The University of Illinois Springfield Research Board has honored two former graduate students with awards for their master’s thesis projects for the 2018-2019 academic year. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on campus in the fall.
Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award
Rashaun DeBord of Saint Louis was selected for the UIS Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award. He graduated from UIS in May 2019 with a master’s degree in history. His thesis study investigated long-term impact from the 1908 Springfield Race Riots. His thesis was chaired by Devin Hunter, assistant professor of history.
DeBord studied newspapers, archives and oral histories to obtain a broad view on the history of the riots, its spatial history and its lasting legacy on the black community. He states, “While the race riot is a tragic event, we must preserve its memory, understand the spaces with which it operates, commemorate its past, and reconcile for the betterment of the future.” The digital portion of this project (springfieldraceriot1908.wordpress.com) analyses the landscape of the race riot through photography.
He grew up in Kewanee, a small town in northwestern Illinois. He chose UIS because of their great public history program, and knew it would provide the challenge he needed to grow professionally and personally. During his graduate studies, he also helped initiate a health and safety program at the Illinois Department of Revenue, through the Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI). He now works as a research education and information specialist in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at Washington University in St. Louis.
Joshua Rai of Bethel, Ohio was selected as the UIS Honorable Mention for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis. His research study was on the environmental and sociological impacts of yarsagumba harvesting in Nepal.
Rai graduated from UIS in May 2019 with a master’s degree in environmental studies. His thesis chair was Megan Style, UIS assistant professor of environmental studies. For his research, Rai traveled to Nepal and observed the harvesters and took environmental measurements.
The Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Project Award is funded primarily through an endowment established by Nancy and Charles Chapin, along with gifts from other donors. In addition to providing funding for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Project Award, Charles and Nancy Chapin have provided support for Brookens Library, the Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence and scholarships.