2019 Student Research Awards Announced

Written by Karen L. Bystrom

Sarah Barbara Watstein, MLS, MPA, Dean of the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons recently announced the Undergraduate Research Prize winners for 2019. Among the recipients are College of Arts and Sciences students Amanda Fawcett, English Honors; Sena Crow, English Honors; and Ella Fisher and Monet Kumazawa, Sport and Exercise Science.

In the announcement, Dean Watstein said, “The Selection Committee was extremely impressed to receive such a strong and varied set of applications representing diverse disciplines, research approaches, and reflections on scholarship. The Award was created to affirm the importance of encouraging, supporting and celebrating the scholarship of students.  This year’s Award includes a new category for Group Research Projects.”

Highlights about the projects:

First Prize, $500
Amanda Fawcett – English Honors
“Medieval Posthumanism: Embodiment and Gendered Cyborgs in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale”

Amanda Fawcett’s Honors Thesis project is a deftly woven analysis of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina film and Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale as storytelling that critiques and challenges our concepts of gendered bodies.   Drawing from medievalism, postmodernism, philosophy, and film theory, Amanda examines Western concepts of dualism and cyborg technologies as ways to explore “the territories between male and female, denaturalizing the expectations for the manifestation of gender on the body” (Fawcett, 15).   She takes a creative, exploratory, and thorough approach to research, organizing diverse sources in order to place them in conversation with each other.  Dr. Kate Koppelman (English), her faculty member, comments, “The project speaks to a broader audience than just medievalists and asks questions about gendered embodiment that are particularly relevant and vital at this cultural and historical moment. It offers a new way to read a medieval text while also raising questions about how medieval texts can help us ask more immediately important questions about how gender expectations act upon individual bodies in the real world.”

Second Place Prize, $250
Sienna Pallesen – Biology
“Antibiotic Resistance and Microbial Diversity in the Puget Sound”

Sienna Pallesen’s independent research combined fieldwork and lab analysis to investigate microbial diversity and antibiotic resistance in the Puget Sound environment.  Throughout the project, Sienna engaged all aspects of a comprehensive research project.  She identified appropriate research methodologies, used a professional scientific network, and modified an established protocol to better fit her project needs.  She demonstrated resiliency to challenges and a commitment to sustained, high-quality work.  Her faculty member, Kristin Hultgren (Biology), observed that, “Sienna worked very independently in finding a publicly available protocol for studying antibiotic resistance, researching how to adapt it to marine sediments, troubleshooting her methods, finding novel ways to streamline the techniques using the literature, and analyzing the data.  She was organized, curious, and a very self-motivated and independent student.” 

Third Place Prize, $250
Sena Crow - English Honors
“Radical Imaginings: Indigenous Futurisms and the Decolonizing Possibilities of Contemporary Indigenous Fiction”

Sena Crow’s project analyzes three literary works by Indigenous authors to examine the ways science fiction and dystopian storytelling can further decolonization and center Indigenous futurity.  Her research dives deep into the scholarly conversations and she regularly sought feedback and assistance throughout her project to ensure her work effectively communicated to a range of readers.  Christina Roberts (English), her faculty member, comments “Sena’s project exemplifies the ways in which current academic projects can interrogate biases around what constitutes academic work, while also being attentive to the ways in which methodologies around research can influence cultural perceptions.  In my mind, her project illustrates what I would hope for a Seattle University undergraduate research project; it combines her personal passions and interests with questions and themes of critical importance to our shared world.”

Group Research Prize, $1,000
Ella Fisher and Monet Kumazawa – Sport and Exercise Science
<“The Relationship Between Physical Activity Knowledge, Barriers, and Exercise Behavior in First-Year Undergraduate College Students”

Ella Fisher and Monet Kumazawa studied the relationship between students’ awareness of exercise guidelines and their own efficacy in being physically active.  Studying a topic of immediate relevance to college students, their project engaged all aspects of the research process from an intensive literature review, defining their research questions, designing a data collection instrument, and then statistically analyzing their results for significance and recommendations for further study.  They reported out their project with a Powerpoint slideshow and a video of their SUURA presentation.  They also presented at the Northwest Student Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium at Western Washington University in April.  As their faculty member Erica Rauff (Kinesiology) comments, “Ella and Monet have both gained invaluable knowledge regarding research methods and data analysis.  They were both able to take concepts previously learned in the classroom and apply it to an actual population and think critically about the implications of their findings.  Their project was submitted to a regional conference and accepted as an oral presentation. They were the only undergraduate students to present at this conference, which speaks to the high quality work these students have done. I was beyond impressed with their professionalism at the conference and the students received much praise for the rigor of their work by many of the professionals at the conference.”

Full information about the winning research projects are available here.

The awards were co-sponsored by the Office of Fellowships and Student Research.

2019 Undergraduate Research Award Selection Committee

  • Lydia Bello – Research Services, Library Faculty
  • Lynn Deeken, Director of Library Student Success Initiatives, Library Faculty
  • Katie Guts – Psychology Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Sujeong Kim, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing
  • Rochelle Lundy – Scholarly Communication Officer, Library Faculty
  • Alex Smith, Assistant Director, Writing Center
  • Jordan Walsh – Learning Specialist, Learning Assistance Programs