Announcing the 2017 winners of the Libraries Student Research Prize for excellence in scholarship and research

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Perevezentseva, left, and Kocher, right, seated outdoors in front of the EWFM Library

Lehigh undergraduate students Anastassiya Perevezentseva and Deanna Kocher will share the Libraries Student Research Prize for 2017. 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.

Anastassiya Perevezentseva: Is dignity an inescapably religious concept?

Anastassiya Perevezentseva, ’18, a junior in International Relations and Political Science, received the Prize for her paper Is Dignity an inescapably religious concept? As part of an Eckhard Scholar course, Anastassiya explored the concept of human dignity by researching religious and secular definitions; she discusses the implications for examining arguments and narratives from both traditions. Library Prize reviewers were impressed with the paper’s thoughtful prose and its sophisticated, extensive, and sustained analysis from conception to conclusion.

Anastassiya states that she frequently encountered the term dignity in international relations and was drawn to study the interfaith aspect of human dignity. Professor Dena Davis, who assigned the research paper, notes, “In analyzing the contributions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the concept of dignity, Ms. Perevezentseva took on a big intellectual challenge. Her paper showed strong skills in research, writing, and organization, as well as original thinking.”

Anastassiya is from Aktobe, Kazakhstan. An Eckardt Scholar, Anastassiya serves as the Augustinians International NGO Youth Representative at the United Nations Department of Public Information as a part of Lehigh-UN partnership. She is also an LTS TRAC Writing Fellow, working as a peer writing tutor in courses across disciplines. Anastassiya is involved in Lehigh UNICEF Club, the Newman Center, the Russian Club, and the Lehigh Multi-Faith Initiative.

Deanna Kocher: Children's concept of animacy: The humanoid robot and the robotic human

Deanna Kocher, ’17, is a senior in the IDEAS (Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences) program, and she is minoring in Science, Technology, and Society. She researched and wrote Children's concept of animacy: The humanoid robot and the robotic human for Professor Amanda Brandone’s Psychology course, Children’s Thinking. In this paper Deanna investigates what behavioral and intellectual capabilities change a child’s perception of an object’s animacy.

Deanna’s interest in this topic was sparked by interactions with children. “They perceive robots differently than adults -- for instance, Furbies and Tomagotchis are very 'real' to children.” The review group was impressed with the originality of the topic and Deanna’s mastery and synthesis of the relevant literature and strong grasp of the prose of scientific methodology and communication.

Dr. Brandone, writes, “Deanna isolated a gap in the literature that deserves further research. Her design choices were well motivated and resulted in a clever research design that I would like to see carried out!”

Deanna is a Rossin Junior Fellow, a Community Service Office Tutor, and she participates in Women's Club Soccer. She is involved in Engineers without Borders and is working on a Campus Furniture Design Team this year. After graduating, Deanna will continue at Lehigh as a Presidential Scholar; she will look at how designers create technologies that encourage use/overuse, and then apply this knowledge to create technologies with socially beneficial designs.

Prize Details
Both Anastassiya and Deanna will receive a $500 check 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 2017 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-five applications to a small pool of finalists. Faculty reviewers selected Anastassiya’s and Deanna’s research papers from these very strong finalist papers.

Photo by Allen Kingsbury, Library and Technology Services