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Penn State University Libraries

Award for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability & the Environment


201 Paterno Library
University Park  PA  16802

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Social Sciences Library
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The University Libraries, Penn State's Sustainability Institute, and Cengage Learning are partnering to sponsor the Library Award for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability and the Environment.

Students at all Penn State campuses are invited to apply.

  • One $1000 prize will be awarded.

  • Two additional prizes of $500 each will be awarded.

Prizes will be awarded on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015.


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To be eligible to win the 2015 Prize, applicants must:

  • be either a Penn State undergraduate currently enrolled in any discipline and at any level or a Penn State student who graduated in the Summer or Fall 2014 semester.
  • have completed their research project for a credit course at Penn State during the Summer 2014, Fall 2014, or Spring 2015 semesters
  • submit their project and supporting materials via the ANGEL Dropbox
  • agree to contribute to a display about their research in the University Libraries' Research Hub following receipt of the Award
  • agree that all winning prize materials will become permanent property of the University Archives
  • agree to attend the Library Prize Awards Ceremony on Earth day, April 22, 2015


Sustainability or environment focused projects eligible for consideration

  • Research papers
  • Multimedia projects (e.g. film, video, websites)
  • Fine arts (e.g. performances, installations, musical compositions, sculpture, etc.)
  • Design Projects (from any discipline) 
  • For other project ideas please email the Awards Committee at


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How to Apply


How to Apply

  • All applications must be submitted via ANGEL by Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 5:00 pm. See the below for instructions on how to locate the ANGEL Dropbox.
  • Papers, theses, and and non-text projects are eligible for consideration.
  • Your paper or project must be nominated for consideration by a faculty member.

Applications must include

  1. Nominating letter
    Include a signed nominating letter from the professor for whose course you did the research project. You may submit one additional letter of support from another faculty member who is familiar with the project if you wish. Letter(s) must be signed by the faculty member. You may scan the letter and upload it or ask the faculty member(s) to submit it via ANGEL. Instructions on enrolling in the ANGEL Group are below.

  2. Cover Sheet
    Complete the cover sheet filling out all applicable fields. Cover sheet is also available on ANGEL.

  3.  Research Strategy Essay
    Write and submit, as part of your application, a 500-1,000 word essay describing your research strategies and use of library tools and resources. In the essay, include an abstract that makes clear your project's contribution to sustainability and the environment. For non-text projects such as multimedia projects an additional 800 word essay is required that outlines how your research influenced your final project.

  4. Bibliography
    Submit a bibliography containing all resources consulted or quoted during the course of your research. The bibliography, which is mandatory regardless of whether or not your professor originally required it, must conform to a recognized style guideline (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.).

  5. Paper or project
    Submit the final version of your paper or project through ANGEL by the deadline.

    • If you are submitting report or paper minimum length should be approximately 3500 words, approximately 14 pages, doubles spaced 12 pt type.  See Rubric for details.

    • If you are submitting a multimedia project, attach a file in a standard format to your ANGEL submission along with all other application materials. If you cannot submit your multimedia project via ANGEL please contact the awards committee via the ANGEL Communicate function to arrange for an alternative.
  6. Non-textual projects require an additional 800 word essay.   See details below.


  • Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.




Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, March 31, 2015. This will allow the judges ample time to review submissions and contact the winners.



Enrolling in ANGEL

How to join the ANGEL dropbox for the Award for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability & the Environment  

  1. Log into ANGEL
  2. In the My Groups
  3. Click on Find a Group
  4. Search for the keywords undergraduate sustainability
  5. Click on Enroll - You have enrolled
  6. Click on Award for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability & the Environment
  7. Read submission information
  8. To submit your materials as an attachment, click on Student Application DropBox


  • Please include your name as part of all file names. Example: sheehy_cover.doc



Non-textual projects

Multimedia projects or other non-text submissions are eligible. 

Examples of potential projects include but are not limited to

  • Research Papers
  • Multimedia projects (film, video, websites)
  • Fine arts (performances, installations, musical compositions, sculpture, etc.)
  • Architecture, urban design projects
  • Landscape architecture design projects
  • Agricultural or engineering design projects
  • For other project ideas please email the Award Committee at

Submissions must demonstrate that background research for the work was done. Please submit an additional 800 word research methods essay outlining both your research techniques and how your research influenced your finished project.

A bibliography of works consulted during your research is required.


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Judging Rubric

The rubric that will be used to judge submissions includes two components: the research strategy essay and technical criteria.

Research Strategy Essay

The Research Strategy Essay should be a minimum 500-word essay that outlines the steps the candidate used in performing their research. Students should include: databases used, research strategies (e.g., keywords and other search techniques applied in databases), how searches were refined, and how the topic was narrowed as the research progressed.

Examples of sources that will be looked at in this essay are: books, articles, conference papers, government documents, dissertations, archives, manuscripts, technical reports, working papers, statistics, data sets, and audiovisual materials

Research Strategy

Points 3 2 1
Research strategy

Shows robust research methodology

Shows solid research methodology

Shows basic research methodology
Use of Library Resources

Uses both primary and secondary resources. Uses complex or specialized databases

Uses more complex resources such as disciplinary databases, reference tools, or bibliographies

Uses only basic search tools such as the LionSearch, the library catalog (The CAT), and the Internet

Types and formats of sources

Uses a wide variety of types of materials

Uses a number of different types of sources

Uses only basic sources, e.g., books and websites

Depth and Breadth of Research

Has a variety of sources with multiple perspectives showing comprehensive coverage

Has a variety of sources

Uses obvious/familiar sources


Technical criteria

Points 2 1
Faculty nomination letter


Very Good

Text submissions:
Length: Minimum of 3500 words
14 pages, 12 point, double-spaced

Meets criteria

Within one page

Multimedia projects:
e.g., film or video, musical compositions, fine arts, etc. - must include an additional essay on how your research influenced your project.

Demonstrates highly advanced design

Demonstrates advanced design

Citations follow a standard acceptable style, e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.

Consistent citation style

Largely consistent citation style


Content Criteria

Points 2 1
Effect for sustainable environmental change (social or physical)

Shows strong potential

Shows moderate potential


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For further information please contact he Awards Committee at


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Resources for your project

For help locating library resources related to sustainability please consult the Libraries' Research Guides on


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