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UMD Libraries announce the recipients of the 2021 Library Awards for Undergraduate Research

Program introduces new award for research in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.

Program introduces new award for research in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility

The University of Maryland Libraries are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Library Awards for Undergraduate Research. This year’s awardees are William L. Wong, class of 2021, Boban Dedović, class of 2021, and Jesse Anderson, class of 2022. Anderson is the inaugural recipient of the Libraries’ new award for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) research.

The Library Awards for Undergraduate Research competition is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students. Each year, awards of $1,000 are issued to up to four undergraduates whose work best demonstrates the value of using library services and information resources in research projects. This year, the Libraries introduced the new IDEA award for Undergraduate Research to recognize an outstanding research paper that advances knowledge and understanding of IDEA-related issues.

“We, at the Libraries, are committed to advancing research in the areas of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility,” Patricia Cossard, Art and Sociology Librarian and a founding chair of the Awards Committee, explained. “This new award empowers students to explore diversity issues, educate themselves, and inspire others to advance social justice by embracing IDEA values in their research,” added Cossard.

And the winners are ...

William L. Wong
“Strength in Contradiction: The Radicalization of Incel Rhetoric” (

By incorporating a broad range of research and analysis and directly monitoring the rhetoric of self-described “incels” or “involuntary celibates” this paper sheds light on how online communities are uniquely capable of radicalizing individuals and pushing them towards acts of terror. The paper’s findings are relevant to present-day discussions over online speech, which have been motivated by the continued power of online groups and individuals to perpetrate violent attacks inspired by white supremacy, misogyny, and conspiracy theories. This paper emphasizes several fields of interconnected research in the investigation of the linguistic and psychological roots of radicalization. Findings on the radicalization of incels are compared to the processes of radicalization seen in established terrorist groups worldwide.

Boban Dedović
“‘Minds’ in ‘Homer’: A quantitative psycholinguistic comparison of the Iliad and Odyssey” (

This investigation sought to quantify and compare the use of mental language in the Homeric epics by means of computational linguistics. The paper contains two empirical studies, statistically comparing how often words related to “mind” appeared in both works in both Greek and English versions. Study 1 compared how often mental language terms appeared in both works. Study 2 compiled an English mental language glossary, counting their frequencies. Findings suggest that the Odessey contains much more mental language than the Illiad.

Jesse Anderson
“In Support of Abstinence-Plus Education: Evaluating the Shortcomings of Peer-to-Peer Education and Abstinence-Only Programs in the Context of Attitudes, Intentions, and Behaviors” (
Inaugural 2021 IDEA Award Winner

Anderson’s paper examines three primary approaches to sexual education - abstinence-only, peer-to-peer, and abstinence-plus - and weighs their merits in the context of their influence on attitudes, behaviors, and intentions. The Big Decisions program espouses a respectful, culturally sensitive environment is essential to the success of any sexual education program. Pursuant to this belief, the curricula demonstrate sexual decision-making through displays of loving relationships across cultures as well as in the context of participants’ personal aspirations in life. It encourages participants to clarify their personal limits and understand how the risks of STDs and teen pregnancy can impede personal goals established at the start of the program. Most importantly, the curriculum does not belittle or demonize teens who are already sexually active or teens who are in the LGBTQ+ community.

“I am honored that you chose me for this award, and I'm excited to read through the work of other finalists!, said Anderson. Rachel Gammons, Head of Teaching and Learning Services in the Libraries, who advised Anderson on her research and provided a letter of support for her application, added, “I have worked with many students over the years, but Jesse is undoubtedly one of the most capable and driven third-year students I have had the pleasure to know…[she] came across a meta-analysis on sexual health programs in the US and we had a long conversation about the research methods used for this type of literature review and how she could use some of the ideas and frameworks to guide her research. In later meetings, we talked about specific strategies – including citation chaining.”

Anderson has had a research interest in HIV education since her first year at UMD. In her reflective essay, Anderson explained, “My personal research throughout freshman and sophomore year culminated in The Caring Project ( This project provides 20+ non-digital resources that range from pamphlets to quizzes to posters to supplement the main focus of the project: a chatbot that develops a comprehensive HIV curriculum through guided interactions within the platform on topics such as prevention, living with HIV, and basic information, among others.”

Members of the 2021 Awards Jury were Patricia Kosco Cossard, Chair, and Art/Sociology Librarian; Sarah Hesler, Libraries’ IDEA Committee; Kana Jenkins, Curator, Prange Collection & Librarian for East Asian Studies; Katy Lawly, Senior Lecturer, College of Information Studies; Eric Lindquist, History, American Studies, Classics, and Religion Librarian; Celina McDonald, Government Documents & Criminology Librarian; and Jordan Sly, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy, and SLLC Librarian.

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