Student award recipients announced

Alma with cap

Each year, the School of Information Sciences 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 Ashlynn Maczko

Ashlynn Maczko embodies the goals of the Bryce Allen Award for Reference Services to honor a student who demonstrates a strong desire to help patrons. She has demonstrated her commitment to serving library patrons in the classroom and during her time working in the Communications Library. Assistant Professor Melissa Ocepek notes that her academic work was always exceptional and demonstrated a strong focus on considering the whole person in patron interactions. In one course, Ashlynn presented on how libraries can best serve survivors of domestic abuse, demonstrating a strong and considered passion. Her presentation was well-research, nuanced, and incredibly thoughtful about not only how to serve this population, but how to accurately and compassionately discuss domestic abuse.  There is little doubt that Ashlynn will go on to be an excellent librarian and serve her community, patrons, and the field well. 

Berner-Nash Memorial Award

Presented to Natã Barbosa

Natã Barbosa's thesis focuses on designing algorithmic interventions for social good in three distinct domains of data-driven economy (i.e., crowdsourcing, smart homes, and targeted ads). This thesis contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of information privacy and fair AI by (1) creating new predictive models of and user interfaces for algorithmic transparency, (2) having novel empirical findings (e.g., how people react to algorithmic transparency mechanisms), (3) creating novel tangible artefacts (e.g., a crowdsourcing framework for reducing sample biases, a functional system for explaining user profiling), and (4) providing practical insights on how to operationalize the recent theory of algorithmic realism and the research methodology of technology probes in privacy research. The research reported in this thesis has led to publications in top-tier venues and a patent application. The crowdsourcing framework has been used by a major crowdsourcing platform and the user profiling transparency system is being considered by a major Internet company. 

Anne M. Boyd Award/Beta Phi Mu

Presented to Hanh Hong Nguyen

Hanh Hong Nguyen's distinction is apparent in her detailed scholarly work, her contributions to the iSchool, and the unpretentious leadership skill she demonstrated in class. Her coursework demonstrated an ability to provide detailed, information-rich answers that cut right to the heart of the prompt without any wasted words. She supported all at the iSchool through her graduate assistantship at the IT Help Desk, where she was always quick to respond, explain things fully, and be at-the-ready at the start of class to check in. Hanh has the qualities of a thoughtful, subtle leader. In breakout groups, she did not dominate the discussion with her knowledge. Rather, she held back and allowed her groupmates to work things out. When the group hit upon a concept that they did not grasp, they relied on Hanh to lead them through it. She explained things deftly and with complete patience. Hanh is sure to find great success in her future endeavors.

Edith Harris Camp Award

Presented to Kristy Lueshen
Kristy Lueshen resonates with both the art and social justice commitment of the Edith Harris Camp Award. Her deep and nuanced understanding of the relationship between the technological and creative arts enlightens, intertwining both as a delicate thread. She researches as an artist, and has a deep interest in visual resources, evidenced by both her projects and courses. One example is a project where she closely examined how textile and fiber arts have been used historically as a tool of feminist political resistance; another was taking Visual Resources Curation and Arts Librarianship from the WISE consortium. Kristy's keen insights are welcomed—and needed—in the communities that are fortunate to call her colleague.

Jane B. and Robert B. Downs Professional Promise Award

Presented to Randi Proescholdt

Randi Proescholdt is awarded the Jane B. and Robert B. Downs Award, which goes to the MS/LIS candidate with the greatest professional promise. Randi came to the iSchool with experience in a natural history museum, archival processing, libraries, and the National Council for Preservation Education. During her master's, she gained professional experience in very competitive roles: she was metadata librarian intern at Argonne National Laboratory and Library of Congress Junior Fellow in the Digital Content Management section. On campus, Randi was selected to participate in a special project supporting the University Archives and Records and Information Management Services. Working primarily in an independent setting, Randi quickly gained intellectual control of innumerable sets of administrative records for the University. At the iSchool, the Information Quality Lab was lucky to have Randi as an assistant on several research projects over the past 18 months. When faced with difficult decisions, Randi has the quiet confidence to propose a well-thought-out solution that is based on data, not emotion, even if it is not the most popular approach. She clearly defines problems, thoughtfully analyzes a variety of viewpoints, provides support for her conclusions, and clearly and professionally explains her suggestions. Naturally soft spoken, she is nevertheless a persuasive and effective advocate for a controversial resolution. Randi has a rare combination of strong technical skills, strong writing skills, and clear thinking that will take her far in whatever she does.

Entrepreneurial Promise Award

Presented to Dhwani Parekh

Dhwani Parekh is a deserving winner of the Entrepreneurial Promise Award. Dhwani has embraced the opportunities of the MS in Information Management degree. She has used the classes and extracurricular opportunities to build on the knowledge and skills she obtained before joining us at the iSchool. She took Entrepreneurial IT Design in Fall 2020 and was a very active participant, engaging enthusiastically in all in-class and homework activities. She was a very active participant in discussing the weekly readings, considering how they related to her previous studies and work experiences, and how they could help us as individuals and teams in tackling hard real-life problems. She was especially interested in incorporating design thinking in her work, and how to apply knowledge to real life needs that people have, by designing and creating software, processes and experiences that will help people achieve their goals. Her project on designing an app to help people transitioning to a plant-based diet was extremely thoughtful and innovative, with features helping to address the challenges that people can have with the process. She has great empathy for people around her, which she can apply to identifying underlying needs that people have, and from there work towards practical deployable solutions. Dhwani has mastered the art of designing through talking–sharing interim ideas with people and learning more by how they react and comment in order to improve these ideas. She is an excellent and enthusiastic creative problem-solver, not afraid to take intellectual risks with her ideas. Dhwani can share her enthusiasm for ideas in an engaging way, which is such an important part of the entrepreneurial skill of enabling good new things to come into being.

Faculty Special Award of Merit

Presented to Vel (Tien-Yun) Wu

Vel (Tien-Yun) Wu exemplifies many of the ideals our MS/IM program seeks and aims to cultivate. He came to us from Taiwan with an Economics degree, a year of study in London, and two years' professional work in software development. In many courses, Vel was consistently in the top tier of students, working beyond requirements, always being highly engaged in class, and thinking deeply and creatively. His strengths include questioning commonly held beliefs and being willing to raise the occasional challenge to instructors too. Yet he is also respectful, modest, and aware of areas he needs to develop. He collaborated well with and befriended students from many nationalities and ethnic groups. In Information Modeling class, Vel's explanation of what led him here included, "Several disciplines were considered when choosing a master's degree to apply for: Business degrees offer opportunities to make connections but generally lack quantitative practices and tools to create new knowledge; Computer Science degrees are regarded as extremely competitive but do not sufficiently address the social injustices that plague our post-capitalist world–many of these are results of false information produced by malevolent groups in power and fed to the unaware. It is my belief that we stand a chance to confront and ultimately end such injustices by fighting said false information using scientific methods that generate truthful results understandable for the general public."

Herbert Goldhor Award for Public Librarianship

Presented to Eddie Kristan

Eddie Kristan is exceptionally committed to serving his community through public librarianship. Eddie progressed from his early years seeking refuge and educating himself at his local public library to supervising security at that same library. Because of his work there, he was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker even before completing his MS/LIS. The notice of his award calls out how he makes the library  "a safe place for the staff and roughly 1,800 patrons who seek its services every day, without losing sight of its value as a ‘community center for any and all information needs." The same spirit of empathy and service was a feature of his time in the classroom. He is now a reference librarian at that public library, where he has supported his community, with good humor and compassion, throughout this difficult pandemic year. All his work and his upbeat spirit clearly demonstrate his passion and talent for public librarianship.

Peggy Harris Award

Presented to Emily Wros

Emily Wros, graduate assistant for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), is the recipient of the Peggy Harris Award, an award given to the individual who most exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism, and a concern for others and for the welfare of the School. In June 2020, CARLI undertook a library services platform migration from Ex Libris' Voyager to Alma/Primo VE for 89 member libraries. These member libraries include the three University of Illinois libraries (Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana-Champaign), and other libraries around the state, some with only two or three staff members total to support this giant leap. CARLI was the administrator and coordinator for this effort among this diverse member group. This massive feat, accomplished on time and on budget, was successfully carried out because of a team that included Emily. The project was intensely pressure-filled, including hard deadlines and synchronization of member activities, and accomplished during a pandemic! Her care, devotion, and attention to member needs during the migration was exemplary. Members commented that during this time of intense stress, Emily—who was herself brand new—ensured that their questions were answered carefully and with kindness, important qualities when everyone feels unsure and is learning new skills. Thousands of mission-critical details are involved in making a transition such as this successful; Emily joined the CARLI staff at the beginning of the migration and jumped in with both feet, working alongside long-term staff to accomplish all necessary tasks. Emily was always willing to do what was asked with the utmost care and attention to member needs. She volunteered to take on critical jobs that were lengthy and repetitive. More than anything, however, she was unfailingly patient, helpful, and was always able to "put herself in our members' shoes," understanding innately that learning new skills in a pressure-filled environment can be extremely difficult for people who have known a system so well for so long. Emily is an outstanding example of the qualities of this award; she is a student who exemplifies true public service and a deep, empathetic care for her constituency.

Health Sciences Information Management Award

Presented to Caroline Delbourgo Patton

Caroline Delbourgo Patton is awarded the Health Sciences Information Management Award.  She came to the iSchool with deep experience: twelve years doing research and project management in the health sciences, including conducting systematic reviews and working with physicians as part of guideline development. As part of that work, she authored eight publications and is acknowledged for literature support in another ten. Her clear mission to impact health librarianship is evident throughout her exemplary coursework. For instance, in Information Organization and Access, she wrote about how open access publication might have little impact or worsen the limited access to medical journals in low-income countries and focused her final project on instruction techniques or approaches for teaching fully practicing physicians to conduct literature reviews. Similarly, in Data Governance, she went above and beyond expectations for coursework in her consideration of practical application of governance theory and GDPR compliance in her case study of the EU's OpenAIRE research repository for COVID data. She will pursue a medical library career and has already built a professional network in the NYC metro area. She brings a precision and care to her work that will serve her well in future positions.

Kathryn Luther & William T Henderson Award

Presented to Paul Richmond

Since coming to the iSchool, Paul Richmond has been an exemplar of doing professional practices consumed within service of others. He has taken on a number of graduate student roles across campus, including as collection management services hourly within the University's Dittenberger-Vahlen collection, an iSchool Help Desk and instructional technology and design assistant, and as a University library practicum student doing international comics collection development. At the same time, he has sought local community service opportunities, including as a computer volunteer at the Champaign Public Library. Beyond this, he is someone with whom meaningful service also regularly happens informally within individual and small group conversations, whether on-campus or online. Embedded within Paul's ethos is a keen sensitivity to the social and community needs specific to the given moment and context. Central to this is a critical theory lens and an acute awareness of the essential need for ongoing critical self-reflection, through which he works to maintain a high standard of service to every person within the diverse communities in which he engages.

Information Systems/Technologies Award 

Presented to Natã Barbosa and Tanya Gupta

Natã Barbosa started out his journey with information technology as a software developer in Brazil. In his research, he combines his curiosity, creativity, user research and system skills to build novel information technologies for social good. He has created accessible technologies for people with disabilities in protecting their privacy and security as well as tools to help ordinary citizens understand how their online and even offline activities can be tracked to generate user profiles and targeted ads. His work has resulted in publications at top-tier venues and a US patent. He has also won a student research award at the International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS) as well as was named a finalist for a Facebook Fellowship in the area of privacy. He is currently a full-time researcher in the Facebook privacy group.
Tanya Gupta was nominated for the Information Systems/Technologies Award based on her project work at the COUNTRY Financial DigitaLab (an innovation lab located at the University of Illinois Research Park). Tanya has worked as a data scientist for the DigitaLab for three semesters. During that time, her skillset provided her the opportunity to work on a variety of projects crossing both data science and software development. One specific project that Tanya led was a Wiki to GitLab project. Tanya led a team of data scientists, software developers, and UI/UX designers to design a standardized template that can be applied to move IT software application documentation from outdated servers to GitLab. This project enables the organization to accelerate decommissioning of old and unsupported servers and creates a modernized and consistent documentation platform. Part of this project required the teams to learn GitLab's markdown language. This template is currently being used to transfer documentation. This is just one example of many projects that Tanya has been involved with; others include CISO Dashboard, Building Age Verification Model, Microsoft Azure Cloud POCs, Analysis of Voice of Customer Data, and working with NLP. Tanya is an excellent intern who is very skilled in understanding the business needs and translating them into valuable deliverables for the organization. She is very deserving of this award.

iSchool Alumni Association Student Award

Presented to Jeanine Vaughn

Jeanine Vaughn's infectious leadership, commitment to social justice services, and fearless creativity mark her as a remarkable public library voice. Jeanine is a catalyzing force for storytelling in its many forms, spearheading the launch of a new student organization dedicated to carrying on the iSchool telling tradition. She is an advocate—as both student and alumnus—of the iSchool being a sustained "transformative space for telling stories," mirroring her public library work where she designs experiences such as trauma-informed storying and writing programs.  She is both spark and flame, igniting the "public library spirit" in her communities of practice.

Frances B. Jenkins Award

Presented to Clarissa Ihssen

Clarissa Ihssen has excellent potential to thrive as a science librarian. As an undergraduate student, Clarissa received her bachelor's in natural resources and environmental science and has a certificate in environmental writing from her English minor. During her two years in the iSchool, she held a graduate assistantship at the Funk Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Library, the Life Sciences Hub library representing the biological sciences, agricultural sciences, state scientific surveys, landscape architecture and urban and regional planning. In addition to providing excellent reference services to students and faculty across a wide range of disciplines, she sought experience in instruction: teaching multiple sessions on using scientific databases. Clarissa is also an innovator and was responsible for developing and delivering Funk Library's first online programming. She piloted a virtual study space via Zoom during the Spring 2020 finals week. She also took the initiative to create her own instruction series tailored to supporting students during the pandemic: "Student-ing Remotely." These sessions covered time management, navigating the library remotely, and stress management (in collaboration with the Counseling Center). Clarissa has a passion for outreach and engagement, and she was able to hone these skills as exhibit coordinator and outreach and engagement coordinator this past year. Clarissa was also instrumental in adding back issues and metadata for the Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin to the Illinois Open Publishing Network online platform and contributed a biographical sketch of an early employee of the Illinois State Water Survey to their blog. As lead graduate assistant in our unit, Clarissa faced the considerable challenge of orienting and mentoring the remaining assistants in our unit while working remotely. Her help was critical to ensuring a smooth start to a very uncertain beginning to the fall 2020 semester. As a mentor, she has shone as an excellent example of the professionalism expected in academic library settings. In the future, Clarissa will be able to blend her leadership experience with her outreach expertise to engage students in the sciences wherever she continues her career.

Alice Lohrer Award for Literature and Library Services for Youth

Presented to Anna Elizabeth Mitchell

Anna Elizabeth Mitchell is a powerhouse. Her focus on youth services, community, and social justice are unparalleled, as is her passion for working with young people and understanding their needs. During this unusual year, she has consistently uplifted those around her. As Assistant Professor Melissa Ocepek noted, "I find her comments in class incredibly helpful to round out class discussions and her emphasis on trauma informed care has been a real benefit to me and her classmates." In her work for Associate Professor Kate McDowell, she has been that rare RA who could competently draft sections of a grant narrative and need little editing to move her work to the final version. She is passionate and extremely capable, and we are lucky to have her in the LIS world.

Hazel C. Rediger Award

Presented to Jessie Mae Maimone

The Hazel C. Rediger award is presented to a student who demonstrates intellectual curiosity, and Jessie Mae Maimone has shown that throughout her time in the iSchool. Assistant Professor Melissa Ocepek has shared that no student has brought a more thoughtful and critical perspective to her courses than Jessie. While maintaining a strong focus on her goals in youth services, Jessie has questioned the key elements of librarianship and library and information science education. According to Assistant Professor Ocepek, no student has ever challenged her more to consider the content of her courses, leading to a better classroom experience for all of her students. Jessie is going to continue bringing her critical perspective to youth services librarianship by working to address the associations between public libraries and minoritized youth.

Joseph Rediger Librarian as Humanist Award

Presented to Jerilyn Tinio 

Jerilyn Tinio exemplifies the best characteristics of the scholar-librarian in the classical humanistic tradition. As a graduating student of the MS/LIS-MA in History joint program, Jerilyn has brought her deep engagement with sources in medieval and early modern natural philosophy and medicine to bear on her academic pursuits as well as her practice of librarianship. She has been able to draw upon her prior training in philosophy (PhD, Ohio State) to engage with the theories and practices of information in all its material forms. For example, Jerilyn's study of two posthumous editions of Rene Descartes' L'homme (or De homine) is an innovative examination of styles of visual rhetoric in contrasting depictions of human anatomy. She has also deployed her combination of book history, history of science, and art history in her assessment of digitized historical sources, including a 15th-century illuminated Bohemian copy of the William of Conches' scientific text Dragmaticon Philosophiae and the famous 16th-century anatomical study by Andreas Vesalius, with its detailed descriptions and over 200 images of the human body. Outside the classroom, Jerilyn has put her humanistic training into practice at the Newberry Library in Chicago as well as the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois, where she provided important context for the digital release of historical newspapers published in Illinois by African American and immigrant communities. Named to the cohort of Kaleidoscope Program Diversity Scholars by the Association of Research Libraries in 2020, Jerilyn has already been recognized by the profession for her potential. Jerilyn's humanistic sensibilities allow her to serve multiple disciplinary audiences; facilitate conversations across the arts and sciences; and offer novel ways of thinking about information, its technologies, and its consequences. Her training in the liberal arts will serve her exceptionally well in what promises to be a stellar career.

Selma K. Richardson Award

Presented to Mariel Fechik

Mariel Fechik consistently demonstrates a high level of thoughtfulness, creativity, and passion for youth literature and services. She enthusiastically engages in topics both theoretical and practical, and her contributions to class discussion are always reflective and articulate. Her passion for youth literature is clear and she effortlessly balances the abilities to look at books with a critical eye for quality and to assess how the books would work in a library setting. Mariel willingly shares her experiences as a Teen Services advisor with others and listens to her classmates' experiences as well, bringing a sense of professionalism and openness to class. The iSchool has been lucky to have her and the library field itself is lucky to have such an intelligent and passionate advocate for youth literature and library services.

Social Justice Award

Presented to Sophie Popovich and Dani Carmack

Sophie Popovich has been steadfast in her commitment to ensuring that library services and resources are equitably provided to all. In course discussions and assignments, Sophie gave regular voice to the need for library workers to think about how their practices may have differential impacts on individuals and groups due to inequitable practices, exclusion, and the like. In one course project, as an example, she took on the challenging task of designing an approach to assessing a public library's assistance services in a computer lab, inquiring into concerns related to discrimination and systemic bias while grappling with how to engage staff in a way that would be productive in light of likely defensiveness. Sophie is not deterred by the complexities of this work but rather embraces the challenges because of its importance.

Dani Carmack's commitment to social justice was apparent in both her coursework and classroom engagement. She developed a special interest in open educational resources and how libraries can support the development and use of those resources, leading to a more affordable education, especially for non-traditional and low-income students. Assistant Professor Melissa Ocepek shares that Dani's thoughtful focus on social justice was demonstrated throughout her time in the iSchool. Dani's coursework exemplified someone interested in serving community members and working to make the library more accessible and useful to the diverse and varied lives in her community.

Yingbo Zhou Memorial Fund Award

Presented to Mingyu Chen and Haoyong Lan

The Yingbo Zhou Memorial Fund Award is presented to a Chinese student who demonstrates excellence and high standards in his or her work, has a passion for life, inspires others, and makes a long-lasting, positive impact on the iSchool-Chinese LIS community.

Mingyu Chen came to the iSchool with a strong background in biotechnology and bachelor's degrees from China and Colorado. He used the MS in bioinformatics program to strengthen his data analytics skills, such as visualizing the results of chemical entity detection tools and integrating text mining output into an open source annotation platform for the Illinois' Cline Center for Advanced Social Research. In his current position at the VetMed lab, he is leveraging PCR analyses to get fast saliva testing results, which has an important impact on the iSchool and the rest of campus. His consistent high standards make him well positioned to achieve his goal of becoming a data/IT engineer at a biotechnology company or pharmaceutical company and worthy of the Yingbo Zhou Memorial Fund Award. 

Haoyong Lan embodies the spirit of the Yingbo Zhou Memorial Fund Award through his inspiration and dedication to helping people in need. Haoyong is a graduate assistant at the Grainger Engineering Library, where he collaborates with a team of librarians to provide reference service and research assistance to students, faculty, and staff. Haoyong enjoys helping people find the desired information. Haoyong is always passionate about his work and eager to get the job done well. While working as a website and database developer at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) library, Haoyong built the searchable IFSI International Programs Databases to promote the Chinese Librarians Scholarly Exchange Program (CLSEP) and other international programs.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

Presented to Bastian Sanchez 

Bastian Sanchez first started taking Information Sciences classes as an undergraduate majoring in Technical Systems Management. While at the University, he has taken on a variety of Information Technology and desktop support positions, including as an ATLAS SOS Student Desktop Support member and as an IT Infrastructure Support Associate. Through his academic work within iSchool courses and his budding IT professional practices on campus, he discovered his ideal degree fit with the formal launch of the Information Sciences undergraduate major. Bastian brings to each design and support team a highly collaborative nature and deep interest in Information Sciences frameworks, methods, and practices that facilitate service of others in ways that advance the data-information-knowledge-power cycle for all, and especially those on the margins. He now is bringing this to the next level as a systems support engineer for Legwork, a software development company, while completing his degree coursework deepening his critical theory lens through professional readings, rich conversations with undergraduate and graduate peers, and contributions of his field work insights to the information sciences discussion.

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