67 Undergraduates Win Hoopes Prizes

UPDATED: May 10, 2017 at 1:36 a.m.

The College notified sixty-seven undergraduates on Thursday that they had received the 2017 Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, which recognizes students for excellence in research and scholarly work.

Awarded annually by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Hoopes Prize is funded by the estate of Thomas T. Hoopes, Class of 1919. According to its website, the award strives honor students by “recognizing, promoting, honoring, and rewarding excellence in the work of undergraduates and their capabilities and skills in any subject.” Though several winning projects were senior theses or senior projects, the award is open to any undergraduate student at the College.

“I was really excited, really happy, and it’s really nice to know that my work paid off in this way,” said History of Science concentrator Udodiri R. Okwandu ’17. “It’s really nice to know that the committee and other people thought that my work and my research question was worth awarding in this way.”

This year’s Hoopes recipients span multiple departments, interests, and concentrations.


Statistics concentrator Yunhan Xu ’17 was awarded the prize for her work employing numbers and statistical analysis in understanding literature, specifically the "Aeneid.”

“I started studying Latin in middle school and then completed a citation here,” Xu said, “so it was really exciting and natural to combine these two disciplines that have been so meaningful to me.”

Other recipients said they held a meaningful connection with their work. David J. Kurlander ’17, a History and Literature concentrator who examined the history of malt liquor in his winning work, said he was deeply interested in the subject matter.

“I had picked a subject that I cared about and one that I didn’t know that much about, but I cared about the era and I care a lot about consumer history and also have consumed some malt liquor and been around malt liquor,” Kurlander said. “I was wondering for awhile now what the story was, and how it all happened.”

The winning projects also included creative and long term works. T. Mattea Mrkusic ’17, who designed a special concentration in Environmental Studies and Human Rights, created a self-described “creative storytelling project about the Pacific island of Kiribati,” and detailed the effects of climate change on its people through a podcast, photography exhibit, online outreach, and written paper.

“The greatest myth of a thesis is that it’s a singular project undertaken by one individual,” Mrkusic said. “It’s really supported by advisors, friends who will deliver hot chocolate to you at 3 a.m., parents, and, in my case, the power of my interviewees.”

In order to be eligible to apply for the award, students must be nominated by their project advisors. Advisors receive a $1,500 honorarium award, and the winning student receives $5,000, an increase from previous years. In addition, winning papers are bound and made available in Lamont Library for two years.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: May 10, 2017

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Hoopes Prize winners received $4,000. In fact, they received $5,000, an increase from previous years.


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