Skip to main content

Eight UT students have been recognized for their research projects in the 2018 Undergraduate Awards, the largest international academic awards program, recognizing excellent research and original work across the sciences, humanities, business, and creative arts. The awards are sometimes called the “junior Nobel Prize.”

Sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research, three students traveled to Dublin, Ireland, this week for the organization’s Global Summit.

Siori Koerner, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, received her bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and literatures in May 2018. She was recognized as Highly Commended in the literature category, meaning that her work was in the top 10 percent of the 448 literature submissions this year. Koerner’s project, “Schoolgirls, Future Wives, and Rockstar Lives: Reconciliation and Resistance in Shoujo Manga,” analyzes shoujo (girl-oriented) manga and draws from economic and anthropological theories regarding gender and resistance to examine its popularity with young girls and women.

James Halliwell, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Joseph Platt, of Memphis, Tennessee, both seniors in the School of Architecture, received the Commended designation for their projects. Students at this level of distinction advanced to the second round of judging but did not receive an award.

Halliwell’s research-based design project, “Animus Installation,” features a modern design of Norris Dam, located on the Clinch River. In his design, Halliwell revisualizes Norris Dam as a “symbol of modernity and a hub for nature, culture, and energy systems.” Norris Dam was one of the first major projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the mid-1930s, bringing economic development to East Tennessee.

Platt’s project, “The Integrated Matrix,” explores the integration of new technology into hiking trails. Platt proposes that existing information kiosks placed along hiking trails, be transformed into location-tracking devices that transmit data to a central location.

While in Ireland, Koerner, Halliwell, and Platt presented their work to students from around the world as well as panels of international educators, activists, and researchers. They also had the opportunity to attend lectures, workshops, and debates and to collaborate with students from across cultures and disciplines.

This year, the Undergraduate Awards received 4,887 submissions from 46 different countries and 180 nationalities. UT students submitted a total of 19 projects. Five other students were named Commended but did not travel with the group:

  • Zane Russell, who received a bachelor’s degree in architecture
  • Andrianna Thompson, who received a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture
  • Ben Bergman, who received a bachelor’s degree in global studies and modern foreign languages and literatures
  • Abby Geater, who received a bachelor’s degree in social work
  • Victoria Clements, who received a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and international business

“All of our undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in research, and we encourage our students to submit the results of their research for domestic and international recognition,” said Marisa Moazen, UT’s executive director of undergraduate research and community engagement.

This year, 3,906 undergraduate students at UT participated in some kind of research or scholarly activity.

“We are proud of our students’ accomplishments, and the Undergraduate Awards provides an international forum for students to share and be recognized for their academic achievements,” Moazen said.

Students interested in submitting projects for consideration by the Undergraduate Awards may enter up to three research and creative projects on which they received an A or equivalent grade. The application process opens in January and closes at the end of May each year.


Erin Chapin (865-974-2187,

Marisa Moazen (869-974-8560,