Dartmouth Students Win High Commendations in New International Academic Award Competition

By Amelia Raether

Five Dartmouth students were selected as “Highly Commended” entrants in the 2013 Undergraduate Awards competition sponsored by the Government of Ireland, ranking in the top ten percent in various academic categories and earning international recognition as top scholars in their fields.  The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s only cross-disciplinary academic awards program that identifies and recognizes students at the undergraduate level whose work indicates that they are on track to become the leading thinkers and problem solvers of their generation.  

Of the fourteen Dartmouth students who submitted work, Grace Afsari-Mamagani '13, Troy Dildine '13, Jacqueline Donohoe '13, Tausif Noor '14, and Laura Bryn Sisson '13 were honored for their innovative approaches and excellence in world-class research.  Their top-recognized work competed with submissions from 184 academic institutions across 26 countries, including Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Stanford, Caltech, MIT, St. Andrew's and Trinity College Dublin.

Under the patronage of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, the Undergraduate Awards is a prestigious international academic awards program that invites students from certain top universities around the world to submit their theses or research work.

Two winners are selected in each of 22 categories are flown to Dublin, Ireland for the annual Undergraduate Awards Global Summit to share their research and network with government officials and other leaders. Their work is also published in an annual academic journal, and they become members of the Undergraduate Awards alumni network.

The top ten percent of entrants in each category are honored as Highly Commended scholars and also invited to participate in the Summit.

Afsari-Mamagani '13 and Sisson '13 both ranked at the top of the Literature field having each written senior honors theses in the English Department at Dartmouth. Afsari-Mamagani's research focused on the relationship between computer-mediated community and sincerity in interpersonal interaction through literature. Focusing on authors Zadie Smith and Jennifer Egan, she examined the way they use digital platforms such as text messaging, Twitter, email and PowerPoint in their work and the extent to which literary sincerity is maintained through what she calls "cyborg fiction."

Sisson '13 explored gender in Milton's angel characters in Paradise Lost as a final project for Dartmouth English Professor Thomas Luxon. Sisson also presented her award-winning paper at the Plymouth State Medieval and Renaissance conference last spring. 

Jacqueline Donohoe '13, whose senior thesis received an award from the History Department at Dartmouth in addition to being recognized by the Undergraduate Awards panel, examined gender in the Pre-Raphaelite Medieval Revival between 1848 and 1898, offering a new, contradicting view to the commonly accepted portrayal of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as progressive and idealistic.

Current Dartmouth senior Tausif Noor '14 was recognized in the Media and the Arts category for a final research paper he wrote for Professor Allen Hockley's course on Contemporary Asian Art. Noor focused on the work of Indian-American artist Chitra Ganesh and its relationship to philosopher Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection.

Dartmouth's scholars excelled in the sciences as well as the humanities. Troy Dildine '13, received praise for his senior honors thesis on the effects of race and race bias on motor imitation. Measuring how students of one race imitated finger movements of same race and other race hands, Dildine found behavioral and electro-cortical differences correlated to increased race bias.

Troy Dildine '13 presents his thesis work at the President's Undergraduate Research Symposium in Berry LibraryTroy Dildine '13 presents his research thesis at the President's Undergraduate Research Symposium in Berry Library.

Dildine '13 is continuing research in his field as a Research Associate at a psychology and neuroscience laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Afsari-Mamagani '13 is currently pursuing a Master's degree in digital humanities at New York University. Noor '14 is building on his previous work to write a senior honors thesis in Art History on contemporary South Asian art.


Interested in applying for the 2014 Undergraduate Awards? The competition is open for submissions. Find more information here: http://www.undergraduateawards.com/