Hoopes Prizes Awarded

79 recipients of the prestigious award for theses were announced

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) announced Friday the 79 recipients of the distinguished Thomas T. Hoopes Class of 1919 Prize, which recognizes the top senior theses.

The annual award was established by the estate of Hoopes, a historian and long-time curator of the City Art Museum in St. Louis, to recognize and reward excellence in research and writing. The prize includes $2,500 for the students and $750 for the faculty advisors.

Many of the student recipients said that they heard they had won the honor from friends, and then confirmed by checking the FAS Secretary’s website.

Lisa R. Fountain, the FAS administrator of prizes, said that the official notification letters will be mailed soon, perhaps as early as today.

“A friend of mine called me and told me congratulations, and I had no idea what he was talking about,” said Ian T. Le ’05, who won for his mathematics thesis “Tangent Lines to Curves Arising from Automorphic Distributions.”

Le said his paper investigated where tangent lines existed on curves with fractal properties.

“Basically where they behave nicely,” he explained. “Because they are fractals, they often behave chaotically.”

Le, who will be attending a piano performance program at Northwestern University after graduation, said his advisor, Robinson Professor of Mathematics Wilfried Schmid, suggested the topic.

Liora R. Halperin ’05 also appreciated faculty input and advice. Since she is a joint concentrator in history and Near Eastern languages and civilizations, she had an advisor from each field for her thesis, entitled “The Arabic Question: Zionism and The Politics of Language in Palestine, 1918-1948.”

“Having two advisors was really helpful,” she said.

Her thesis studied the arguments that were made in favor of teaching Arabic to Jewish immigrants who came to Palestine before the formation of Israel in 1947. The rationales included the need to communicate with the majority Arab population and the benefits of studying a language similar to Hebrew, said Halperin, who is entering a history Ph.D. program at UCLA.

She began conducting research her sophomore year, and she also spent the fall of her junior year in Jerusalem, she said.

Not all of the winning theses, however, were scholarly works requiring such prolonged research.

For instance, Nora N. Khan ’05 won for her 100-page fictional work “‘One’ (A Novel),” which tells the story of a young Chechnyan freedom fighter who becomes a suicide bomber from the girl’s own perspective.

“The experience was soul-rending,” she said, adding that she had to rewrite the novel several times to cut down on the verbosity.

Khan, who is deciding between job offers from the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker, said she switched from History and Literature to English “because I wanted to do a creative thesis, and because I want to be a writer when I get out of here.”