Skip to main content
Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE)

Library research award winners share challenges, triumphs of 2020

Three Miami University undergraduate students recently won the Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE), an annual cash prize awarded to students who use library resources to great effect during class research projects.

Jessica Baloun ‘21 was studying abroad in Russia when the COVID-19 pandemic forced an early and hasty return home, away from the Russian libraries and primary sources she’d planned on using in her research project. Emily Froude ‘21 planned to conduct her research in Panama, where she’d be immersed in her topic — plans that quickly changed in early 2020.

Despite the challenges of disrupted plans, a sudden shift to remote instruction, and immense uncertainty, this year’s LAURE winners found ways to adapt and redirect their research to make the most of the resources and materials available to them under the restrictions caused by COVID-19. “These students engaged with the research process and Libraries in innovative ways to produce excellent projects. I was impressed with the high quality of submissions this year,” said Stefanie Hilles, the arts and humanities librarian on campus. Online databases and digital collections, virtual consultations, and appointment-based visits to Special Collections all featured frequently in the research processes of the three award winners.

Congratulation to the three LAURE 2021 winners!

  • Third prize goes to Megan Snyder ‘22, a history major, for her project “Refugee Haven or Dumping Ground? A Comparative Study of Displaced Persons in Central Asia During World War II”. Her project advisor was Daniel Prior. Librarian Jenny Presnell provided support.
  • Second Prize is awarded to Emily Froude ‘21, an international studies and political science major, for her project “Understanding and Withstanding: Comparing Colombian and Mexican Responses to Migration Crises”. Her project advisor was Sheila Croucher.
  • First prize goes to Jessica Baloun ‘21 a history major, for her project “Before the Numbers Disappeared: Media and Perception of the 1937 Soviet Census”. Her project advisor was Stephen Norris.

The LAURE is a joint effort of the University Libraries and the Office of Undergraduate Research, with the winners announced at the annual Undergraduate Research Forum.

The award-winning submissions are uploaded to the Miami University Scholarly Commons as part of the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Collection, where previous LAURE winners’ projects and essays can be found.

Many thanks to the 2021 LAURE committee members & judges; Matthew Benzing, Mark Dahlquist, Stefanie Hilles, Rachel Makarowski, Jody Perkins, and Shawn Vanness. The judging panel is made up of the committee and the following faculty and staff outside the libraries; Alex Cox, Nancy Parkinson, Martha Weber, Carlo Samson, Kate Francis, and Matthew Crain.

To learn more about the award, review the submission process, and read previous winning essays, visit the University Libraries’ LAURE webpage. The LAURE committee is happy to answer any questions about the application process, provide support in writing the essay or with submitting files. Please reach out to the committee at

2021 LAURE Winners