Ashland University’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Student Wins Best Undergraduate Paper Award

Ashland University’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Student Wins Best Undergraduate Paper Award
Ashland University senior Charlie Michel, who is a mathematics major from Cincinnati, Ohio, poses with his best Undergraduate Paper Award with his faculty mentor, Dr. Maura Grady, assistant professor of English.

10/14/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Charlie Michel, a senior who is majoring in mathematics from Cincinnati, Ohio, has been awarded the Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award by the Midwest Popular Culture Association.

Michel was recognized at the association’s conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 1-4. The Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award recognizes the best paper presented by an undergraduate at the Midwest PCA/ACA conference.

The Midwest Popular Culture Association is a regional branch of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, which brings groups of scholars together to study popular culture.

Michel’s paper titled “Always be closing: Really Existing Capitalism in Glengarry Glen Ross” is an analysis of the film adaptation of David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Michel argued that the fictional environment crafted by Mamet and director James Foley is a stark and substantive portrayal of the sort of injustice and exploitation that pervade American capitalist democracy.

“My argument is built upon both my own interpretation of the dialogue and visual elements of the film and the work of a number of prominent film scholars and economists,” said Michel. “I poured a great deal of intense thought and emotion into this paper, so it feels great to have that recognized and validated by the awards committee.”

Dr. Maura Grady, assistant professor of English and Michel’s faculty mentor, introduced the birth of the project in her English 102 course in 2014, which was a research and argument writing course focusing on writing on film.

“It has been great working with Charlie as he developed this project. Charlie brought his own interest in economic theory to his analysis of Citizen Kane, which he watched after we had discussed it in class,” said Dr. Grady. “For his final paper, he compared Citizen Kane to the more recent Glengarry Glen Ross, adapted from the David Mamet play. I am thrilled that it was recognized at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference with the Pat Browne award – so well deserved.”

Before he presented the paper at the Midwest Popular Culture Association, Michel presented his paper at the 2015 Ashland University Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Symposium (URCA). Presenting at this level allowed Michel to be able to practice and edit his presentation before presenting it to a wider audience of scholars.

“Last spring’s URCA symposium was the first time I’ve given a formal presentation outside of a classroom setting,” said Michel. “Although it was a bit nerve-wracking, presenting at URCA ended up being an extremely rewarding experience and spurred my desire to seek out further opportunities to present my work.”

“I can’t thank Dr. Maura Grady enough for her support and guidance throughout this process,” said Michel.

Michel, who is the son of Patrick and Kathleen Michel of Cincinnati, is a 2012 graduate of Summit Country Day School.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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