Student award recipients announced

Each year, the School recognizes a group of outstanding students for their achievement in academics as well as a number of attributes that contribute to professional success. Congratulations to this year's honorees!

Bryce Allen Award for Reference Services

Presented to Graceanne Roach

GraceAnne Roach exemplifies the spirit of Bryce Allen through her passion and facility for helping our patrons with their reference and information needs and her mentorship of her graduate assistant colleagues at the desk and in instruction. She possesses a remarkable ability to relate to patrons—whether that person was an undergraduate or an emerita/us professor—and establish a relationship with them. They respond to her warm, calm, and empathetic demeanor and she is able to guide even the most stressed or irascible patron through the process of solving their information need. All of her interactions at the desk are infused with instruction and information literacy, and her explanations are consistently thorough and clear. Additionally, she has exhibited true leadership during this current time of crisis, continuing to mentor other GAs through the chat software and teaching all the Research & Information Services GAs how to work with our classes that they were going to teach face-to-face and now are online. She developed training materials and worked with them in online meetings in order to ensure that our patrons are still getting a high level of service and support.

Berner-Nash Memorial Award

Presented to Garrick Sherman

Garrick Sherman's thesis is titled "Document expansion and language model re-estimation for information retrieval." As Garrick explains in this work, document expansion is the process of augmenting the text of a document with text drawn from one or more other documents. This thesis proposes a consistent language modeling approach to document expansion of full length documents. It also explores the use of one or more external document collections as sources of data during the expansion process. The proposed methods prove successful in improving retrieval effectiveness over baselines. This research makes several concrete contributions, both theoretical and practical, to the field of information retrieval: First, it contributes a novel language modeling-based document expansion retrieval model that outperforms baselines with statistical significance. Second, it contributes a deeper understanding of the processes induced by document expansion by carefully analyzing the effects of the document expansion model, particularly with respect to the role of document topicality on language model change. Third, it involved the production of a new dataset of document topic annotations, published online. Finally, in exploring methods for optimizing the application of document expansion, this research uncovered fundamental theoretical limitations of optimizing retrieval models more generally. Overall, this work advances research and potential applications in the field of information retrieval.

Anne M. Boyd Award/Beta Phi Mu

Presented to Ben Chiewphasa

Ben Chiewphasa is awarded the Anne M. Boyd/Beta Phi Mu Award in recognition of his commitment to developing as a professional, ability to relate to other people, and leadership qualities. He has shown exceptional academic performance in classes ranging from Foundations of Data Curation to Instructional Strategies and Techniques for Information Professionals.  Ben was selected as an ARL Diversity Scholar and received the 2019 W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) of the American Library Association. He is currently a government information librarian, assistant professor at the University of Montana, a public research institution. As part of the Federal Depository Library Program, he functions as the Regional Depository Coordinator for the state of Montana. His professional and research interests include data information literacy, research data support services in social sciences librarianship, community engagement efforts in academic libraries, and the dissemination of government information.

Edith Harris Camp Award

Presented to Hila Kelly

Hila Kelly is an exemplary student, engaged conversationalist and critical thinker. She has a focused, caring spirit that brings out the best in her contemporaries in and out of the classroom. She explored every corner of each new idea within the exhibition design and installation course and created conversations around the unknowns. She listens to and challenges her classmates with a patient, curious and appreciative demeanor. Her focus on making museum exhibits more accessible and open to all added to existing strategies to how we perceive a functional exhibition space. Hila is currently working as an archivist at the Biodiversity Heritage Library on campus and exemplifies what the Edith Harris Camp Award is about. She takes an active role in supporting and educating others with an intellect, honesty and compassion for the literary and artistic communities she engages.

Jane B. and Robert B. Downs Professional Promise Award

Presented to Lauren Camarillo

Lauren has emerged as a thoughtful spokesperson for a new conception of literacy that is enriched by an attentiveness to the concerns of community members who have been traditionally underserved, including those with undocumented immigration status. She is developing important insights as to how librarianship might be reconfigured to serve a changing and global society. In recognition of her potential, Lauren was named Kaleidoscope Diversity Scholar by the Association of Research Libraries and Spectrum Scholar by the American Library Association. Lauren’s serious and committed engagement with questions of literacy, librarianship, power, and social inequities suggests a very promising future for her and the profession.

Entrepreneurial Promise Award

Presented to Kati Haskins

During her time at the iSchool, Kati Haskins held the position of graduate assistant at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) Library, a special library at the University serving first responders, where she worked in reference, patron education, acquisitions, and current awareness services. She also worked under the supervision of Jennifer Teper to hire, train, and supervise a team of six student workers to process and rehouse the Woodward advertising collection, the largest advertising collection in the country. During the Fall 2018 semester, Kati enjoyed a mentorship with Leora Siegel, Senior Director of the Lenhardt Library at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where she increased her knowledge of special libraries, museum libraries, and special collections. While at the IFSI Library, Kati created a Women in the Fire Service LibGuide and continued to update it as new resources became available. She co-curated (July-August, 2019) a photography exhibit, Illinois' Fallen Firefighters: Past and Present, at the Main Library using photographs from the IFSI Library's photo archives. During the 2018-2019 school year, she completed several bookbinding projects, including artist book forms and sewn case bindings in her class on conservation and preservation for special collections. One of her creations was exhibited at the IFSI Library reference desk, where it received much positive attention from patrons and IFSI staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kati has served the IFSI Library and its patrons remotely, supervising iSchool graduate hourly students and co-creating an information literacy LibGuide and poster, both related to IFSI’s unique collections. Before coming to the University of Illinois, Kati worked in the rare book trade as a bookseller and as a cataloger at an auction house where she was responsible for writing catalog descriptions for rare books, ephemera, artwork, and other materials. Post-graduation, Kati envisions herself working in special collections or a fine arts library, or bringing her librarian expertise to some form of entrepreneurship.

Faculty Special Award of Merit

Presented to Fernanda Schaefer

Fernanda Schaefer came to the iSchool with a degree in advertising and a drive to work in the media and entertainment industry. Her class participation and commitment to the culture of intellectual inquisitiveness, quality of service, and an unalterable dedication to verification of the authority of information sources demonstrates the positive characteristics desired in the information professions, especially in the profession of librarianship. Fernanda created her own path to becoming a metadata specialist by getting hands-on experience in three very different positions: applying film and television metadata in an archives environment at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, digital object metadata in a library environment for Illiniois’ IDEALS repository, and music metadata in a corporate environment at Polyvinyl Records. Fernanda jumped in to technical aspects of the field - from her first-semester project on machine learning to metadata to using Bash scripts and SQL statements to update music metadata. The faculty of the iSchool at Illinois recognizes Fernanda with a 2020 Faculty Special Award of Merit.

Faculty Special Award of Merit

Presented to Morgan Sherlock

Throughout her time with the school, Morgan Sherlock contributed to its culture and community with passion, engagement, and enthusiasm, qualities that led to a professional position long before graduation.  She is inquisitive and curious, always seeking to know more and to understand how libraries can best serve their communities, whether pre-teens or college faculty.  As one of her faculty describes her "wonderful community-led library focus. She finds outreach not as the end-goal, but as a starting point and potential tool helping identify the boundaries and barriers to public library entry for those left behind. She is determined to build stronger partnerships through engagement in, with, and for community, thereby building a stronger library to serving the many intersecting communities within their sphere." Whether making recommendations for how libraries might support refugee populations or writing job descriptions of community engagement librarians (at an imagined Seussville Public Library!) she is always intellectually engaged, asking great questions, probing possibilities, and always asking if there was a way to improve. In fact, in her imagined job description she asked for candidates who are "passionate about engaging information seekers from all backgrounds." She would be that candidate herself.

Herbert Goldhor Award for Public Librarianship

Presented to Whitney Parrillo

Whitney Parrillo came to the iSchool with several years of experience in public libraries in Illinois (Astoria, Silvis) and she is currently director of Hutchinson Memorial Library in Randolph, Wisconsin. Her interests include library administration and youth services and she has experience with library programming, grant writing, and budgeting.  Through courses such as Administration and Management of Libraries and Information Centers, Literature and Resources for Young Adults, and Adult Popular Literature, she enhanced her abilities to serve her community as a public library director.  As noted by Maria Bonn, Whitney’s contributions to the required course on Libraries, Information and Society “were stellar and always informed by her thoughtful approach to her experience as a public librarian.”  Whitney Parrillo clearly fulfills the expectations of the Herbert Goldhor Award for Public Librarianship with her demonstrated interest and excellence in public librarianship.

Peggy Harris Award

Presented to Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson, in her capacity as the Graduate Student Hourly Worker for the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Grant project, CARLI Counts, exemplifies the qualities of the Peggy Harris Award. CARLI Counts is a team-based continuing education immersion program that features teams of Illinois academic librarians who come together in person twice to learn assessment skills for the purposes of advocacy and service development. Approximately 50 CARLI (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois) member library staff from all over the state and from many different library types are involved in each cohort. The program features outside speakers, webinars, and creating conference posters in addition to individual participants' projects. In short, hundreds of details are involved in making the program successful, ranging from reserving hotel rooms to working with many different campus units to supporting individual participants' needs. Taylor was unfailing in her dedication to ensuring that participants had the support and all information that they needed. She responded to hundreds of emails asking about logistics, timelines, and requests for special needs. Her care, kindness, good humor, and follow through were genuine and shone through in every interaction with our members. She routinely volunteered to shuttle people around, stay late, come in early, and help people get through the project in whatever way she could. Furthermore, she never got impatient or let details slip. Taylor is a fine example of the kind of student of who exemplifies true public service and care for her constituency.

Health Sciences Information Management Award

Presented to Luesoni Johnson

Luesoni came into the program with a master of arts in biology and secured an assistantship at Grainger Engineering Library where her background in STEM was immediately put to use. She then leveraged her science background and experience at Grainger to do a Practicum in the brand new Carle Illinois College of Medicine in a curriculum mapping project to assist faculty in identifying important resources and collections for their courses. In addition to this experience she worked as a graduate assistant in the Carle Illinois Virtual Library and added and identified topics and resources in Medicine, Biomedicine and Health, reorganizing the LibGuides to improve web accessibility and fixing cataloging issues with the library.  Luesoni is curious, thoughtful and hardworking and she will be an asset to the field of health sciences librarianship wherever she ends up.

Kathryn Luther & William T Henderson Award

Presented to Monica Hoh

During her time at the iSchool, Monica Hoh committed herself to not only achieving academically but also fostering multiple communities of practices and community spaces. She is the quintessential community organizer, creating opportunities for people to connect and work together on areas of mutual interest and commitment. Whether it was helping to lead a formal student organization, working to re-establish and then fostering solidarity in the iSchool Students of Color, serving as an iSchool Student Ambassador, organizing the weekly informal crafting and chatting gathering, volunteering with Books to Prisoners, etc., Monica continuously uses her leadership and librarianship skills to serve and develop her community.

Kathryn Luther & William T Henderson Award

Presented to Jimi Jones

Jimi Jones has excelled here at the iSchool, as both a MS/LIS student and a doctoral student. He has also excelled in serving both the nation and the University of Illinois community. While a master's student here, he helped the Main Library develop an audio/visual self-assessment program for the Conservation department. He also began teaching a class in audio/visual preservation for the iSchool, which he continued to teach for us after graduating and going to work for the Library of Congress/ Packard campus, where he assisted with their audio/visual conservation program.  Since completing his PhD, Jimi has accepted a position with the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning here at the University of Illinois, where the campus, and our students, will continue to benefit from his expertise. As a conservator, an archivist, and an educator, he has devoted himself to assisting others, and perfectly embodies the Beta Phi Mu motto, Aliis inserviendo consumor.

Information Systems/Technologies Award

Presented to Pranali Mane

Pranali Mane is ideal for the Information Systems/Technologies Award based on her project work at the COUNTRY Financial DigitaLab. Pranali worked as a Data Analyst for the DigitaLab for 3 semesters. During that time, her skillset gave her the opportunity to work on a variety of projects crossing both data and software development. One specific project that Pranali led was an RPA BOT Web template. This project increases business intelligence capabilities, revolving around chat bots that COUNTRY Financial has created. At the click of one link you have access to all the information on these bots, including but not limited to, metrics of successful and failed tasks. This has an impact on ROI because you can now very easily and quickly decide to stop/pause a BOT. This project saves money on licensing and authenticates users on one level instead of multiple levels. This application should be in production by the end of year! This is just one example of many projects that Pranali was involved with, others include Cross-Sell Propensity, New Business Risk using Monte Carlo Simulations, Tableau Dashboard Governance, Predictive Model Standard Report, and Model Explanation Research. Pranali was an outstanding intern who is very skilled in understanding the business needs and translating them into valuable deliverables for the organization.

Information Systems/Technologies Award

Presented to Eileen Lopez

Eileen Lopez has been recommended for the Information Systems/Technologies Award for her outstanding academic achievement and research engagement in translating the design and research of information technologies to promote health and well-being through taking research assistantship, practicum and independent study. Eileen has been working in a multi-institutional project with faculty from the iSchool at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois at Chicago to develop the digital health solution to promote physical activities for sedentary older adults in the underserved communities of Chicago suburbs. She demonstrates her excellent intellectual capacities, communication skills, work ethics, perseverance and passion in bringing research in information technologies to create positive impact to our society. Her contributions to the research as well as her enthusiasm in promoting health equity through information systems and technologies have been highly recognized by all the faculty and colleagues across institutions. Besides research activities, Eileen has shown her excellent leadership through actively engaging in iSchool activities, such as serving as the vice president of ASIS&T student chapter and student leadership graduate assistant at iSchool.

iSchool Alumni Association Student Award

Presented to Rosemary Froeliger

While studying for her master's degree at the iSchool, Rosemary Froeliger was a graduate assistant in reference services at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) Library. Throughout her tenure there, she worked tirelessly to ensure that Illinois firefighters received the information resources they need to serve the public. Rosemary provided excellent remote services to volunteer firefighters who may never have the opportunity to visit the IFSI Library as well as in-person service to firefighters attending IFSI classes and hands-on training. Rosemary also oversaw the library's budget- and receipt-tracking and reporting, organized travel within the United States and abroad to conferences for library staff, and worked with vendors to order library and archives supplies. She trained an iSchool graduate hourly student to assume her responsibilities upon her graduation and continually updated and improved the Library Student Handbook. Working remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak, Rosemary has monitored the library email and phone, developed the FY2021 budget, created digital files on working remotely for the Student Handbook, and is co-authoring an information literacy guide on IFSI Library resources and services, all while sheltering in place in Wisconsin! Rosemary says she volunteered at her public library for years but became passionate about libraries while employed as an undergraduate at the circulation desk of UW-Whitewater's Andersen Library. "My passion evolved from loving books . . . to assisting patrons and providing quality information service. My favorite part of my job . . . was seeing someone's look of understanding, appreciation, or excitement after I helped a patron locate an item, answer a research question, or just simply learn how to format a Word Document. I was . . . drawn to this field by . . . the simple day-to-day moments when I saw the positive influence I had on others as I connected them to the content they needed. I knew I wanted to dedicate my career to helping others and to showing that, not only are libraries a valuable resource for information, but that anyone, no matter their background or educational needs, could belong and be welcomed there."

Frances B. Jenkins Award

Presented to Emily Benton

Emily Benton exhibits great potential as a science librarian. As an undergraduate student, Emily minored in plant science, and throughout her two years in the iSchool program, she has held a graduate assistantship at the Funk ACES Library, which is the life sciences library on campus. As a Graduate Assistant, she has made a concentrated effort to connect her work to science and science librarianship, including creating science-related exhibits promoting fungi and insect collections on campus, and highlighting Funk ACES Library science librarians through a social media campaign in April 2020. During her assistantship, she requested opportunities to teach scientific databases and excelled at creating lesson plans for both new and seasoned learners. Her educational background and work experience give Emily a solid foundation for a career in science librarianship. Emily also demonstrates her interest in science librarianship in her continued quest to learn more. She seeks out new tools, databases, and other resources scientists may use, and if she is unfamiliar, she takes it upon herself to find someone with expertise. Her gregarious personality and the energy she applies to everything she does are infectious to her colleagues and students alike.  Emily's educational background and graduate assistantship experience, coupled with her passion for the sciences and science librarianship, indicate strong potential for professional success in science librarianship.

Alice Lohrer Award for Literature and Library Services for Youth

Presented to Kiri Palm

I am so pleased to be able to nominate Kiri Palm for this award, said Jill Gengler. I have gotten to know Kiri through their work at the iSchool's Help Desk and their spirit of warm helpfulness always reminds me of Professor Christine Jenkins' reminders to students in youth services to always be "positive problems solvers." Kiri is unfailingly cheerful and supportive and their work lifts the spirits of our shared community. The Alice Lohrer Award is given to an iSchool student who shows outstanding promise in the field of literature and library services for youth. Beyond taking classes and working at the Help Desk and in the Instructional Technology and Design office, Kiri has been involved in several iSchool organizations, including the Progressive Librarians Guild student group, serving on the leadership board. They have participated in the Queer Library Alliance and helped create their zine, "To Be Perfectly Queer." Kiri has also written reviews for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, a role they have found to be especially fulfilling.  Kiri has participated in the iSchool Storytelling Festival and in the recent Master's Student Showcase, focusing on children's literature with a presentation entitled "Sparkle Boys and Helpful Rabbits: Genderqueer Representation in Children's Picture Books." Kiri also maintains an impressive and engaging blog of their work in order to share their love of the profession. Rachel Magee writes that "Kiri has been highly engaged in multiple youth services courses, and their project on genderqueer representations in youth literature has grown from a class assignment to a larger scale, long-term passion project. Their engagement, vision, and thoughtfulness for working with youth is impressive."

Hazel C. Rediger Award

Presented to Annabel Pinkney

During her time at the iSchool, Annabel has developed an exciting profile that cuts across the book arts, book conservation, and the study of book history. Her experiences in the lab have enriched classroom discussions and augmented her academic pursuits in creative ways. Likewise, Annabel applies a sophisticated understanding of the historical record to her practice of conservation. It is for her keen attention to questions related to the transmission of knowledge and her enduring commitment to the conservation of library materials that Annabel Pinkney is recognized with the Hazel C. Rediger Award.

Joseph Rediger Librarian as Humanist Award

Presented to Kaylen Dwyer

Kaylen Dwyer is the consummate humanist. She inquires deeply, seeks to understand the human condition and the multitude of relationships, and wants to better her community and society. She does this all in appreciation for and with a critical eye to the impact of technology on the humanist enterprise. She brings her vision to librarianship and is poised to bring new ideas and practices to the field. Kaylen will do this thoughtfully, reflectively, and with an appreciation for uniquely humanist perspective. She is the modern humanist.

Social Justice Award

Presented to Cynthia Medrano

Cynthia Medrano, embodies the heart and soul of this award through her dedication and tireless advocacy for those whose information needs are ignored or simply forgotten. From her first semester at the iSchool, Cynthia’s goals, to enhance library services for Spanish-speaking and Latinx immigrant communities, have guided her. From her tireless advocacy as President of the Students of Color Group, to her engagements at the Multicultural Center in Rantoul, a space that provides childcare for migrant agricultural workers and their families, the spirit of equity and justice animates her contributions. During her time at the iSchool, she coordinated STEM workshops at the Rantoul Multicultural Center. As recipient of the student award for the XXXIII International Librarians' Colloquium in Guadalajara, she shared her insights about these efforts. Her generous engagement with members of the iSchool community extended to the classroom through her thoughtful, patient, and critical insights. Her willingness to share her perspectives on class topics was often revelatory. She demonstrated both facility with, and a willingness to explain essential frameworks such as critical imagination, radical empathy, and restorative justice. In this, she enriched our community by broadening the perspectives and understandings of those around her. Cynthia brings much-needed hope and light into this world. She is among the vanguard who will help create a more equitable and just world.

Yingbo Zhou Memorial Award

Presented to Mingyan Gong

Mingyan Gong embodies the Yingbo Zhou Memorial Fund Award based on her drive and excitement to help others. Mingyan (Coco) always has a smile on her face and has been a breath of fresh air for the DigitaLab at Country Financial.  From the time she was hired, we were impressed with her positive attitude. Coco is a software developer intern and while she takes her work very seriously, she also takes the time to encourage others and has made a positive impact on the DigitaLab. Coco has been instrumental in several corporate projects from being on a team that re-platformed web services to a new cloud platform—saving the company thousands of dollars—to being a team leader on redesigning a mobile application, inserting annotated Drone images directly into COUNTRY systems for use by the Claims department. In addition to the project work, Coco is a friend to everyone in the DigitaLab. We have a very diverse group of interns, with up to 80% being international students and she makes each of them feel at ease by her friendship, drive to do her best, and genuine concern about other people. You will often see a group of the interns' pile into her car for lunch or to go get ice cream! 


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