Holly Gwydir and Brian Shannon share the Libraries Student Research Prize for excellence in scholarship and research

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2019 Lehigh Library Research Prize winners Gwydir and Shannon

Lehigh undergraduate students Holly Gwydir and Brian Shannon will share the Libraries Student Research Prize for 2019.  Sponsored by Library and Technology Services (LTS) and the Friends of the Libraries, the Prize recognizes excellence in undergraduate scholarship and the use of library and research resources.

Holly Gwydir’s A Study of Poverty in Tajikistan

Holly Gwydir ’19, will receive a dual degree in International Relations and Political Science. She completed A Study of Poverty in Tajikistan as part of Mary Anne Madeira’s course International Relations 322: Poverty and Development. Prize reviewers recognized Gwydir’s skill in capturing a complex topic in prose that engages both specialists and lay audiences. Professor Madeira described the strength of the library research underpinning this study on Tajikistan and Gwydir’s ability to situate the country in the theoretical literature on development that was presented in the course. “Holly wrote one of the best student papers I've read, and her work is even more remarkable considering that she selected such an under-studied country. I was very impressed by her analysis of the political and economic factors that have hindered Tajikistan's development, as well as her own arguments about promising and realistic paths forward for Tajikistan.”

Originally from Monmouth County, New Jersey, Gwydir became interested in studying Eastern Europe after traveling to Tbilisi, Georgia as a sophomore. While at Lehigh, she has been involved with Break the Silence and the Center for Gender Equity. She is currently working on an honors thesis in Political Science on the topic of civil religion in American politics. Gwydir will attend law school after graduation, has been admitted to several institutions so far including Duke University and George Washington University.

Brian Shannon’s  Bleeding Kansas: Frontier Politics and Rhetoric

Brian Shannon, ’19, will complete a degree in History with a minor in Business and Global Studies this spring.  His research paper Bleeding Kansas: Frontier Politics and Rhetoric was part of his History 391 course, Honors Thesis in History with Professor Monica Najar. The library and faculty review committee felt the paper was exceptional in all facets, but particularly in its library research. Shannon included an extensive and well-curated collection of primary and secondary resources. Dr. Monica Najar observes, “[Shannon’s] conceptualization of the paper was smart and challenging, and his research was ambitious and painstaking.  He pored through newspapers, speeches, and congressional papers to understand how the warring factions in Kansas made their arguments to each other and to the American people.” 

A senior from Garden City, New York Brian’s interests are wide-ranging, and he has engaged in activities spanning history, education, and finance. As an intern at the Foundation for the Bethlehem Area School District,  he assisted with fundraising, and he continues to volunteer for the Foundation. Through the Lehigh program Eye to Eye, he mentored local middle school students with learning disabilities. Brian is a member of the consulting and finance group TAMID, and this past summer he served as an agriculture research analyst at a Connecticut-based trading firm.

Prize Details

Both Gwydir and Shannon will receive $500 and a certificate of recognition, and their papers will become part of the Lehigh Libraries digital archive, Lehigh Preserve.  Awards will be presented at the 2019  Symposium on Teaching and Learning at Lehigh University.

The Prize is sponsored by Library and Technology Services and the Friends of the University Libraries. The selection process is rigorous and involves two phases of review. First, a team of research librarians reviews the pool of applicants and selects papers to go to a faculty review group. In the second phase, a faculty review group selects the winner(s) from the finalist pool. This year, librarians narrowed the submissions from a pool of over forty applications to a small pool of finalists. Faculty reviewers selected five research papers from these very strong finalist papers.

Photo by Allen Kingsbury, Library and Technology Services.