Five undergraduate Hoosiers across an array of disciplines have been honored with the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.
Created in 2010, the Provost’s Award seeks to recognize undergraduates that spearhead or collaborate on excellent or original academic work. Students are nominated by mentoring professors and then selected by a committee of faculty and administrators.
The 2019-2020 winners, four seniors and one first year, represent majors from fashion design to linguistics to neuroscience.
Courtney Broadnax: Creative and Performing Arts Category
Courtney, a 2020 graduate, majored in Fashion Design and International Studies. This dual study track served her particularly well when the Fashion Scholarship Fund design case competition asked competitors to consider the challenges of global expansion for a fashion brand in the 2018 event. Courtney rose to the occasion, drawing from both the theory and practice of her dual majors and learning a breadth of new technical skills along the way. Courtney’s success continued when she won the FSF case competition again in 2019, this time earning the attention of designer Brandon Maxwell, plus an additional cash prize and new laptop.
When asked what the project taught her, Courtney said: “I learned how to research and synthesize and how to manage time. But I also learned about how I bring my own experiences to the table to try and find solutions to the problems presented. The process of wearing many hats forces you to confront the ways your life, your schooling, the commercial industry, and your research connect, so I learned in more than one way how to keep an open mind.”
Devon Miller: Humanities Category
Devon, an English major and first-year student, was nominated by her professor Joey McMullen because she far exceeded the typical depth and scope of the class research paper assignment. Devon merged the worlds of literature and art in her paper titled, “To Write a Painting: Quantifying ‘The Hemingway Theory.’” Inspired by Hemingway’s desire to “write as Cézanne paints,” the paper explored ways that literature and art are measured in the modern world and identified five literary-artistic dimensions that could be used to evaluate Hemingway’s success at his task. Devon’s paper then transcends Hemingway to apply the same five dimensions to popular fiction.
“The most challenging thing,” says Devon, “was definitely feelings of efficacy. Multiple times throughout the project, I wondered if I was too young to do a project like this, smart enough, [or] ready. I think the takeaway here is that no one ever does anything completely alone, but you are always a little more capable then you believe. If something interests you, you should pursue it with full speed, and the rest will follow.”
Leah Burroughs: Natural and Math Sciences Category
Leah is a 2020 graduate with dual majors of Neuroscience and Biology. She was nominated as a result of several research and analysis projects, including bringing to IU a novel method of electric field modeling from a conference in Vancouver, and learning a sophisticated statistical procedure to evaluate the auditory processing abilities in patients with schizophrenia compared to a control group via EEG data. Leah’s nominating professor William Hetrick said he hasn’t encountered Leah's level of methodology from an undergraduate before, and he expects her EEG and psychosis work to be published.
“I was always very interested in science broadly, but I was not sure which area of science that I was most interested in,” said Leah. “After taking both an anatomy and psychology class in high school, I became fascinated with the brain and nervous system. So little is known about these complex systems and so much can be gained from their rigorous scientific study.”
Leah’s time as a Hoosier is not over. “I plan to continue research in neuroscience as I begin medical school at IU School of Medicine in the fall.”
Annie Hope: Professional Inquiry Category
Annie is a 2020 graduate majoring in Apparel Merchandising. She was a finalist in the Fashion Scholarship Fund’s 2019 case competition alongside fellow recipient Courtney Broadnax and a top-five finalist in the National Retail Federation’s Next Generation Scholarship, both of which came with cash prizes and access to top fashion executives. These competitions require several stages of research, planning, creative innovation, and effective presentation – all of which Annie accomplished while balancing a full-time internship.
Reflecting on the most meaningful part of her successes as an undergraduate, Annie said her NRF scholarship win stands out. “I received a $10,000 scholarship and helped to promote Indiana University's Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design. It was amazing to share my love for IU's program on a national level.”
Ivette Dreyer: Social and Applied Sciences Category
Ivette is completing a B.A. in Spanish and a B.A. in German with an intention to continue to the 4+1 M.A. in German. Her paper, “Pragmatic Variations of Forms of Address in Golden Age Spanish,” evolved from a term paper in Spring 2019 into an Honors thesis and is now being considered for publication in the IULC Working Papers in Linguistics. Ivette was selected to present at the 20th International Conference of Pragmatics and Language Learning (April 2020).
Ivette noted that the most challenging aspect of her work on this paper was the number of revisions while her research and writing evolved–she went through five different versions of the paper before submitting to conferences and publications. “I am very grateful for this award, but more so, I am grateful for and humbled by all the support I received from my professors. These types of projects are always a team effort.”
Provost’s Award recipients receive a certificate. Faculty mentors receive a personal research cash contribution and an award to fund future undergraduate mentorship.
The sponsors of the award include the Offices of the Provost, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.