$500 Award | Applications due 3/08/2024 | Winners published in Digital Commons
Information Services is excited to announce the winner of the 7th annual $500 Connecticut College Prize for Undergraduate Library Research:
Binh Vo '23
For the project:
"CRISPR-Cas9 System In Vitro and DNA Modifications Using Homology-Directed Repair Mechanism"
Written in the Spring 2021 semester for Professor Deborah Eastman's course, Cells and Molecules (BIO 209).
An excerpt from Vo's application:
"I have always been a curious Biochemistry student who wants to work in the pharmaceutical and healthcare-related fields. Therefore, I spend time exploring discoveries in these fields to cultivate my knowledge... In several introductory biology courses, mutation-based diseases appear to be one of the most complicated and almost-impossible-to treat illnesses. Therefore, I shifted my attention from global infections to mutation diseases due to genetic disorders. I was fortunate to be in the Intro to Biological Inquiry class of Professor Martha Grossel, which prepared me with knowledge of genetics. However, since I craved hands-on research in gene editing, this course could not satisfy my needs. 2 years ago, I came across an article from Nature called "Pioneers of revolutionary CRISPR gene editing win chemistry Nobel", which presents the ground-breaking discovery by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system (Ledford and Callaway 2020, 346–47)."
"I struggled with finding my research subject. I asked Professor Deborah Eastman for advice, and she recommended I research the effect of CRISPR-Cas9 on the alteration of the lacZ gene in Escherichia coli. I started by watching the "Gene Editing Mechanism of CRISPR-Cas9" from the Wyss Institute of Harvard University, which gave the visualization of how gene modification works. Then, I commenced my preliminary research by reading several articles from Science Direct, PubMed, Scopus, etc, which were recommended by Professor Sardha Suriyapperuma. Since this was pre-research, I searched for articles using very general terms, such as "gene-editing mechanism," "genome modification," "lacZ gene alteration," etc. She also advised me to read more review articles on gene drive technology and DNA repair mechanism to get the big picture."
"After doing the pre-research, I drew a brainstorming diagram to connect all the pieces and finalized my research. By reading different experimental designs and confirming tests in several journal articles, I concluded that I would evaluate the success of lacZ gene alteration based on the color of colonies and perform PCR as well as gel electrophoresis to confirm my results."
"I was fortunate to attend a session on citations, bibliographies, and research resources in Shain Library, where I was introduced to OneSearch, in my FYS-119K: Virtual Realities in Japan. Besides searching for general key terms, such as "gene drive technology," "genome-editing mechanisms" in OneSearch, Professor Deborah Eastman recommended that I should use more specific terms if I want results closer to my expectations. Therefore, I changed my strategy to searching using specific terms such as "RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9," "lacZ gene alteration," "DNA breakage," to write a better background section."
The full-text of winning research statements is available in Digital Commons.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted their work or sponsored a student for this year's competition. The Library Prize Committee was impressed with the variety of disciplines and research methods employed in this year's applications. To give three examples, we have decided to recognize the accomplishment of three runners-up who will receive Honorable Mention at this year's Honors & Awards Ceremony:
We are thankful to have received inspired and inspiring entries for this year's prize, not just from a variety of departments — including Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Environmental Science, History, Music, Philosophy, and Psychology — but from students in all class years, including first years, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
The annual prize was awarded for the first time in 2016. It is the first award at Connecticut College specifically created to recognize excellence in the research process. Its purpose is to honor students who have demonstrated excellence in research, and to motivate students to learn and deploy sophisticated research strategies. The competition is judged by a team of librarians and faculty (see Library Prize Committee).
All currently enrolled undergraduate students are eligible for the prize, and any student work for a grade (excepting work for honors projects) was accepted. Entrants submitted a copy of their work and a research statement describing their process, along with a bibliography and a note of recommendation from a faculty member.
Students are encouraged to consider applying, and faculty, similarly, are encouraged to suggest that students apply.
The Library Prize Committee is grateful to the Friends of the Connecticut College Library for their generous sponsorship of this award.
The Connecticut College Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is adapted from UC, Berkeley, Library Prize for Undergraduate Research; Temple University, Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.