64 Undergraduates Receive Annual Hoopes Prize

Sixty-four undergraduates learned Wednesday that they had received the College’s Hoopes Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding scholarly work or research. The majority of this year’s awardees received the prize for their senior theses or senior projects.

Awarded annually, the Hoopes Prize is funded through the estate of Thomas T. Hoopes, Class of 1919, and seeks to “recognize, promote, honor, and reward excellence in the work of undergraduates and their capabilities and skills in any subject,” according to the prize’s website.

Winners of the prize come from across the College’s concentrations, with this year’s winning projects ranging from an anthropological analysis of the Detroit water crisis to a feature-length creative film.

Earth and Planetary Sciences concentrator Sam L. Goldberg ’16 received the prize for his work on refining mathematical models for sea level change.

“I am proud of my thesis, and my adviser is proud of the thesis,” he said, “but it was nice to get the additional validation.”


To be considered for the award, students must be nominated by their thesis or project advisers and then complete a nomination form. Lane B. Baker ’16, a history concentrator who won the prize for his thesis on exploration in the Renaissance, emphasizes the role his adviser played in the success of his thesis.

“The part of this that is most important to me is the role that my adviser has played in this,” Baker said. “He was very influential in pushing me to write something of this caliber.”

Magdalene M. Zier ’16 received the prize for her thesis in History and Literature, which focused on anti-lynching plays by African American playwrights from the early 20th century. Zier also staged the productions with the help of the American Repertory Theater, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Law School.

“It was one of those moments where things serendipitously fit together,” Zier said.

Also among the prize’s awardees is Rhodes Scholar Rivka B. Hyland ’16. A Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations concentrator, Hyland’s winning thesis discusses the relationship between early Christian and Islamic theology.

“Writing a thesis is unlike any experience I’ve had academically or otherwise... long parts of it are these crippling periods of self-doubt, and a big part of the process is learning to moderate that with reason,” Hyland said. “So it’s just a huge affirmation to receive the Hoopes.”

Winners of the prize receive $4,000 in addition to have their winning papers bound and available at Lamont Library for the next two years. The prize also comes with a $1,500 honorarium for the advisers.

Approximately 75 faculty members from across FAS divisions were readers for the award this year, according to Secretary of the Faculty Susan L. Lively. Lively said that the involved faculty typically make up three subcommittees with one devoted to science and engineering, another to arts and humanities, and the third to the social sciences.

The full list of winners may be found here.

—Staff writer Brittany N. Ellis can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @britt_ellis10.


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