Student and Academic Life

UK Libraries Recognizes 2 Undergrads for Gen Z Activism, COVID Mental Health Scholarship

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headshot photos of Isha Chauhan and Haley Shaver
headshot photo of Isha Chauhan next to tree in bloom
headshot photo of Haley Shaver standing outside between 2 columns

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 9, 2021) — University of Kentucky Libraries is proud to recognize Lewis Honors College freshman Isha Chauhan and dance freshman Haley Shaver with the 2021 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Scholarship. This award recognizes exceptional, original scholarship and excellent research conducted by UK undergraduates making substantive use of UK Libraries’ collections, services and resources.

Isha Chauhan, of LaGrange, Kentucky, is recognized for her research in response to poet William Everson’s 1959 article, “Dionysus and the Beat Generation: The Reemergence of the Dionysian Spirit in Contemporary Life.” In constructing her paper, “Naked Dinner: A Comparison of Dionysian and Apollonian Values Between the Beat Generation and Generation Z,” she used interlibrary loan, citation guides, librarian recommendations, archival materials, academic search engines and databases.

Chauhan’s paper compares the dynamic between the nonconforming, passionate Dionysian spirit and the restrained, rational Apollonian spirit within the Beat Generation and Generation Z. Highlighting attempts at literary push back against Apollonian society in the Beat Generation and technology as a stimulant for the Dionysian spirit in Generation Z, Chauhan argues that the Beat Generation’s concession of the Dionysian spirit is established as more authentic through their lack of intentionality although Generation Z has found more success overall in leveraging the Dionysian spirit to precipitate change.

Chauhan conducted her research under the mentorship of Lewis Honors College Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Tara Tuttle, whose HON 252 Winter Intersession course, Other(ed) Voices of the Beat Generation, first introduced Chauhan to the Beat Generation, prompting her to reflect on the values of her own generation.

“In all honesty, I didn’t even know what the Beat Generation was. But to my surprise, the generation of rebellious, like-minded artists reminded me of my love for literature,” said Chauhan, who is majoring in biology. “Where Dr. Tuttle’s invigorating instruction combined with the class topic allowed me to reconnect with art, the library — and its extensive resources — encouraged my passion to supplement my career in research.”

In reviewing the paper, Tuttle highly commended Chauhan’s research process and deep analysis of the source material.

“I am thrilled to hear of the richly deserved recognition of Isha’s hard work. More than any honors student I have had the pleasure of teaching, Isha was eager to branch out beyond easy-to-find sources to support her argument and learn about the variety of services the library provides,” Tuttle said. “The outcome was exciting and brilliant, and her work shows how meaningful interactions with librarians and broad engagement with library resources result in a much more sophisticated final product.”

Haley Shaver, of Lexington, is recognized for her recorded research-based dance performance drawing inspiration from library spaces and databases. Created with support from the UK Department of Theatre and Dance, “Proximity” explores the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative impacts of isolation on mental health.

Shaver’s choreography, performed as a duet between Shaver and a fellow dance student on top of the Rose Street Garage across from the William T. Young Library, delves into the concept of human connection, tying each movement back to a feeling or coping mechanism related to mental health. To investigate methods of manipulating movement and how COVID-19 isolation has impacted mental health, Shaver examined several resources available through UK Libraries’ online databases, including “Dance Composition” by Jacqueline Smith-Autard and “The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health” by Bilal Javed, Abdullah Sarwer, Erik B. Soto and Zia-ur-Rehman Mashwani.

By demonstrating the correlation between the arts and sciences, Shaver, who is pursuing a dual degree in dance and biomedical engineering, hopes that her research “proves that they are both important fields and are similar in a variety of ways.”

Shaver’s project was among seven student works accepted for the 2021 spring semester dance showcase, “EchoLocation: A Mobile Tour.” Participants were tasked with researching, choreographing and teaching their dance in collaboration with their faculty designers and mentor, as well as finding a location to suit their performance.

Faculty mentor Susie Thiel, associate professor and director of the UK Dance Program, applauded Shaver’s finished product.

“Haley has excelled as dance maker using research to inform, inspire and enhance her movement material,” Thiel said. “I feel that Haley’s work and final product was one of the strongest of the student works. The location, on top of a parking structure, the well-crafted sound score that relayed news stories pertaining to COVID-19 and mental illness and the incredible research-based choreography as well as performance contributed to the success of ‘Proximity.’”

As Dean’s Award recipients, Chauhan and Shaver will each receive a $1,000 cash award, and their work will be published through UKnowledge, UK Libraries’ open access digital collection of scholarship created by University of Kentucky faculty, staff, students, departments, research centers and administration.

UK Libraries awards the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Scholarship to two UK undergraduates each year, with one prize given for traditional paper/scholarship and one for digital methodologies. To learn more or for updates on the 2022 application cycle, visit UK Libraries’ Dean’s Award page.

As the premier research library in the Commonwealth, UK Libraries provides ever-expanding access to quality information resources, teaching and learning programs and services, and excellent learning spaces. More information about UK Libraries can be found on its website.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.