for research by U of T Libraries

From left to right, Chief Librarian Larry Alford, Provost Cheryl Regehr, student Monica Layarda and Professor Robert Bothwell

From uncovering the experience of Jewish refugees in Hong Kong to searching for clues to improve breast-cancer treatments – U of T undergraduates were recognized for their outstanding research, which required delving deep into archival records and scientific literature.

Six students received U of T Libraries' Undergraduate Research Prize for their innovative and effective search and use of sources in completing course assignments at the second annual prize reception on May 26.

The winners – Angela HouTaylor IrvineMonica Layarda, Imindu LiyanageAlexandra Southgate and Ryan Sun – were awarded $1,000 each.

They worked with a wide variety of materials including scholarly journals and primary sources found in archives and government documents.

“It is wonderful to see the research students produce from the wealth of information that we have available here at the University of Toronto Libraries,” said U of T Libraries Chief Librarian Larry Alford.

Learn more about the U of T Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize

To be considered, students submitted their research, a letter of recommendation from their instructor and a personal statement reflecting on 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. 

“The winners are exceptional examples of the intellectual power and persistence needed to succeed in research,” said Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr, who introduced the event.

“These students accessed a broad range of materials and collaborated with faculty members and librarians here at U of T and throughout the world to investigate their scholarly questions and write up their findings,” she added.

“It’s clear to me that U of T undergraduate students are engaging in ground-breaking research – one of the benefits of studying here at our world-class, research-intensive institution.”

Liyanage focused on identifying potential drivers of metastatic breast cancer by observing possible correlations in the existing research literature for a course on human biology research.

“All the work that we do as scientists and as researchers is predicated on the research done before us,” he said. “This wonderful body of knowledge is... scattered literally around the world in every form of database, type of journal and type of article that you can conceive of.”

Layarda, who is in the international relations specialist program, combed through U.S., British and Canadian foreign policy documents, finding a gap in scholarship about Canada’s relationship with Indonesia during the 1960s. Her professor, historian Robert Bothwell from the Faculty of Arts & Science, says her research is unique. She wrote the paper for his capstone foreign policy seminar at Trinity College and said she was grateful for the help of librarians at Trinity’s Graham Library and Robarts Library.

Layarda said she applied the historical training that she received “to fully undertake the task of an historian, to go out to the archives and dig for fresh avenues to write a historical narrative, a story based on the facts that I uncovered.”


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