Black selected as 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award winner

May 16, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries presented the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award to Schreyer Honors College Scholar Benjamin Black following his public oral presentation May 3. Black will receive $1,250 for his thesis "Incidents in the South China Sea: Exploring the Chinese Perspective of the Disputes."  Black is a graduating senior who received his degree in International Affairs and Asian Studies this weekend.

Schreyer Scholar Sumit Pareek, a summer 2018 graduate seeking his degree in chemical engineering, was awarded second place and $750 for his thesis "Decision Making within the Build Environment as a Strategy for Mitigating the Risk of Vector-Borne Diseases Such as Malaria." Nicholas Capri, a graduating Schreyer Scholar who received degrees in history and economics, earned $500 for his third place thesis "Profits and Piety: Merchant Capitalism and the Protestant Ethic in the Massachusetts Bay Colony."

The annual competition included a review of the submitted theses by a faculty jury and a public oral presentation by the three finalists. The Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award provides an opportunity to fully appreciate the academic quality of Penn State students and the depth of their undergraduate research.

The Libraries initiated this award as a way to emphasize the importance of utilizing quality research methods and employing a thorough understanding of the legal and ethical issues related to the use of information — both key components of academic excellence. For Schreyer Scholars, the thesis is the capstone of their honors experience at Penn State. This competition recognizes the discerning inquiry and diligent research undertaken by the scholars in preparation of the completion of each thesis.

This year’s panel of judges was composed of six Penn State faculty: Julian Avery, senior lecturer and research associate of wildlife ecology and conservation, College of Agricultural Sciences; and from the University Libraries, Paterno Family Librarian for Literature Bill Brockman, Information Sciences and Business Liaison Librarian Carmen Cole, Nursing and Allied Health Librarian Kat Phillips, Social Sciences Library acting Head Nonny Schlotzhauer, and Benzak Business Librarian an Head of the Schreyer Business Library, Diane Zabel, the panel’s chair.

The submissions process for the Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award begins in January of each year. Students who have graduated in summer of the previous year or fall or spring of the current academic year are eligible to participate. Details are available at

For more information, contact Wendi Keeler at 814-863-5449 or

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Last Updated May 31, 2018