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Brandeis Library Awards Research Excellence Prize Winners for 2024

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Winners pictured, clockwise beginning with upper left: Dahlia Ramirez, Noa Emi, Danielle Wallner, Hannah Laffer, Yair Berzofsky, Adah Anderson, Gustavo Nascimento, and Irina Znamirowski. 

The Brandeis Library's Research Excellence Prize recognizes students who apply sophisticated information literacy skills to the selection, evaluation, and synthesis of sources for a research project. The 2024 winners were selected from a pool of outstanding student submissions in nine categories:

  • Community-engaged research: Adah Anderson, Examining Reentry in Massachusetts: Perspectives from System-Impacted People and Those Working in Reentry
    “This project has taught me that sometimes when conducting research, you need to adapt and change your approach to the process. For me, this often took the form of finding new ways to speak to incarcerated people, a population I deemed to be integral to my work but also unfortunately, very controlled and hidden from the public. Throughout this research, I adapted to conversing with many from this community online and was happy to speak to a few over the phone, despite my initial aim being to meet with each person individually and in person. More than anything, this project showed me that sometimes the processes in place that limit your ability to conduct research are results in and of themselves, as my work demonstrated that Massachusetts DOC regulations for corresponding with those inside prison are made to seclude this population from those on the outside. Overall, the library resources helped me immensely throughout this research project and others I have completed in the past.”   -Adah Anderson
  • Research completed for an undergraduate senior thesis: Irina Znamirowski, Beyond the Character: An Examination of Dissimulation and Metatheatre in Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Hamlet
    “This was a philosophical-literary thesis, but Irina also used as primary source the Brandeis First Folio which helped her make a central argument about interaction between characters on the interestingly relevant basis of line layouts — e.g. whether lines seemed to be shared between two speakers or whether one speaker was completely done before the second speaker began.” -William Flesch, Professor of English
  • Student research related to racism and anti-racism: Noa Emi, Exilic Intimacy: Scenes of Erotic Performance and the Metaphysics of Rape
    “noa's essay constitutes an extended and important discussion of incest and rape in two Caribbean novels. noa marshals sometimes quite difficult theoretical arguments to connect abuse in the present to past and ongoing implications of violent colonial patriarchy for constructions of masculinity and femininity for the descendants of African enslavement and South Asian indentureship: these are questions that persist into the present. noa both sifts through and constructs a convincing theoretical argument, and applies it carefully to well-selected portions of both novels.” -Faith Smith, Marta F. Kauffman Chair in African and African American Studies and Professor of English
  • Climate change-related research: Hannah Laffer, Quantifying Climate Shifts Across Chilean Landscapes from the Andes to the Pacific and Atacama to Patagonia
    "Hannah put a huge amount of effort into her senior thesis about climate change in Chile over the past 4 decades. In particular, I was impressed with how she managed to wrangle a ton of climatic data from across the country, including temperature, precipitation, wind and sea surface temperature. Getting some of this data even required her to request it from the Chilean Navy! She then essentially taught herself how to code in R." -Sally Warner, Associate Professor of Climate Science
  • Research completed in a University Writing Seminar (UWS): Dahlia Ramirez, How To Make Death Fun: Tyler Feder’s Genius In Dancing At The Pity Party
    "Dahlia's UWS paper represents research and writing at the highest level. Dahlia explores color theory and the psychology of grief through her original analysis of Dancing at the Pity Party, a powerful but understudied graphic memoir. Dahlia challenges conventional attitudes around ‘teenage’ and ‘adult’ literature, and persuasively argues that bright colors, simplistic compositions, and humor are appropriate elements for comics about 'serious' topics." -Rafael Abrahams, University Writing Seminar Instructor and PhD Student in History
  • Research completed by an undergraduate student outside of UWS: Gustavo Nascimento, Gardens - A Vessel For Self-Fashioning
    "Undertaking this project has transformed my approach to research in several ways. I have
    developed a deeper appreciation for the role of library resources and services in supporting
    academic inquiry and scholarship. I have also learned to navigate complex information
    landscapes more effectively, utilizing advanced search techniques and evaluation criteria to
    locate and assess sources. Moreover, I have understood the value of free brainstorming and
    the use of a canvas that allows you to analyze your sources and personal ideas as if you were
    seeing them in a third-person view. Ultimately, I gained confidence in my ability to tackle
    research challenges and overcome obstacles in order to get a message across and, hopefully,
    inspire those who are reading it." -Gustavo Nascimento
  • Research completed by a graduate student: Danielle Wallner, The Silent Women of the Future: A Comparative Case Study of Female Representation and Futurism in Early Science Fiction Films
    "She uncovered major silent film sources, some of which are shockingly provocative both for Russia and Italy. Her work is deep, digitally grounded, and highly original." - Alice A. Kelikian, Associate Professor of History
  • Research that makes use of materials in the Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections: Abigail Roberts, Brandeis' First Folio: Ownership, Observation, and Opportunities
    "This was a wonderful use of Brandeis's resources--a senior essay about our First Folio, in which Abby took full advantage of the archive and its opportunities for her to understand something important about Shakespeare's publication history and reception. She studied the Folio and its digital copy very carefully, and brought new attention to this amazing resource." Ramie Targoff, Jehuda Reinharz Professor in the Humanities
  • Digital research project: Yair Berzofsky, unfinished.wav
    "Yair is a master at digital photography, lighting, set design and music." -Alice A. Kelikian, Associate Professor of History

Congratulations to all of the winners!


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Brandeis Library has purchased access to the following resources:

  • Archives of Sexuality and Gender: Community and Identity in North America Offers perspectives on society, sexual identity, community building, and gender issues. This archive focuses on North America, with collections from Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It presents social history that casts a spotlight on diversity, equity, and inclusion with materials that cover activism and social justice issues, highlight disabilities in Queer society, offer information around alternative sexualities, document interactions between sexuality and religion, and represent diverse ethnic communities across North America.
  • Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movements Primary source materials documenting civil rights activism by the everyday citizens of Black, Latine, Indigenous, and Asian American/Pacific Islander communities. Includes letters, correspondence, demonstration plan outlines, transportation logs and plans, meeting minutes, programs from worship services, and photographs, primarily from the 1950s and 1960s. Brandeis Library is one of the financial supporters of this open access resource.
  • East View: Ukrainian Crossroads E-books Collection Captures a historical period when the definition of “Ukraine” shifted constantly and competing ideas about Ukraine, Ukrainians, and their future fueled vibrant debates and violent clashes in the first half of the 20th century. Includes history books, polemical essays, tour guides, economic statistical publications, archival collections, political instruction manuals, memoirs, and works on folk art and daily life. 

Additionally, the Library has added a subscription to ComAbstracts. 

  • ComAbstracts With coverage back to 1915, this database contains more than 120,000 abstracts of articles and books published in the primary professional literature of the communication(s) field as well as bibliographic records.

Additionally, the Library has purchased backfiles of the following Wiley journals:

Please reach out to your subject librarian to discuss using these databases in your teaching and research.

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Brandeis Library is currently participating in the ProQuest Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA) program. Through an annual subscription fee, the EBA program provides access to a large number of primary source databases and, at the end of each fiscal year, the Library is able to select titles for perpetual access. Brandeis Library has purchased the following databases for perpetual access:

  • Rolling Stone Archive This link opens in a new windowThe backfile of Rolling Stone, from its launch in 1967 to the present. One of the most influential consumer magazines of the 20th-21st centuries, it initially sought to reflect the cultural, social, and political outlook of a generation of students and young adults. It has been a leading vehicle for rock and popular music journalism, as well as covering wider entertainment topics such as film and popular culture.
  • Black Thought and Culture Covers the non-fiction published works by major American Black leaders. Where possible, the complete published non-fiction works are included, as well as interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, and letters.

In previous years, the Library purchased perpetual access to the Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive, Women's Magazine Archive‎ (1846-2005), Black Studies Center, African Diaspora (1860-Present), Mass Incarceration and Prison Studies, Atlanta Daily World, the Los Angeles Sentinel, The Vogue Archive, Women's Wear Daily Archive, LGBT Magazine Archive (Collection 1), Religious Magazine Archive, Pittsburgh Courier (1911–2010), and the News Policy and Politics Magazine Archive through the ProQuest EBA program.

The Library has also added the following databases to the EBA plan for the upcoming year. We will have access to these resources through at least May 31, 2025.

  • Engineering Case Studies Online Provides a single, comprehensive source for a wide range of video and text material focusing on engineering failures and successes. Includes  documentaries, accident reports, experiments, visualizations, case studies, lectures and interviews from leading engineering institutions around the world.
  • Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive Collection 5: Video Gaming Consists of the backfiles of more than 40 gaming magazines from the 1980s through to 2020. These titles cover a wide variety of consoles/platforms and aspects of the industry.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1874-2003) (add to Databases A-Z)
  • Socialist and Radical Periodicals The backfiles of more than 25 periodicals reflecting the 20th/21st–century history of a variety of movements and ideologies on the political left. These titles include Marxist, socialist, communist, social democratic, and Fabianist publications, addressing key topics and events such as labour history / workers' rights, international socialism, anti-Nazi movements, Red Scares, class struggles, campaigns / legislation, and youth radicalism.
  • Trade and Globalization Studies Online Examines the history of trade, trade policies, financial crises, emerging markets and technological innovations that unite the world in an ever-changing system of trade. The collection gathers books, case studies, archival materials and documentaries to provide historical context and insights.

Please reach out to your subject librarian to discuss using these databases in your teaching and research.

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The Leo Frank Trial Collection at Brandeis University documents one of the most notorious capital-punishment cases in early 20th-century America. Leo Frank, a pencil-factory superintendent in Atlanta, Georgia, and a northern Jew, was at the center of a murder trial and lynching that continues to reverberate a hundred years later. Leo Frank's trial and murder led to both the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the founding of the Anti-Defamation League, and his story is the subject of the Broadway musical Parade. This collection was donated to the University in 1961 by Harold E. and Maxine Marcus, and its digitization is funded by the Brandeis National Committee's Honoring our History campaign. View materials from the collection online

Of particular note is correspondence between Leo Frank and his wife, Lucille, as well as correspondence to and from Georgia Governor John M. Slaton and Frank's lawyer Luther Z. Rosser. The collection notably chronicles the national attention surrounding the case, with materials ranging from letters of support and petitions on behalf of Frank, to condemnations and death threats against Governor Slaton. Read more about the collection and view the finding aid for the Leo FrankTrial Collection held by Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections. 

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