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Work of 36 Students Honored In Harvard Hoopes Competition

By Kelly A. E. mason

The Hoopes Committee recently announced the names of 35 seniors and one junior who were awarded the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for their works of academic excellence.

The winners were chosen from 153 contestants, and each received a cash award of $1500 to use any way he or she chose, a spokesperson for the committee said.

"It's a lot of time and work--everyone put in a lot of time and work," said winner Wanda W. Choy '89. "I'm just happy I was lucky enough to win."

Students who competed for the prize nominated themselves and had their submission approved by their theses advisors, or were nominated by their advisors on the basis of their work, said Anne F. Lessels, an administrative officer in the office of the secretary in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The advisors of the winning students also receive grants of $500 for research and study, Lessels said.

Jaron R. Bourke '89, a literature major, won a Hoopes Prize for his thesis titled, "Presenting History and Historicizing the Present: Bakhtin and His World of Language, Ideology, and Interpretation," an analysis of the works of the Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin.

Although some students are unaware that they are under consideration for the prestigious award, Bourke said he knew he had been nominated for the prize from the start.

"I knew when my advisor nominated me. He said, `Here deliver [copies of the thesis to people on the committee]'," said Bourke.

Choy, a biochemistry major, said she wrote her thesis about "a new gene that possibly unwinds DNA," which her advisor found. She said that he had assigned her to "characterize" the gene.

"It involved [reading] a lot of literature," Choy said. "I worked on it for a year and a half--I spent my summers here."

Choy said she plans to spend $500 of her prize money this summer, but that she will put the other $1000 away to pay for medical school, which she plans to attend in August.

Social studies concentrator Iris E. Benett '89 said she was "happy and surprised and amused" when she discovered she had won for her thesis on women activists of the abortion rights movement in Britain.

"It seems so far away," Benett said. "You say, `Oh, yeah, the Hoopes prize--those bound things in Lamont.' But that can someday be you."

The prize was established in the 1982-83 academic year in the will of Thomas T. Hoopes '19 for "promoting, improving and enhancing the quality of education." The prize is usually awarded to seniors who have written outstanding theses.

The one junior recipient was Luis Chi Ho '90, who won for her junior tutorial project entitled, "3-D SPH Simulations of Gas Dynamics in the Galactic Center." Ho could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The committee also released for the first time ever the names of the 12 seniors whose works merited honorable mention in the competition.

These students received no cash but were named because "their works were considered to be of a very high quality," Lessels said.

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