Koji A. Everard ’21 was fast asleep at home in Tokyo when his blockmate woke him up with the news they both won the 2021 Thomas T. Hoopes prize for outstanding scholarly work or research.
“He called me at like 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. because he saw the email and he saw my name when he checked the list. So I answered his phone and I was like, ‘yo what’s up it’s 3 a.m.’ and then he's like, ‘Have you checked your email?’" Everard said. “It was a nice way to find out.”
Everard and his friend were two out of 74 undergraduate students chosen by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for the annual Hoopes prize this year, which was announced May 6.
The award is funded by the estate of Thomas T. Hoopes, Class of 1919, and seeks to promote the “quality of education” by “recognizing, promoting, honoring, and rewarding excellence in the work of undergraduates and their capabilities and skills in any subject.” Each student winner is awarded $5,000 and each nominating faculty member is awarded $2,000. Winning theses are displayed in Lamont Library for two years.
Everard’s thesis, presented to the History department, focused on the sugar beet economy in interwar Hokkaido, the northernmost main island in Japan.
“I was looking specifically at how states attempt to use agriculture to refashion ecologies and political economies at the same time,” Everard said. “My overall argument was that beets were at the core of a state project to remake Hokkaido and further its settler colonial project.”
His thesis, which was nominated for the Hoopes by History professor Ian J. Miller, was originally supposed to focus on New Zealand. Everand was forced to “pivot” his topic after University-sponsored travel was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting him to focus his study on his home country, Japan.
Applied Mathematics and Economics concentrator Hannah J. Ellery ’21 won the Hoopes for her thesis titled “Big Names, Bigger Barriers: Firm Reputation and Its Role as a Barrier to Entry.” Ellery said it took her “an absolute huge amount of time” to research and write the thesis.
“I don’t even know how to quantify it. I started in earnest probably late July of last year,” Ellery said. “I worked on it almost every day, for like most of every day — I think this is uncommon, but I got really obsessed with it.”
Statistics concentrator Katherine Deng ’21 was nominated for the Hoopes by Economics professor Benjamin Golub and Statistics professor Tracy Ke for her thesis, which focused on how Americans form communities and groupings based on “both demographic and cultural attitudes.” Deng said she was partly inspired to research the topic after taking Golub’s class.
“He was just a fantastic professor. He had really lively, dynamic teaching, and I think I wasn’t the only one who was super, super fascinated by the topic afterwards,” Deng said. “So after the class, I read my advisor’s advisor’s book and kind of got really into this topic.”
Hoopes winner and Anthropology concentrator Che R. Applewhaite ’21 composed a thesis in the form of a short documentary titled “A New England Document: Proto-Cinematic Practice against Genocidal Acceptability.” Applewhaite’s film questions and reflects on the Peabody Museum’s Lorna J. and Laurence K. Marshall Archive, which hosts thousands of ethnographic photographs of Ju/’hoansi tribespeoples indigenous to the Kalahari Desert in Namibia.
Applewhaite’s film has been selected for several film festivals, including the prominent 2020 Sheffield Doc Fest. Applewhaite said his favorite part of creating the thesis has been the impact his film has had on others.
“I think for me the process of speaking to people who are both in my field, but also not in my field, about anthropology, ethnography and specifically its relationship to the documentaries as a whole — that was really eye-opening because I didn’t realize how much the work can actually be of interest to people who want to kind of make documentaries in a critical way,” Applewhaite said.
Ellery described writing a thesis as a “phenomenal” academic experience that had a positive impact on her senior year. Despite having to reconfigure her thesis multiple times, Ellery said the process made her feel connected to a largely virtual campus.
“It’s probably my favorite thing that I’ve ever done at a school academically,” Ellery said. “It was also really nice in a time when we all feel sort of disconnected from campus to have something that was so grounding and felt very clear with measurable objectives.”
A full list of this year’s Hoopes Prize awardees is available here.
—Staff writer Raquel Coronell Uribe can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @raquelco15.