Hulsman Undergraduate Library Research Award Winners 2023

The Jim and Mary Lois Hulsman Undergraduate Library Research Award program recognizes excellence in undergraduate research that incorporates the use of University Libraries resources and demonstrates sophisticated information literacy skills. Student award winners receive a cash prize  – $500 for 1st place, $300 for 2nd place, $200 for 3rd place – and recognition for their outstanding efforts. Submissions are posted in the UNM Digital Repository.

The College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences sincerely thank UNM Alumni, Jim and Mary Lois Hulsman, for supporting our student recognition and engagement efforts. We are grateful and celebrate Mr. and Mrs. Hulsman for generously donating nearly $1 million to our college since 2007. 


Excerpts below are lightly edited. View the full submissions in the Digital Repository.

Advanced Researcher Category


image of Anna Borders

First Place

Anna Borders
How Pasta Unified Italy

Anna Borders is an undergraduate student and Regents' Scholar at the University of New Mexico. She is pursuing a degree in International Studies and Languages with minors in Political Science and Honors Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts. Her time studying abroad in Italy and France formed her academic focus on comparative gastronomy.

excerpt from Anna Borders' submission

"As explained above, my topic went from “what pasta is each region known for?” to “what significance did pasta have on the formation of Italian culture?” In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with the disagreements amongst Italians about the true home of each pasta and why each pasta was more important than another. This led me to a very thorough search of Italian history, conflict, and pasta trade. As I discovered the integral role that pasta played in cultures across the Italian peninsula, I realized that pasta was not only a common thread throughout the peninsula, but also something that allowed the legacy of the people to carry on through centuries. Ultimately, the idea that pasta aided in the social unification of Italy was born."

excerpt from Rachele Duke's letter of support

"[Anna's] intention to analyze the topic in a variety of cultural, social, geographical and political modes aroused my curiosity and I had no doubt that Anna would leave no stones unturned in the pursuit of the final result she envisioned. She kept me appraised of every new material she discovered that could support her thesis by stopping by at office hours to discuss every minute detail of her research. Even as a native of Italy I was fascinated by her diligence in composing the final paper and by the meticulous arrangement of every chapter. ...I have taught at UNM for 32 years, and I can frankly say that few students had the level of passion and commitment that Anna demonstrated in this project. Although she’s still an undergraduate, she possesses the drive and the stamina of a graduate student selecting the topic for her research and exploring all the means available to help her pursue the final outcome to her complete satisfaction" 

Emerging Researcher Category


photo of Michael Chavez

First Place

Michael A. Chavez

Women, Nature, and Culture: Critical Ecofeminist Theory in Listening Woman

Michael Chavez is a Sophomore at the University of New Mexico, where he is a double major in English and East Asian Studies. After graduating, he plans to attend graduate school, with the goal of becoming an English professor at a Japanese university. In his free time, he enjoys language study and spending time with his husband and two dogs. He is grateful for this opportunity to shine a light on important issues faced by Native people within our community.

excerpt from Michael Chavez's submission

Initially, we researched various schools of literary criticism in class to get an idea of what approach we might take when examining the novel. At first, I was torn between ecocriticism and feminist criticism, but found several texts through outside research describing ecofeminist criticism, which I felt fit the subject matter perfectly and allowed me to examine all the aspects of the text I had planned to. From there, I attempted to find other scholars to engage with on the topic, but struggled to find others who had written critically about Hillerman’s work. As such, I had to take a somewhat different approach than I had initially planned and apply more broad writings about ecofeminist criticism to my specific topic. Learning the details and significance of the elements of Navajo culture depicted in the novel from Jolene Manus at the Center for Southwest Research then provided me with the context I needed to synthesize ecofeminism with techniques of Indigenous Literary Criticism as well. 

excerpt from Sarah Hernandez's letter of support

"This semester, most students focused on one school of literary criticism. Usually, this was an example we had already discussed in class such as feminism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, or ecocriticism. However, Michael made an innovative decision, combining his interest in both feminism and ecocriticism to analyze Hillerman’s Listenting Woman. Women and land are dominant themes in the text. It was a very smart decision on Michael’s part to combine his interest in two schools of literary criticism to analyze and interpret the text through the lens of ecofeminist theory. Michael showed strong initiative by researching this theory on his own and applying it to his analysis of Hillerman’s novel. Through this lens, he was able to convincingly argue that Hillerman’s novel shows a lack of knowledge and respect for Navajo women and land. This is an important argument to make, as few literary scholars explore the damaging and pervasive stereotypes present in Hillerman’s work. In this paper (and in fact, all semester), Michael proved to be a strong ally to Native people and communities in the Southwest region."

photo of Kori Szabo SmithFirst Place

Kori Szabo-Smith

Too Male to Fail: How Gender Disparity Manifests Within Owensboro's K-12 Education System Under the Status Quo

Kori Szabo-Smith is a junior studying Finance at the Anderson School of Management. Having been born in Kentucky, raised in New Jersey, and moved back to Kentucky in late adolescence, Kori has garnered a diverse suite of experiences of which he draws upon every day in his academic work. Prior to transferring to UNM in Fall 2022, Kori earned two Associates degrees and briefly studied in Missouri before the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the paradigm. For more than six years, Kori has served the speech and debate community as a competitor and judge across numerous statewide and regional circuits. In Spring 2018, Kori was awarded the Harlan Hamm Award for Outstanding Male Competitor by the Kentucky Forensics Association at the organization's annual state tournament. Outside of academics, Kori enjoys discovering new music, bowling, following current events, helping others succeed, and being an ardent tourist.

excerpt from Kori Szabo-Smith's submission
Ultimately, “Too Male to Fail” taught me that researching is an active process. In developing this project, I learned that it is not just about the sources I use, but also how I come to understand and interpolate them. If there is one clear theme regarding “Too Male to Fail,” whether it be the socioeconomic data from “Social Explorer” or any of the scholarly studies by themselves or anything in between, it is that my sources would not be anywhere near as effective if I did not dedicate the time to analyzing them and applying them in such a way to where they form one, cohesive narrative that is easily accessible to the audience. Likewise, as “Too Male to Fail” grew, I found that while diversity of sources is great, prioritization of specific sources over others is a necessary component of producing high quality research content.... In the end, finding sources is only the first step in a multifarious research process whose immense rewards can readily make or break an entire project.

excerpt from Ying Xu's letter of support

[Kori] has exemplified excellent research skills in the project. His research statement clearly identifies the issue of gender disparity in the k-12 education system in the local community, states a mixture of research methods combining scholarly, empirical, anecdotal, and local resources, and discusses the limitations of time restraints and the access to certain data... The student utilizes sources from government websites, school websites, newspaper articles, and personal interviews competently and effectively to support his analyses and discussion of the issue. Mr. Szabo-Smith has also demonstrated advanced skills in citing sources, synthesizing information, and analyzing a critical issue. Throughout the project, he consistently and correctly applied the MLA documentation and citations. I strongly recommend he be awarded the Library Research Award for his excellent work, advanced research skills, and his critical thinking in the project.


photo of daniel fengSecond Place

Daniel L. Feng

Cezanne’s Colors, Lines, and Perspectives of Mont Saint Victoire

Daniel is a freshman in the Combined BA/MD program and a Regent’s Scholar at UNM Studying Biochemistry and Health, Medicine and Human Values. He is passionate for the wonders of life and nature and plans to pursue medical school at UNM School of Medicine to practice in his home state of New Mexico. Aside from learning, he enjoys gardening, playing the clarinet, going on hikes, and spending time with his family. 

excerpt from Daniel Feng's submission
"I first had to think of a question of what the focus of my research paper was going to be about, and upon learning that Cezanne painted 30 variants of this landscape, my attention immediately moved to articles surrounding the painting itself and Cezanne’s usage of formal elements in the painting. After analyzing several articles and books on the subject, I began asking myself a few questions I wanted to answer for my research project, such as “what mediums did Cezanne use in his paintings and what expression did they invoke” and “why did Cezanne repaint this landscape so many times.” ... I learned how to search academic databases and libraries to help gather information for research purposes, and the proper way to cite their work in my bibliography. The UNM Library and JSTOR were great resources for me to find information related to the topic of my research project, and I’ll use these resources very commonly in the future for coursework."
excerpt from Lauren Norwood's letter of support
"[Daniel] was successful at creating thoughtful initial research questions. As he did more reading, Daniel did a great job of modifying and adding to his questions. Likewise, he did a good job of changing research strategies as needed. Like many students in this class, he began by searching for the painting he initially picked to write about. After realizing that he needed use broader search terms, he modified his approach and succeeded in finding resources. Additionally, he quickly recognized the need to expand his search beyond the UNM Library site, and started to use UNM’s online databases which yielded a wealth of results. After gathering sources, Daniel was able to read, digest, and synthesize the information within. ...Using formal, iconographic, and contextual analysis, in concert with the academic sources, and the words of the artist, Daniel produced a paper that demonstrates his ability to conduct original, collegiate level research."


photo of Lauren ReddingtonThird Place 

Lauren E. Reddington

Prometheus Bound by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders: Psychological and Physical Punishment

Lauren Reddington was born and raised in New Mexico and is in her third year at the University of New Mexico. She is working toward attaining her BFA in Art Studio. Some of her interests include reading, listening to music, expressing herself creatively through photography, and spending time with family and friends. She expects to graduate by the Spring of 2024 and plans on furthering her career in photography afterwards. Lauren would like to thank Ellie Kane for having confidence in Lauren and her work, and for pushing her to submit to the Hulsman Undergraduate Library Research Award.

except from Lauren Reddington's submission
"By the end of the semester, I was interested in Zeus as a character in the myth and how Rubens and Snyders brought Zeus’s maliciousness to light. As I did more research, I wanted to know more about Zeus’s methods of torture and how he used them to establish dominance. Furthermore, I wanted to investigate how Rubens and Snyders included that psychological torment when a painting is mainly physical imagery. How did Rubens and Snyders show how malicious Zeus was as the almighty god? What cultural elements did the artists include so that viewers understood how deep Prometheus’s punishment went? ... I first began by searching through Marilyn Stokstad’s book, Art History volume 2, for an artwork. Once I decided on a work, read through what she wrote about it and took notes. From there, I considered what information I still needed and what would be the best source to use to gather said information. I used both Google scholar and the Fine Arts Design Library at UNM to read up more on Rubens as an artist, the time period this was done in so I could understand social context, and essays people had already written on the artwork."
excerpt from Ellie Kane's letter of support
Lauren brought to bear all the skills she honed throughout the semester including library research, and formal and iconological analysis. She is a committed student and her hard work demonstrated that throughout the semester. Lauren explored the nuance in the depiction of Prometheus and delineated the visual impact of literal and

2023 Judges

Emerging Researcher Judges
Glenn Koelling (Chair)
Olivia Baca
Marcy Botwick
Janice Kowemy
Advanced Redearcher Judges
Stephanie Beene (Chair)
Izzy McMullin
Nadia Orozco-Sahi
Holly Surbaugh

2023 Committee Members

Mel Ribas (Co-Chair)
Amy Jankowski (Co-Chair)
Olivia Baca
Stephanie Beene
Marcy Botwick
Glenn Koelling
Nadia Orozco-Sahi
Holly Surbaugh