Essay prize-winners announced

13th January 2021

News, Student news

Congratulations to winners of the College and Cheney essay prizes.

  • Rebecca Perez, winner of the College Prize in Science and Mathematics

    Rebecca Perez, winner of the College Prize in Science and Mathematics

Rebecca Perez (Human Sciences, 2019) wins the College Prize in Science and Mathematics while the Cheney Prize in the Arts and Social Sciences is jointly won by Mia Sorenti (History, 2019) and Ben Broadbent (Lit Humaniores, 2018).

Rebecca’s winning essay is entitled The Long Legacy of New Diseases: How Anthropology can be a Crucial Tool in the Race to Identify the Next Outbreak. 

"I came across a story of how a Navajo community used their traditional knowledge to identify a hantavirus outbreak. It struck me that people all over the world are incredibly knowledgeable about their own ecosystems and the environments they live in, and that changes in these environments can alert us to heightened risks of disease outbreaks. I wondered how much information we are missing out on by not considering traditional knowledge in our studies of community health. Ultimately, I found that there's lots of evidence that historical climate patterns and ecosystem changes can serve as warning signs for disease outbreaks, and that anthropological documentation of indigenous knowledge can be a powerful tool for understanding these historical trends and their implications," comments Rebecca.

The judges commended her on a timely and genuinely well-executed piece of science essay writing. 

  • Mia Sorenti, who jointly won the Cheney Prize in the Arts and Social Sciences

    Mia Sorenti, who jointly wins the Cheney Prize in the Arts and Social Sciences

Mia’s essay: An Epicene Ideal: an Analysis of Michelangelo’s Ignudi developed from Mia’s studies of Renaissance Europe. 

She comments: “I was really interested by some portraits of men whose appearance was very 'feminine' and idealised. Artists often depicted gender indeterminacy to signify a higher form of composite beauty, which exceeded the constraints of nature. In my essay I used these ideas to analyse Michaelangelo's 'ignudi', the nude figures which sit at the corners of the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and examined how their androgyny elevated the spirituality of the space.” 

The judges commended Mia on the originality of her method, research questions and discussion. They described her essay as beautifully written, well structured, with convincing arguments throughout. 

  • Ben Broadbent, joint Cheney Prize winner

    Ben Broadbent, joint Cheney Prize winner

Ben Broadbent’s winning essay is called: ’You’re supposed to not change the narrative’: the narrator and their power in Paul Shapera.

"Shapera's plays I've thought were always wonderfully creative and particularly outstanding in their narrator characters. We have narrators who simply direct their narrative on the one hand, others who have to fight their unintentionally self-aware characters, yet others who actively try to induce them into becoming narrators themselves. I wanted to try to understand and contextualise this broad array using the literary theory of narratology, which seemed to struggle in grasping the details," said Ben.

The judges praised Ben on the originality of his subject matter, the innovative quality as well as the stringency of argument. They described the essay as an ambitious paper, well-structured in a confident style that engages the reader throughout. 

The Wadham judges, Stephan Rauschenbach (Chemistry), Laura Moody (Plant Sciences), and Karl Kugle (Music) awarded a prize of £200 to each winner. They commented: “For both prizes, the field was very competitive, with many interesting subjects chosen by the participating students. The selected topics ranged widely from poetry and literary studies, and the history of art, to social studies, through to a range of scientific disciplines.”  

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