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August 4, 2020 | Volunteer & Awards

U of T Libraries recognizes new grad Braden Zufelt and five other students for outstanding research

By Allison Ridgway

A collage of six photos showing the heads of Braden Zufelt and his five fellow award-winners.

Clockwise, from left to right: Emma Sullivan, Tegan Ridge, Kiera Farrell-Beaulieu, Braden Zufelt (BA 2020 TRIN), Sally Walker-Hudecki and Colin Stewart

Braden Zufelt (BA 2020 TRIN) didn't realize that U of T Libraries contained a treasure trove of historical newspapers before he started investigating how archival evidence can overturn conventional views of history.

Now, not only is he familiar with the University's incredible holdings, his deep dive analysis has made him one of six winners of the 2020 Patricia and Peter Shannon Wilson Undergraduate Research Prize for his research paper on English and French attitudes to German reunification in 1989: history says they were hostile, but this turns out to be a bit of a myth.

“Prior to my investigation, I had not fully understood the wealth of databases available,” says Zufelt, who just graduated from Trinity College where he majored in international relations and philosophy and minored in history. “Now I have a greater appreciation of libraries: the organizational bedrock of any academic discipline [and] fundamental to our understanding of the world and each other.”

"A genuinely original interpretation"

“Braden utilized and integrated into his narrative very successfully a broad, interdisciplinary range of sources, both primary and secondary," says his research supervisor, Professor John M. Dirks (MIS 2002, PhD 2014). "Unquestionably Braden is a brilliant analyst and writer; yet by reading as widely as he did, he is able to put forward a genuinely original interpretation."

Zufelt’s fellow Undergraduate Research Prize winners demonstrated similar novel approaches in their work. U of T Libraries awards six prizes of $1,000 each year to undergraduate students from all campuses and disciplines for research they conducted while completing coursework.

“It is wonderful to see our talented students utilizing the wealth of information available at the libraries,” says U of T Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr (MSW 1980, PhD 1996). “I was particularly impressed by the students’ innovation at navigating the various resources, exemplifying the extraordinary undergraduate work happening at the University of Toronto.”

This year’s winners – all Faculty of Arts & Science students – are Kiera Farrell-Beaulieu (second year, Innis College), Tegan Ridge (fourth year, St. Michael’s College), Colin Stewart (fourth year, University College), Emma Sullivan (third year, Victoria College), Sally Walker-Hudecki (second year, Trinity College), and Braden Zufelt (BA 2020 TRIN) (fourth year, Trinity College).

While U of T Libraries typically hosts a reception for each year’s prize winners, the event could not be held this year due to a limit on gatherings of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. U of T Libraries is instead celebrating this year’s winners online, where they share what the prize means to them and what they have gained from their research experience.

“Winning this prize shows that my research is going in a positive direction that can lead to an attitude shift in society”

The winning papers are available to read through TSpace, U of T’s open access digital research repository.

“Winning this prize has been the most significant achievement both in my personal life and in my career thus far at the University of Toronto,” says Farrell-Beaulieu, who won the prize for her research paper on the opioid overdose epidemic among youth in Ottawa.

Farrell-Beaulieu says her experiences growing up in Ottawa inspired her winning paper, which was completed for the course JGI 216: Globalization and Urban Change.

“Winning this prize shows that my research is going in a positive direction that can lead to an attitude shift in society’s treatment of teenage addiction and mental health,” she says. “It also means hope – for me, my classmates, community members, and the parents of those who passed away – that this crisis doesn’t have to be a permanence in our community.”

Generous U of T alumni Patricia and Peter Wilson supported the prize endowment

Larry Alford, U of T’s chief librarian, says he was “deeply impressed” at the level of research undertaken by the six winners.

“The students especially deserve to be commended for putting together their applications this year under the challenging circumstances of a global pandemic when the University had to quickly move online and classes were in the midst of transition,” he says.

The Patricia and Peter Shannon Wilson Undergraduate Research Prize is made possible due to an endowment by Patricia Wilson (BA 1960 WDW, BEd 1962, MEd 1965) and Peter Wilson (BCom 1993 SMC) that supports U of T Libraries in promoting excellence in undergraduate research.

The winners were chosen by a panel of six judges: Christina Tooulias-Santolin, user services librarian at Robarts Library; Mikaela Gray (MI 2017), liaison and education librarian at the Gerstein Science Information Centre; Tracy Zahradnik (MI 2013), engineering librarian at the Engineering and Computer Science Library; Robert Bothwell (BA 1966 UC), professor of international relations at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy; David Cook (BA 1969 VIC, MA 1970, PhD 1968), professor of political science at Victoria College; and Jenna Gillen, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.



Congratulations 2020 graduate! Your new alumni community welcomes you with open arms.

Your relationship with U of T doesn’t have to end with graduation. It’s actually a lifetime resource of ideas, networks, connections and support.