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Monroe Library Student Research Competition Winners

By Loyola University on Tue, 05/04/2021 - 10:21

Student Researchers Excel

In the past year, librarians have been as busy as ever working to teach information literacy and research skills in the classroom and through numerous individual consultations. Having discovered new ways to help students access all the sources they need in a completely remote context, we were delighted (but not surprised) to see a bumper crop of entries for the Monroe Library Student Research Competition. There were some truly difficult choices to make, as our students have clearly been busy persevering through this last year’s challenges to produce consistently excellent work at all levels.

Our winners come from a variety of Loyola’s colleges: Arts and Sciences, Music and Media, and Nursing and Health. Disciplines represented include criminal justice, music, nursing, and psychology. Our judges were impressed by all of our winners’ common interest in identifying or finding solutions to very real systemic problems that impact people living in today’s world. 


Victoria Blondell, a Psychology major taking a course with Criminology & Justice professor Andrew Denney, evaluated the applicability of the criminological labeling theory. Over the course of the project, she effectively narrowed her thesis by coordinating exploratory and strategic search strategies, connecting criminology scholarship  to crime statistics and state reports. What especially impressed us was how she traced the development of the theory through the historical emergence of major studies. She framed the theory as importantly shaped by the 1960s and as useful for showing where state policies often exacerbate crime rather than alleviating it. Blondell closes persuasively, suggesting that labeling theory holds real relevance today for reviewing reentry programs, drug and specialty courts, and ban-the-box legislations.

Kelly Cuppett, a master’s candidate in the MM (Master of Music) in Music Performance program (piano), conducted in-depth research on the impacts of civil rights on classical musicians of color and the classical music community in New Orleans during the nineteenth century, specifically leading up to and during the Reconstruction. In the course of this research, she utilized music scores, scholarly material, historical newspapers, and government documents from libraries, archives, and free online sources. Throughout her research for this paper written for Prof. Valerie Goertzen’s class, she consulted with librarians and archivists to track down every source that was referenced. As she pointed out, “The paper is not a happy one, but an important one, as we struggle with similar issues of discrimination, police brutality, and systemic racism today.”

Ashley Messina’s senior thesis (written under the direction of Prof. Enrique Varela) explored the effects of assaultive trauma on victims, as compared to nonassaultive trauma. She utilized Monroe Library resources to explore the literature of the physiological sciences to help formulate her research question and design her study, which surveyed fellow Loyola students’ experiences with different kinds of trauma, and to help draw conclusions on the long term effects on trauma victims. Finding that Assaultive Trauma (AT) causes significantly greater negative cognitions and affects social functioning more than Nonassaultive Trauma (NAT), Messina notes, “In all cases of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) symptoms, AT was consistently associated with higher levels of PTS symptom severity than NAT.” Such patterns in a college population, she argues, present the clear need for college counselors to specialize in the treatment of trauma. 

Gregory Prenatt, a doctoral candidate in the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program working with Prof. Amrita Datta, conducted and coordinated research that included a truly impressive number and variety of sources in his research proposal. His project targets clinical programs aimed at reducing postoperative infections among patients recovering from colorectal surgery, which results in more postoperative infections than most other types of surgery. Having found optimistic existing research on enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programs, Prenatt hopes to suggest improvements to existing programs. He stresses the value of these programs, indicating that “benefits can be seen in decreased length of stay, decreased hospital readmissions, and decreased number of adverse outcomes.” The results of his ongoing doctoral research promise to have a very real impact on helping ensure patient recovery in the aftermath of this difficult operation. 


We congratulate our winners for their outstanding work, and we wish to thank all of our entrants for making these awards truly competitive due to the overall high quality of their projects. Looking forward, we also urge students working on research projects during the 2021-22 academic year to contact us early in 2022 for details on next year’s competition, which is also open to students who graduate anytime in that year.