68 Undergraduates Win Hoopes Prize

Sixty-eight undergraduates received Hoopes prizes for outstanding academic work or scholarly research this week, many for their senior theses.

Funded by the estate of Thomas T. Hoopes, Class of 1919, the annual grant seeks to award students for “promoting, improving, and enhancing the quality of literary, artistic, musical, scientific, historical, or other academic subject,” according to the Hoopes prize website. FAS faculty supervise the undergraduate projects.

The prize includes a $4,000 award for undergraduates and a $1,500 honorarium for faculty advisers. In addition, this year’s winning submissions can be viewed in Lamont Library for the next two years.

Abla Alaoui Soce ’15, who won a Hoopes prize for her thesis in Psychology entitled “Animate Shape Features Influence High-level Animate Categorization,” said the award represents both her dedication to her work in the field of visual cognition and the support she received from her adviser.

“I was really lucky,” Soce said. “I was very supported. I want to continue on in this research. I don’t think this the end of this topic for me.”


Daniel Barcia ’15 echoed Soce, saying that the completion of his History thesis does not represent the end of his exploration of his thesis topic.

Barcia, whose thesis is entitled “Restless Liberty: The Fall of Florida’s Maroon Haven and the Largest Slave Rebellion in U.S. History, 1835-1838,” traveled to Spain, Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York to conduct research in various archives. A native Spanish speaker, Barcia said he found the research he did with Spanish documents some of the most rewarding work he has done at Harvard.

Barcia said he had to cut some of the body of his thesis to fulfill the History department’s page length limits. He hopes both to add back in and expand upon the edited material.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in this area,” Barcia said.

Brad G. Bolman ’15, who was awarded for his thesis entitled “The Pigs That Therefore We Are: 20th-Century Porcine Biomedical Experimentation," also said the thesis is just the starting point for future research.

Originally, Bolman thought the goal of thesis writing was to produce “something large, coherent, and good” to contribute to academic discourse, he said. Now with plans to apply to graduate school, Bolman said he hopes eventually to continue developing his research into articles, books, or other published works.

Indeed, for many of the Hoopes Prize winners, the rigors of the research process itself motivated their work, they said.

“It’s hard to know what you might find, and that’s the beauty of research and doing good scholarly work,” Hoopes Prize awardee Forrest S. Brown ’15 said.

Brown, whose winning thesis in History is entitled “Sudden War: The Yosemite Miwok Indians and the California Gold Rush,” said he began his thesis process knowing that he would write about Yosemite but did not know what the  project ultimately would cover.   

“I had a concept, I found everything I could, and I wrote about what I had, realizing what wasn’t there but what I tried to find,” Brown said. “I think this is the tricky and frustrating part of good academic research, and the one you could never rush through.”

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.