The 2023 Library Research Prize Winners

2023 Library Reesarch Prize Winners

Image of the Library Research Prize Winners, left to right: Isabella DelVecchio, Rhiannya Byrne, Dean of the Library Christina McGowan, Jack Devlin, Thomas Burke, Isabella Poschmann

On May 2nd 2023, Isabella Poschmann '23 and Jack Devlin '23 were each awarded the 2023 Library Research Prize of $1,000 and were honored at a reception in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library. The committee also presented $250 to two projects. Graduate team, Isabella DelVecchio '24 and Rhiannya Byrne '24, and to undergraduate student, Thomas Burke '24. Attendees had the opportunity to hear the students speak about their projects and ask questions. The Library Research Prize plaque in the lobby, listing undergraduate and graduate winners since 2009, will be updated over the summer.


Jack Devlin '23

MS Biomedical Engineering

“Chiral Sorting of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Using Tripeptides”

BIEG 6971/6972: Thesis 1 & 2, Dr. Isaac Macwan, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Isaac Macwan shared "The originality of this research project can be observed not only from the vast number of repeated experiments that Jack conducted over the past year but also from the numerous protocols that he combined from various research articles....With this excellent foundation that Jack has built for this project, we plan to continue working on it to accomplish the applications of sorted carbon nanotubes in the fields of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering."

Devlin's thesis on sorting metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes using tripeptides benefited from the Library's databases, Interlibrary Loan service to request articles from other libraries, as well as Zotero to manage his citations. His bibliography demonstrated his depth searching the Library's collections for journal articles, conference papers, and scientific reports.

Devlin's research was accepted for presentation at the prestigious conferences of the Materials Research Society in Fall 2022 and American Society for Engineering Education in Spring 2023. This summer he will be heading to RPI to begin the doctoral program in biomedical engineering. While there, Devlin is interested in working on issues related to neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord repair.


Isabella Poschmann '23

Majors: International Business and Business Analytics, minor in Anthropology

“The Origins of North Korean Refugee Treatment in China and South Korea: A Comparative Study Understanding Chinese and South Korean Relations with North Korea”

INST 4999: Senior Capstone Seminar, Dr. Janie Leatherman, Professor of Politics & International Studies

Poschmann demonstrated incredible personal growth to conduct her research, reflecting in her essay submission " I pushed the limit of what I believed myself to be capable of, overcoming what had once appeared to be daunting and unattainable......the librarians I worked with showed me how to search the databases for the articles I needed. I also came to understand the advantage of using them; ensuring accuracy and scholarly content." Specifically she mentioned one on one research help with a librarian as well as a research class with a librarian, which is always part of Dr. Leatherman's Capstone Seminar.

Dr. Leatherman stated "The Library is the anchor of the work we do in the classroom" and mentioned Poschmann's use of Library resources to produce an extensive bibliography included sources spanning a wide range of subject areas such as journals in economics, Asian and East Asian area studies, comparative politics, peace studies, international refugee law, human rights, Korean reunification, international affairs, defense, psychology, medicine, and public health. Leatherman also said "Her paper was a culmination of her time at Fairfield."

Post-graduation, Poschmann will continue at Fairfield Dolan, and will be getting her MBA with concentrations in Analytics and Management.


Isabella DelVecchio '24 and Rhiannya Byrne '24

MA School Psychology, Sixth Year Certificate

“Specific Learning Disability in Written Language: Characteristics and Implications”

SPED 5413: Theories/Intro to Learning Disabilities, Dr. Evelyn Bilias Lolis, Interim Dean of SEHD & Associate Professor of Psychology & Education

Dr. Bilias Lolis also stated "These students exemplified graduate-level inquiry, synthesis, and breadth is evaluating the trajectory of a learning disability in writing and its impact on the K-12 learning experience, family life, and adult life functioning." She also emphasized the clinical significance of their research and that their work was doctoral level.

DelVecchio and Byrne's project was a "doctoral level synthesis and integration of resources, experiences, and implications" drawing on "action research" within their field, locating peer-reviewed articles from the Library databases, books, and staying up to date on accessibility at the college-level from the Library's digital subscription to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thomas Burke '24

Major: History & minors in Classical Studies and Irish Studies

“The Transformation of Elite Political Thought in Ancient Greece”

CLST 3325: Athenian Democracy and Empire, Dr. Giovanni Ruffini, Professor, Classical Studies

In his submission, Burke said " I had the opportunity to learn not only about the classical world, but also to expand my knowledge of the research process, especially through the use of library resources. As I began my research, I was somewhat intimidated by the scope of my project; but through the use of the available resources within the library, I became gradually more confident in my abilities to find relevant information and to develop my thesis through the combination of a wide range of sources."

During the reception Burke talked about his use of tutorials to find and evaluate sources as well as the research guides created by the research librarians such as the Classical Studies Research Guide. Dr. Ruffini's support statement for Burke's research confirmed that his thesis was supported with a rich exploration of the relevant primary and secondary sources calling his project one of the best in the class.

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 research librarian team at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, for creating the new rubric for scoring submissions.

We would also like to thank our 2023 Library Research Prize judging committee:

Danushka Bandara, PhD, Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Julie Berrett-Abebe, PhD, Assistant Professor, Social Work

Curtis Ferree, MLIS, MFA, Associate Dean for Public Services & Coordinator of the Academic Commons Partnership

Jennifer Schindler-Ruwisch, DrPH, Associate Professor, Public Health

Ann Victor, MLIS, Acquisitions & Cataloging Strategies Librarian