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Library research awards go to 4 students

Published on May 17, 2023

Library research awards go to 4 students


Library Research Award winners left to right: Noelle Ciccarelli, Gianna DeSante, Nicholas Berthod and Marcus Grant

Two Eastern Connecticut State University students won undergraduate research awards from the J. Eugene Smith Library this spring, and two others were cited for honorable mention.

Nicholas Berthod, who majors in history and social studies and secondary education, won in the first year/sophomore category for his history project, “Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali: How the Legacy of One Champion Lives on Through Another.”

Berthod was interested in the ways that the story of Jack Johnson, who became the first black heavyweight boxing champion in 1908, could be seen in the story of the better-known boxer, Muhammad Ali. In Johnson’s “Fight of the Century” in 1910 — a name also used in 1971 by Ali in fighting Joe Frazier — Johnson defeated white boxer James L. Jeffries, triggering race riots across the United States.

“The more I learned about Jack Johnson, the more I thought it was a shame that his name was not nearly as well remembered as Muhammad Ali,” said Berthod, who has trained in mixed martial arts and boxing, activities that spurred his interest in studying combat sports.

The junior/senior category winner was junior Marcus Grant for “Classing Coraline: An Intersectional Look at Class and Age in Neil Gaiman’s Novella.” His work took place in an independent study last fall that was later expanded to include author Lucy Clifford’s book, “The New Mother,” an inspiration for Gaiman’s book, “Coraline.” Grant presented his work at two conferences this past fall and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research this spring, as well as at Eastern’s CREATE conference.

“Overall, I can say that the research process is hard but beautiful. There’s a lot of having to write and then rewrite and then rewrite again in order to make your work as clear as possible,” he said.

Nicholas Berthod, winner in the first year/sophomore category, with Janice Wilson, director of library services

Noelle Ciccarelli, who won an honorable mention, with Janice Wilson, director of library services

Gianna DeSante, who won an honorable mention for her psychology research, with Janice Wilson, director of library services

Marcus Grant, junior/senior category winner, with Janice Wilson, director of library services

Honorable mentions went to senior Gianna DeSante, a senior and a psychology major, for “Associations Between Parental Warmth, Control and Rejection and Child Depression: Interactions of Child Sex and Sibling Order,” and to developmental psychology major Noelle Ciccarelli, a senior, for “Individual and. Group Influences on Social Loafing Tendencies.” 

DeSante looked at the relationships between parenting style and depression symptoms in young children, and examined the moderating role of sibling order and the child’s sex. Her data came from a sample of 145 families from the Jacksonville, IL, area. “Results from this study could have implications for better parenting practices in the future,” she said.

Ciccarelli assessed the social loafing behaviors of 75 college students. Social loafing is the reduced effort put forth when working in a group compared with working alone, she noted. 

“Consistent with previous research, we found evidence for the occurrence of social loafing in groups containing more than four participants,” she said. “Larger groups generated fewer ideas on average per person.” The results provide evidence for an optimal group size to avoid social loafing, she said.

awardees with faculty

Awardees, front row, from left: Nicholas Berthod, Marcus Grant, and Gianna DeSante. Among their supporters, back row from left: Scott Moore, associate professor of history; President Elsa Núñez; Allison Speicher, associate professor of English and Janice Wilson, director of library services.

“It is always so rewarding to recognize and reward our students for their outstanding research and use of library resources and further serves as a tribute to the dedication of Eastern’s teaching faculty who encourage and support their students,” said Janice Wilson, director of library services.

She chaired the awards committee from 2011 through 2018, and librarian Angela Walker has been committee chair since 2019. The faculty supporting this year’s winners were Scott Moore, associate professor of history (Berthod’s project), Allison Speicher, associate professor of English (for Grant), T. Caitlin Vasquez-O’Brien, assistant professor of psychological science (DeSante’s project) and Madeleine Fugère, professor of psychological science (Ciccarelli).

Written by Lucinda Weiss