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64 Seniors Win Top Thesis Honors

By Nina O. R. yuen, Crimson Staff Writer

Earlier this week, the College announced the names of the 64 Harvard students who will receive the Hoopes Prize this spring for outstanding senior theses.

The estate of Thomas T. Hoopes '19 sponsors the $2,500 prize for each student winner and $700 for each nominating Faculty member.

Hoopes prize candidates are nominated for the broad, potential significance of their topics.

Han Ping Davin Chor '00 wrote about the skilled and unskilled wages of the world's workers in the last 30 years. With a thesis that is so factually focused, Chor said, "It always takes longer than you'd expect it to."

Winning thesis writers stuck to their topics even when their results solidified in unexpected ways.

Patricia L. Santos '00 set out to write a thesis about the way prostitution undermines the status of women. But she found that in states where people buy the most pornography and hire the most prostitutes per capita--in California, for example--women earned the most money and participated more in the labor force.

Even though her review of literature pointed to the evils of pornography and prostitution, her advisor, Benjamin Freedman, encouraged her to continue with her pro-porn data.

The first thing Santos plans to do with her prize money, she said, is "take my advisor out to eat."

Other winners wrote their theses only after living with their subjects for months.

Nitzan Shoshan '00 went to Israel to study how politicians use mystics in local campaigns. He observed the distribution of 400,000 magical amulets in one local election.

Although Shoshan said "Widener has an amazing collection of Israeli election materials," he said he was most inspired to write his thesis when he stood in Israel at midnight, amidst a crowd that had gathered around a single mystic.

Nisha S. Agarwal '00 spent three months on the Bombay pavement with a group of impoverished women. She studied their success in constructing their own homes and their mobilization for electricity.

She said the secret to thesis writing is discipline from the very beginning. Because she started the writing process late, she said, most of her year was consumed by her thesis.

Agarwal spent three months in Bombay, but Randolph A. G. Bell '00 also spent three months away from his bed for his award-winning film thesis: "It's Only a Tattoo."

He was exiled to his common room because his bedroom was transformed into a studio that captured the symbolic time-lapse rotting of a tattooed melon. The film was inspired by Bell's desires and fears about defying his straight-laced father and getting a tattoo.

A screening of Bell's film on Friday took the audience on a journey through tattoo parlors, living rooms of illegal tattooings and laser surgeries. After close-ups of biceps rippled in skulls and girlfriends' names, the film ended with Bell's decision, leaving half of the audience shuddering and the other half -including the Hoopes sub-committee--cheering.

The 2000 Hoopes Prize winners are:

Nisha S. Agarwal, David W. Foster, Katherine H. Sigelman and Robin Wasserman, of Adams House; Thalia Chantziara, Benjamin S. Edelson, Daniel M. Loss, Jacob A. Lurie, Garrett B. Moritz, Patricia L. Santos and Flora Zhang, of Cabot House; Han Ping Davin Chor, Matthew S. Povich, Aziz F. Rana and Gregory M. Sulkowski, of Currier House; Nora F. Lehmann, Rebecca Reider and Nitzan Shoshan, of Dudley House; Rodrigo A. Cruz, Sara M. Jablon, Joseph C. Krupnick and James L. Young, of Dunster House; John W. Baxindine, Randolph A.G. Bell, Jacqlynn Duquette, Daniel J. Hopkins and Margot L. Minardi, of Eliot House; Stephanie N. Ajudua, Paul C. Dilley, Ilana Kurshan, Linus Lee, Oliver M. Lewis, Ceen-Yenn Cynthia Lin and Emily B. Wong, of Kirkland House; Eliza C. Block, David L. Edeli, Jarasa Mangkorn Kanok, Siddharth Mohandas, Jennifer M. Stager, Daniel M. Sussner and Laura Winthrop, of Leverett House; Jacob F. Lentz, Caitrin E. Moran, Mary W.D. Nicklin, Mathhew T. Ozug, Emma F. Phillips, Benjamin A. Railton and James S.F. Wilson, of Lowell House; Arif N. Nathoo, Nicholas R. Parrillo, Erwin R. Rosinberg and Derek D. Smith, of Mather House; Nadarajan Chetty, Tricia M. Michels and Hannah K.R. Weiss, of Pforzheimer House; Julie M. Lau, Nora B. Morrison, Jason D. North, Dasa Pejchar, Samuel P. Tepperman-Gelfant and Griffin M. Weber, of Quincy House; and Michael R. Grunwald, Jamie L. Jones and Galit A. Sarfaty of Winthrop House.

Honorable mentions went to Erko N. Kiprilov of Eliot House, David Roddenberry of Dunster House and Beini Zhou of Leverett House.

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