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Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Awards recognize students and mentors for research, creative activity

May 12, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Five Indiana University Bloomington seniors, Nicole Beckage, Juliana Dumas, Rebeca Hernandez, Shannon McEnerney and Ellen Weinzapfel, have been named recipients of the Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.

Sponsored by the provost, the vice provost for undergraduate education and the vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, the award recognizes excellence in research and creative activity and celebrates the importance of such experience for undergraduates.

Beckage photo

Nicole Beckage

"This new award celebrates the outstanding achievements of our undergraduate students in research and creative activity, and formally recognizes the faculty who give so much time and attention to developing the students' talent and professional skills," said Sonya Stephens, vice provost for undergraduate education. "The range of the students' interests and activities, as well as the quality of the work they have produced, stand as testimony both to the intellectual and creative vigor of an IU Bloomington education, and to the value of mentored research and creative activity as a part of that education. These are outstanding young scholars and artists and it is entirely fitting that their distinction, and their mentors' support of them, be honored in this way."

Students are nominated by professors with whom they have worked and are selected by their schools for nomination to the provost. Nominations are in five categories: Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Social and Applied Sciences, Professional Inquiry, Performing and Creative Arts, and Humanities.

Recipients are selected by a committee made up of the vice provosts for undergraduate education and faculty and academic affairs, the dean of the Hutton Honors College, and faculty from each disciplinary category.

Hernandez photo

Rebeca Hernandez

Nicole Beckage (Social and Applied Sciences) worked with faculty mentors Peter Todd in the Cognitive Science Program and Linda B. Smith in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and carried out research on a summer fellowship at the University of Basel. Working with Todd's data on speed dating, she built computer simulation models of the decision process that people use when making mate selection decisions. With Smith, she studied how young children learn language, showing that lack of structural connectivity in cognitive processes is associated with developmental delay.

Juliana Dumas (Performing and Creative Arts) studied in the IU Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design program, where her faculty mentor was Randy Long, professor of art. She won two significant student awards, the Alma Eikerman Award and the Pygmalion's Award. Influenced by paper crafts, she works out her jewelry designs by cutting and folding paper, rather than sketching. As a student in Long's advanced metal and jewelry class, she created a tea strainer that was accepted in a competitive exhibition at the Society of North American Goldsmiths conference in Houston.

McEnerney photo

Shannon McEnerney

Rebeca Hernandez (Social and Applied Sciences) traveled in India, Pakistan, Cuba, Guatemala and Costa Rica to pursue research. Her faculty mentor was Joelle Bahloul in the Department of Anthropology. Her paper "On the Battlefield of Midwifery: A Case Study of a Mayan Midwife Serving During and Post La Violencia" demonstrates the struggle faced by women attempting to provide maternal health care during times of political conflict. Hernandez presented her research at the 15th IU Undergraduate Research Conference last fall and at undergraduate research conferences around the country.

Shannon McEnerney (Performing and Creative Arts) produced a manuscript of original poems for her honors thesis in the Department of English, which she describes as being similar to a Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing. Her faculty mentor, Maurice Manning, refers to McEnerney as "the best undergraduate poet I've met," someone who worked hard to refine her art "with patience and humility and good spirit." In 2009, McEnerney spent six weeks in Ireland for uninterrupted writing and exploration of another culture.

Weinzapfel photo

Ellen Weinzapfel

Ellen Weinzapfel (Natural and Mathematical Sciences) worked for four years at IU in the laboratory of her mentor Yves Brun, the Clyde Culbertson Professor in the Department of Biology. She contributed to efforts to sequence the genomes of bacteria and made the critical finding that a mutant bacterium produces holdfast in solution, a breakthrough featured prominently in a proposal to renew funding for the research. She won prestigious Beckman and Goldwater research scholarships and presented her paper "Characterization of Adhesion and Motility in the Differentiating Stalked Bacterium Asticcacaulis biprosthecu," at national conferences.

The Provost's Awards for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity were presented by Provost Karen Hanson April 11 at the IU Bloomington Honors Convocation. Student winners each receive a certificate and $500. Their faculty mentors receive a commemorative pin, $500 in research funds for personal use and $500 to support future mentoring of undergraduates.