2024 iSchool Student Award winners announced

The iSchool proudly congratulates seven exceptional scholars who have been named winners of this year’s iSchool Student Awards!

The winners, listed below, demonstrated rigorous scholarship, campus and community involvement, and creativity. The Outstanding Student awards are new this year, to honor and reward the exceptional work being done by students across iSchool programs.

2023-2024 iSchool Student Award winners

Outstanding Information Science Student Camber Walvoort BA/BS Information Science
Outstanding MS Graduate Student Chia-Wen (Mickey) Chen MS Information
Outstanding MA Graduate Student Mackenzie Rhode MA Library & Information Studies
Fenster Research Paper Award Kaitlin White MA Library & Information Studies
James Krikelas Award for Innovative Use of Information Technology Jyun-Hao Chen MS Information
Dianne McAfee Hopkins Diversity Activities Award Tolulope Adelabu MA Library & Information Studies
Larry Jacobsen Innovations in Library Science Award Kaitlin White, Rebekah Wilce MA Library & Information Studies

Each winner receives well-deserved commendation for their hard work and dedication, in addition to financial support at varying levels, depending on the award.

Outstanding Information Science Student: Camber Walvoort

Camber Walvoort is a double major in Information Science (iSci) and Consumer Behavior & Marketplace Studies, a popular program in the School of Human Ecology. Walvoort serves as Co-Director of Community Involvement for the Student Retail Association, where she helps plan the organization’s community service events. She has a passion for using technology and data to improve people’s lives and enhance business decisions.

Walvoort has been pleasantly surprised by how much her two majors overlap, noting “Both majors are focused on people. They’re about improving things and helping people.” She added she often uses skills from courses in the Information Science major, such as data analysis techniques, to her advantage in other courses across campus.

Outstanding MS Student: Mickey Chen

Mickey Chen has not only been an outstanding student since his entry into the MS Information program; he has also been a student club leader and an advocate for international students at UW-Madison. Chen led the User Experience (UX) club at the iSchool for a year, organizing events with UX professionals, where he said “students could learn about UX trends, get portfolio feedback, and work on side projects outside of class.”

In addition, Chen worked at International Student Services on campus, aiding international students with immigration-related applications and answering their questions. During his time in the program, he also interned as a System Development Engineer at Dell Technologies and as a UX Designer at Uniring Robotics. “Applying what I’ve learned at iSchool, I strive to make a tangible impact on the world,” Chen said.

Outstanding MA Graduate Student: Mackenzie Rhode

During her graduate program, Mackenzie Rhode has worked as a Serials Assistant and Archives Assistant at the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), getting hands-on experience in the field of librarianship. “The staff have been wonderful mentors to me,” Rhode said. Her work in the Serials Department, where she helps manage their periodical subscriptions, has enabled her to learn about how collections are developed at a state historical society.

Rhode also completed her practicum project at WHS, where she conducted a thematic analysis, in the process discovering collection gaps that helped inform future development decisions. “I gained valuable leadership experience through my work at WHS and have enjoyed training and acting as a mentor for other student workers,” Rhode said.

Fenster Research Paper Award & Jacobsen Innovations in Library Science Award: Kaitlin White

The only student to win two separate awards this year, Kaitlin White has excelled inside the classroom and out. White was honored with the Fenster Research Paper Award for a paper she wrote as an assignment for LIS 601, Information: Perspectives and Contexts. In the paper, White proposed a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy for providing equitable broadband access in Northeast Vermont, where access has historically been scarce.

As she pursues her master’s, White is also serving as an Energy Educator for the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP). In this role, White supports teachers in providing high quality climate science lessons to local students. The Larry Jacobsen Innovations in Library Science Award recognizes White’s work overseeing and improving VEEP’s programs. “My iSchool studies are preparing me to further support this organization and my hopes to work in academic science libraries in New England in the future,” White said.

James Krikelas Award for Innovative Use of Information Technology: John Chen

For his final project in LIS 875 (Technical Foundations of Information Science), John Chen chose to investigate the critical problem of food waste in the United States. He said his project focused on “causes, effectiveness of existing governmental policies, and practical solutions” for food waste. It included a sophisticated analysis of food waste data over a decade, Chen said, “highlighting sectors where waste was most prevalent and evaluating the impact of policy changes post-2015.”

Chen’s award-winning project used data-centric, technology-enabled methods that blended theoretical research with actionable insights, including policy analysis and recommendations for reducing waste. Chen said, “This comprehensive approach helped illustrate the multifaceted nature of the food waste problem and offered a data-driven basis for improving current strategies.”

Dianne McAfee Hopkins Diversity Activities Award: Tolulope Adelabu

For her efforts to promote diversity within the information professions, Tolulope Adebalu is the recipient of this year’s Hopkins Diversity Activities Award. In her role as Special Collections Assistant for the UW-Madison International Division, Adelabu said she has the opportunity to “organize information artifacts that serve the language and cultural outreach of the African Studies program.” One of the programs Adelabu leads through her role is Children’s African Story Hour at Madison Public Library (as shown in the image, Adelabu in center), which she has found especially rewarding.

“I started my master’s degree with the aim of making a difference in the marginalized but hypervisible area of African collections,” Adelabu said. “I have accomplished this goal through strategic connections with African communities in and beyond Madison, and I plan to advance this work through research and instruction in the [UW-Madison] African Cultural Studies doctoral program.”

Students like Adebalu, and all of our award winners, show that the iSchool continues to train future leaders in the evolving information professions.

Congratulations to the 2024 iSchool Student Award winners!

To learn more about the iSchool Student Awards, visit the awards webpage.

Prospective students: explore all of our programs.