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Celebrating the winners of the 2023 NEIU Libraries Award for Excellence in Research!

by Robin Harris on 2023-05-01T19:10:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

Since 2014, the NEIU Libraries have recognized outstanding student efforts in the area of library-based research through the annual Libraries Award for Excellence in Research. The award is given to students who demonstrate outstanding ability to identify, locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources and to use them in the creation of an original research project. Student award winners receive a cash prize of $300 and recognition for their outstanding efforts. 


We would like to congratulate the winners of the 2023 NEIU Libraries Award for Excellence in Research!


Nickolaos Koukis, Undergraduate student in Psychology: Political Affiliation’s and Moral Transgression’s Influence on Disgust Sensitivity and Orthorexia Scores

In 2020, Nickolaos enrolled part-time at NEIU, while working, to finish a Psychology degree he had started years earlier. “Returning was the best decision I made in my life,” he says. Before long, Nickolaos became the Psychology department tutor at the Learning Success Center and became president of NEIU’s Psychology honors society. For his Spring 2023 capstone he is studying under Dr. Amanda Dykema-Engblade to investigate the relationships between a number of variables: firstly, orthorexia, which is defined as an obsession with healthy eating; secondly, the emotional response of disgust; thirdly, political affiliation; and lastly, moral transgression. Nickolaos grounded his research in studies by psychologists Paul Rozin and Jonathan Haidt, two influential scholars of disgust, and then broadened his source base to include books and articles on orthorexia, moral wrongdoing, and political affiliation. He even contacted Dr. Radoslaw Rogoza, an expert on psychological assessment, who provided Nickolaos with a scale he developed to measure orthorexia; Nickolaos found the scale indexed in the library’s PsycTests database. Nickolaos plans to graduate in May 2023.


In his own words, “Thank you [to] Ed Remus, [NEIU Social Sciences Librarian], for taking the time to answer my questions and providing valuable insight on the navigation of our valuable databases. Your patience and professionalism are unparalleled.”


Wesley Skym, Graduate student in Communication, Media, and Theatre: Considering the Virtual Classroom During the COVID Pandemic: Implications for the Future

Wesley Skym is a transfer student in Communication, Media and Theatre in his first year of graduate studies at NEIU. Wesley’s research project compared higher education distance learning to that of K-12, including a review of the social climate and educational models preceding and during the pandemic. He hopes to create best practices for future eLearning environments for the K-12 classroom.


Wesley’s bibliography included a diverse selection of sources located within and beyond the library. These included peer-reviewed articles, newspaper articles, books, and conference proceedings found in the library catalog and databases. In addition, Wesley used author websites and legal open-access sources such as Google and Semantic Scholar to supplement his library research. Wesley demonstrated the ability to analyze the plethora of sources and cull those that did not provide as much in-depth information or overlapped content with better sources. Wesley intends on returning to this topic as a second-year graduate student, to use as his graduate thesis.


In his own words: “I would like to thank Dr. Shayne Pepper for all of his assistance with this paper, heading my thesis committee, and encouraging me to present my paper and apply for this award.”


Brooke Mullins, Graduate student in Linguistics: Semantic Shift in Gestures of Wild Gorillas 

A two-time Libraries Research Award Winner, Brooke is a Master’s student in the Lingustics program with an anticipated graduation date of May 2023. For the past year, Brooke has been preparing her thesis on the ability of gorillas to demonstrate semantic shift under Dr. Lewis Gebhardt. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of her topic, Brooke relied on the catalog and various specialized databases at the NEIU Libraries to locate books and peer-reviewed articles in linguistics, psychology, and primatology. Chris Straughn, the NEIU Linguistics subject librarian, met with Brooke to discuss advanced search techniques and recommend databases with material on great ape communicative and cognitive research. Brooke plans to adapt this research for publication and conference presentations.


In her own words, “I am very grateful for all the opportunities that have helped me to deepen my professional and academic skills. I am very grateful to Lewis Gebhardt who endlessly supported and encouraged me while I pursued a unique and difficult thesis topic. I would also like to thank Chris Straughn for helping me kickstart my thesis research by pointing me in the right direction for relevant academic materials.” 


Honorable Mentions: 

Agata Soltys (Undergraduate student in Psychology). The Relationship of Sex Education on Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction. 
Alba Susana Core Bianchi (Graduate student in Mathematics). Nonlinear Dynamics in Tumor-Immune Models.

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