Celebrating the Winners of the 2024 Library Research Prize

On April 30 2024, Kathleen Morton '24 and Brianna Kilker '24 were each awarded the 2024 Library Research Prize of $1,000 and were honored at a reception in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library. The committee also presented $250 to graduate student Bliss Kern '24 and undergraduate student Karla Castro '24. Each of the students spoke about their projects and and their research process, highlighting the Library's resources, services, and staff expertise. Faculty, deans, librarians, staff, administrators, students, and family, were in attendance.


Kathleen Morton '20 and '24, DNP, Family Nurse Practitioner

“The effect of the healthy sleep protocol on sleep quality in adults with inadequate sleep duration” (NURS 7687: DNP Immersion, Dr. Diana Mager)

"This journey has instilled within me a profound appreciation for the iterative nature of research and the critical importance of methodological rigor", Morton said. She used all of the Library's health databases to do a comprehensive review of studies related to sleep quality and protocols, leaving "no stone unturned" as Dr. Mager stated in her support statement. Morton identified an instrument in collaboration with a librarian, and then underwent the process to obtain the rights to use it in order to help her create her own study with 11 participants using the sleep protocol over an eight week time frame. This small scale study has encouraged the medical practice, where she conducted the work, to look further into the Healthy Sleep Protocol that she used, warranting further research in the future. At the podium, Morton expressed that she was "filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the School of Nursing and the Library."


Brianna Kilker '24

Major: International Studies. Minors: Sociology and Management

“The relationship between natural disaster and gender inequality: The case of Haiti" (INTL 4999: Senior Capstone Seminar, Dr. Janie Leatherman)

Kilker spent a significant amount of time researching to identify her capstone focus, and then kept going. Dr. Leatherman talked about the impressive scope and dedication to her work, mentioning that she had found 60 sources and taken 79 pages of meticulous notes in order to produce her 40 page capstone paper. Kilker used many of the Library's resources and services to research the impact of Haiti's 2010 earthquake on women, and more broadly on inequality in Haiti. She used various databases from the Library's International Studies research guide to find articles, books, and also looked at grey literature online. Kilker mentioned having two impactful research appointments with librarians to come up with key terms, locate sample literature reviews, and review citations, in addition to using the 24/7 research help chat box on the Library website. And when the Library did not have what she needed, InterLibrary Loan helped her overcome "the obstacle" of only being able to read article abstracts and within days was able to get full text articles and dissertations.


Bliss Kern '24 , MA, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

“Exploring psychosocial experiences of transgender and gender diverse adults on gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT): A phenomenological study”  (COUN 6568: Research Methodology, Dr. Jocelyn Novella)

Because the topic intersects with medical, social science, and political and legal discourses, the literature review required seeking out information from many disciplines and sources. Dr. Novella mentioned Kern's persistence saying "Bliss doesn't stop asking questions" and that they sometimes had to find non-traditional sources that centered the voices of transgender individuals Kern spoke to how challenging it was to find sources for their topic and that what is needed to inform counseling work is not yet fully developed, but there is a great need for it. Kern's work will continue, as they are the recipient of an Inspire Grant. "The benefit of this research process has been substantial in my development as a counselor in training. It required adept use of multiple databases to access peer reviewed information. It demanded the growth of a historical awareness and history impacts research; my target population has been understood and labeled differently over time so accessing the range of information on the population and identifying the biases baked into the field thus far required digging into the shifting language of diagnosis, identity labels, and medical care, and adjusting search terms to access research from different moments of this developing understanding."


Karla Castro '24

Major: Sociology & Anthropology; Spanish. Minors: Latinx, Latin American & Caribbean studies; Marketing

“Una aproximacion sociolinguistica a las ideologias y actitudes hacia la practica del cambio de codigo de estudiantes universitarios bilingues” (SPAN 4999: Capstone Seminar, Dr. Laura Gasca Jiménez)

Castro's work focused on the bilingualism, language ideology, linguistic identity, and social stigma of language-mixing, also referred to as code-switching. Due to the challenging nature of the topic, Castro spoke about using the 24/7 research help chat on the Library website and how the librarian suggested an appointment, and within minutes she was at the Library meeting with the librarian who helped her "think outside of the box." In her essay she stated "In retrospect, while the journey of sourcing materials for my capstone project presented its fair share of challenges, I wholeheartedly embraced every step of the way. Each obstacle taught me valuable lessons by improving my skills in using search engines, refining search
criteria, and exploring different databases."

All Library Research Prize applicants submitted an essay describing their research strategies and use of library tools and collections, and staff, along with their research project with bibliography, and a statement of faculty support. The essay helped the judges understand the investigative journey the student undertook to create the project/paper, and how their research skills and understanding/use of library services, resources, and collections have improved as a result.

The selection committee judges submissions on the following criteria:

  • Sophistication, originality and/or unusual depth or breadth in the use of library collections, including, but not limited to, printed resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media
  • Exceptional ability to locate, select, evaluate, and effectively use library resources in the creation of a project in any media that shows originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research in the future
  • Evidence of significant personal learning in the methods of research and the information gathering process, and the development of a habit of research and inquiry that shows the likelihood of persisting in the future.

We would like to thank our 2024 Library Research Prize judging committee, which was comprised of librarians and faculty from the Faculty Library Committee:

Tiara Arnold, MLIS, Research Services Coordinator

Joseph DeLuca, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Catherine Findorak, MLIS, Collection Strategies Librarian

Regina Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Management

Matthew Schirano, MLIS, Teaching & Learning Coordinator

The Library Research Prize plaque in the lobby, listing undergraduate and graduate winners since 2009, will be updated over the summer. Students can apply for the 2025 Library Research Prize with work from summer 2024, fall 2024, and spring 2025 once the submission form has been reopened by the start of the fall semester.