The 1996-97 Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes recognized the writing achievements of 23 undergraduates and one graduate student in the categories of essay, drama, poetry, short story, fiction, and scientific and technical writing. The winners were chosen from 151 entries submitted by 79 students to compete for the 35 prizes offered (the judges grant awards only to outstanding entries).
Initiated in 1985, the competition (administered by the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies) is named to honor the contributions made to the writing program by author and retired Senior Lecturer Ilona Karmel, who chaired the prizes for more than 10 years.
First place in the Boit Manuscript Prize for drama was awarded to Lawrence K. Chang, a senior in electrical science and engineering from Sterling Heights, MI, for "Copper Spaghetti." Second place went to Dena E. Cohen, a sophomore in biology from West Hartford, CT, for her drama, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 53." In the essay category, Guang-Ien Cheng, a senior in computer science and materials science and engineering from Potomac, MD, won first place for "Experiencing Donne's An Anatomy of the World."
Marc Lebovitz, a junior in computer science and engineering (CSE) from Tarzana, CA, earned honorable mention for "The Sandman" in the Boit fiction category, as did Anthony Julian, a senior in Writing and Humanistic Studies from Baxter, TN, for "Apocalypse (Chapters 1-3)." Honorable mention in the poetry category went to Sripriya Natarajan, a freshman in CSE from Timonium, MD, for "Sketches."
In the Ellen King Prize for Freshman Writing, Russell A. Miller of Dallas won first place for his short story, "Mrs. Beezin's Soul," and Helen Lee of New Providence, NJ, was awarded honorable mention for her collection of poetry, "a potpourri."
In the Robert A. Boit Writing Prize essay category, first place went to Amy Marie Smith, a junior in humanities and science of Cambridge, for "Weeds and Tea, Skills and Lore." Second place went to Mr. Cheng for "Factory Smoke and Free Will," and third place to A. Arif Husain, a senior in brain and cognitive sciences from Okeechobee, FL, for "Case File: Aristotle vs. The Republic of Plato."
In the Robert A. Boit poetry category, Geoffrey Warner, a senior in physics from Olympia, WA, won first place for "Five Short Poems." Christina L. Kalb, a junior in writing and humanistic studies from Saratoga, CA, earned honorable mention for her collection of poetry, "Modern Medicine." In the short-story category, Karyn January Cheng, a senior in biology from Potomac, MD, took first place for "Permanent." Second place went to Anthony J. Young-Garner, a sophomore in electrical science and engineering, from Chino, CA, for "Eclipse." Robert Marcato, a senior in computer science from Rye, NY, won third place for his short story, "The Esposito Treatment," and honorable mention was given to Rigel Stuhmiller, a sophomore in architecture from Rancho Santa Fe, CA, for his story, "[ . ]."
First place in the Louis Kampf Prize in Women's and Gender Studies was awarded to Lily Koo, a senior in biology from Pepper Pike, OH, for "Interrupted Beginning."
In the Writing and Humanistic Studies Prize for Scientific and Engineering Writing, first place was awarded to Federico Bernal, a senior in chemistry from Mexico City, for "Approaches toward the Construction of the Ring System in CP-225,917."
Two second-place prizes were awarded: Jay Sethuraman, a graduate student in operations research from Chennai, India, for "Linear Programming Brings Marital Bliss," and Jenny Yung Liu, a sophomore in biology from East Northport, NY, for "The Isolation of a Human Homolog c131 of the D. melanogaster white gene."
Honorable mention went to Genevieve Konopka, a senior in brain and cognitive sciences and biology from Shamokin, PA, for "Pick's Disease: A Comparison with Alzheimer's Disease and Normal Aging."
Brigette A. Burnell, a junior in environmental engineering science from Mansfield, OH, won second place in the S. Klein Prize for Scientific and Technical Writing for "Coral Bleaching."
In the DeWitt Wallace Prize for Science Writing for the Public, Jennifer Murphy, a sophomore in humanities and engineering from Wellesley, MA, was awarded first place for "Love, Hate and Faster Hardware." Second place went to Christine Chen, a junior in chemistry from Hampton, NJ, for "Crohn's Disease." Honorable mention was awarded to Christina L. Kalb for "Recreating the Charles," and Mr. Cheng for "The Catholic Church and Human Evolution."
The same essay garnered Mr. Cheng the 1996-97 I. Austin Kelly III Essay Prize, awarded to MIT undergraduates for scholarly or critical essays judged to be outstanding in one of the humanities fields or some interdisciplinary combination of them. The Kelly prize also recognized another of his essays entitled "Experiencing Donne's An Anatomy of the World."
Honorable mention for the Kelly prize went to Lori K. Fujitake, a senior in linguistics and philosophy fom Richmond, CA, for her essay "Obscene and Indecent Speech on the Internet."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 4, 1997.