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Undergraduate Writing Prizes

Congratulations to all Caltech undergraduate writing prize winners:

Alexander P. and Adelaide F. Hixon Prize for Writing in Freshman Humanities

Established in 2000 by Alexander P. and Adelaide F. Hixon, the Hixon Prize for Writing is awarded to an undergraduate student for the best composition in a freshman humanities course. The prize recipient is chosen by a humanities committee in conjunction with the Hixon Writing Center.

Crystal Liang, "Why Was The Feminine Mystique Such a Phenomenon?: A Clarification" (2017)

Gideon Leeper, "Empiricism and Mathematical Knowledge" (2016)

Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize

The Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize is awarded by the humanities faculty to undergraduate students for excellence in written and oral communication skills.  

English: Zofii Kaczmarek, "Gaudy Night Essay" (2017)

History: Christina Lin, "The Rhetoric of Change" (2017)

Philosophy: Kshitij Grover, "Living with Sisyphus" (2017)


English: Suchita Nety, “Feminine Intellectual Fertility in the Writing of Christine de Pizan” (2016)

History: Leo Balestri, “Fifty Years of Dividing Lines” (2016)

Philosophy: William Hoza, "A Can of Worms" (2016)

Mary A. Earl McKinney Prize in Literature

The Mary A. Earl McKinney Prize in Literature was established in 1946 by Samuel P. McKinney, M.D., of Los Angeles. Its purpose is to promote proficiency in writing. The terms under which it is given are decided each year by the literature faculty; it may be awarded for essays submitted in connection with regular literature classes or on the basis of a special essay contest.

Poetry: Karen Pham, "on loving a falling star" (2017)

Prose: Daniel McAndrew, "Insect Sisyphus" (2017)


Poetry: Matthew Lim, "Encounter" (2016)

Prose: Sirus Han, "Silent Goodbyes" (2016)

Hallet Smith Prize

The Hallett Smith Prize was established in 1997 to commemorate Professor Smith's long career as one of this century's most distinguished Renaissance scholars. The cash prize is awarded by the literature faculty to a student who writes the finest essay on Shakespeare.

Gauri Shastri, "The Women of Othello: Shakespeare's Reinterpretation of "A Moorish Captain" (2017)

Suchita Nety, "Objects of Interpretation in Othello" (2017)

Library Friends Senior Thesis Prize

The Friends of the Caltech Libraries created the prize was established in 2010 to recognize senior theses that exemplify research and the effective use of the scholarly record. The University Librarian and the Friends of the Caltech Libraries oversee evaluation and make recommendations to the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee (UASH) for final selection. Finalists are honored with a reception hosted by the Friends of the Caltech Libraries and receive acknowledgment of their finalist status on their official transcript.  The citation is accompanied by an honorarium and appears in the Commencement program.

Ayush Gupta, “Noncovalent Immobilization of Electrocatalysts on Carbon Electrodes via a Pyrenyl Ligand” (2016)


For more information about applying for these prizes, please contact us