Psychology Locks Two of Three Finalists in Arts and Letters 3MT Prelims

Author: Evan Bryson

al_finalists_small Left to right: Laura Bland, Tony Cunningham, and Caroline Hornburg, the College of Arts and Letters 3MT Finalists.

Yesterday evening’s College of Arts and Letters Three Minute Thesis Prelims netted three finalists from a pool of seven competitors. Tony Cunningham (Psychology), Laura Bland (History and Philosophy of Science), and Caroline Hornburg (Psychology) will go on to compete against finalists from the College of Engineering and the College of Science.

Graduate students presented on a variety of stimulating and compelling research topics. Maria Ulrickson (History) began the evening with a powerful evocation of injustice in colonial Spanish Santo Domingo, and its contributions to our modern conception of race and overtly racist categories of crime. In his deep voice, Nicholas Bonneau (History) recounted in somber detail the death toll in disease-ravaged, pre-revolutionary Rowley, Massachusetts, where in one year over 188 children died of a “throat distemper epidemic.” Courtney Smotherman (PhD in Literature Program) explored the ways that we write about Italian history when we have no “Italy” to speak of, engaging questions of how writers constructed modern ideas of nation and nationhood. Joel Duncan (English) began his presentation by reciting lines from Walt Whitman’s seminal long poem “Leaves of Grass” before uncovering the surprising links between nature and industrialization in American Poetry.

The evening’s judges were Mark Schurr, Associate Dean for the Social Sciences and Research; Michael Desch, Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of Notre Dame International Security Program; and the Graduate School’s own Sarah Baechle, Assistant Program Director for Professional Development.

Remarking on the research of the evening’s competitors, Baechle noted, “One of the most interesting—and impressive—facets of the competition was the way that the at-times very different humanities and social science disciplinary fields represented by the Arts and Letters competitors demonstrated (and underscored) the breadth and variability in their research, even as they all engaged the big questions: the nature of emotion, of religion, of knowledge, and art.”

Cunningham, Bland, and Hornburg will next present their research during the 3MT Finals on March 16.

More about 3MT.

More about the College of Engineering Prelims.


Name Department Presentation Title Advisor
Laura Bland History and Philosophy of Science Unfriendly Skies: God, Science, and the Great Comet Prof. Robert Goulding
Tony Cunningham Psychology Sleep On It: The Role of Sleep in Processing Emotional Events Prof. Jessica Payne
Caroline Hornburg Psychology Optimizing Problem Format to Facilitate Children’s Understanding of Math Equivalence Prof. Nicole McNeil

Other Competitors

Name Department Presentation Title Advisor
Nicholas Bonneau History Unspeakable Loss, Distempered Awakenings: North America’s Invisible Throat Distemper Epidemic of 1735–1765 Prof. Christopher Hamlin
Joel Duncan English The Song in the Machine Prof. Stephen Fredman and Prof. Laura Dassow Walls
Courtney Smotherman PhD in Literature Program Balancing Peninsular and Provincial Historiography in the Age of the Italian Wars, 1494–1559 Prof. Margaret Meserve
Maria Ulrickson History Criminalization of Free Black Labor in Spanish Santo Domingo, 1768–1813 Prof. Karen Graubart