New Competition to Recognize Student Research Using Special Collections

JeffersonBook+MagGlassEvery year numerous Washington University undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members conduct research using rare or unique materials held in the Film & Media Archive, Manuscripts, Modern Graphic History Library, Rare Books, or University Archives. These units comprise the Department of Special Collections at WU Libraries, and the research opportunities here are countless.

Many of the Special Collections holdings exist only at Washington University, so WU’s community of scholars have easy access to amazingly rich and unique research opportunities.

To encourage such research, the Department of Special Collections has established the Mendel Sato Research Award competition. Any undergraduate or graduate student may compete by completing a research project that uses Special Collections holdings and is under the mentorship of, or in collaboration with, a faculty member.

Students interested in entering this research competition must first contact Special Collections to discuss their proposed research project with the appropriate Special Collections staff member(s); then submit a short application form; and, finally, complete and submit the final project. (Contact information and a schedule of deadlines appear at the end of this article.)

Once projects are submitted, they will be evaluated and two awards of up to $1,000 each will be given to student/faculty pairs—80 percent of the award goes to the student and 20 percent to the faculty mentor.

The Mendel Sato Research Awards are designed to foster collaboration between students and faculty, expand the use of Special Collections, and generate new research drawing on rare and unique holdings at WU Libraries.

The vision and funding for this program are provided by an endowment from Dr. Mendel Sato, who seeks “to help awardees do well for themselves and enable them to do good for others.”

Sato received an undergraduate degree in biology from Washington University in 1976 and a doctoral degree in dental medicine, also from WU, in 1979. Today, Dr. Sato and his wife, Sharon, live in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he operates a dental practice along his two sons.

Inspired by his days as a student at WU, where he learned by collaborating with faculty members, Sato created an endowment to provide ongoing funding that encourages collaborations among today’s WU students and faculty. Nearly 40 years after leaving Washington University, Sato is helping today’s students have the same kind of powerful learning experience he had.

Send questions, applications, and completed research projects to Brian Woodman, reference and research coordinator in the Film & Media Archive, at

Deadline Schedule

  • November 9, 2015 – February 5, 2016. Meet with the appropriate Special Collections curator or archivist to discuss ideas for research project.
  • February 12, 2016. Submit a completed application form to register your intention to participate in the competition.
  • April 15, 2016. Submit the completed research project by 5 p.m.
  • April 29, 2016. Awards will be announced.

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